Open Street Map Gets the Details in Africa


2 min read

OpenStreetMap has better coverage in some niche spaces than other mapping tools, making it very attractive resource for international development organizations. Want proof? Inspired by this post, we looked at capital cities in several countries that have been in the news lately for ongoing humanitarian situations — Zimbabwe, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For two our of the three, Mogadishu and Kinshasa, there is simply no contest — OpenStreetMap is way ahead of the others in both coverage and in the level of detail. OpenStreetMap and Google Maps are comparable in Harare. The data available through Microsoft’s Virtual Earth lagged way behind in all three. Check out the images below:


OpenStreet Map

2610fbc4a538  0dbYAEXiS15h1A3AD


2610fbc4a538  0NkeuqUzHBRXbXJLf

Microsoft Virtual Earth

2610fbc4a538  0awXHSXkRpyRWcxnV



2610fbc4a538  0YlCQWVWkum YzH4I


2610fbc4a538  0qpP25klwlokWVNxn

Microsoft Virtual Earth

2610fbc4a538  0neSnkT w3DN0O37n


Open Street Map

2610fbc4a538  0UuWoLw 88KmaT0T


2610fbc4a538  0g8bB9cxL2bMlX1UN

Microsoft Virtual Earth

2610fbc4a538  00ol9hkbdMPX8z1Vo

The great coverage provided by OpenStreetMap in a lot of the places that our partner organizations care about is only one of the wins. Since it’s an open data set, the contributions everyone makes to the data will ripple out across the community and benefit everyone else involved. As the project continues to grow in popularity, the data will continue to grow more accurate and more complete. Just look at this fantastic animation showing all the great work that was done on the OSM project during 2008.

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

The project is only looking to grow stronger in 2009.

What we're doing.