BeingOpen talk and business impacts of OpenStreetMap

Yesterday I gave a talk about OpenStreetMap at BeingOpen.

BeingOpen OpenStreetMap Slides on slideshare

And here’s a blurry picture of me talking Can you tell I’m really trying not to wave my hands around?

I always imagine my slide decks will be quite re-usable, but things change a lot in OpenStreetMap. My normal intro to the project needed updating to feature Potlatch 2 and a stats update of course.

For eye-candy uses of OpenStreetMap there are a few nice new examples. Many of these are nice looking mobile apps, and I was pleased to be able to sneak in a plug for placr’s UK TravelOptions app. The other things I added were Skobbler, and the new glosm 3D engine.

OpenStreetMap use cases eye-candy

But besides the normal intro, I tried to talk in broad terms about business aspects of OpenStreetMap. This is a classic graphic copied from Steve Coast, which I think explains the disruptive impact of OpenStreetMap very well.

OSM and Ordnance Survey slide

As OSM quality improves, at zero cost, it exerts a downward pressure on the price of traditionally licensed datasets. Of course in the case of Ordnance Survey, this also needed updating:

OSM and Ordnance Survey Updated slide

Ordnance Survey released some of their datasets for free. I believe StreetView is the most detailed. Whether OSM is better or worse than Streetview is debatable (position on the horizontal axis), but when you consider that StreetView is a raster map, OSM is potentially much more useful (all depends on your use case)

They definitely have not released all their datasets for free. The popular “Landranger” maps? Still charged for. “MasterMap” is the super-detailed dataset which you still pay through the nose for as part of the planning process. OSM isn’t really trying to reach the level of detail of MasterMap, but may perhaps exert a downward pressure on its price point.

So in a way OpenStreetMap (and other open data initiatives) are all about destroying business models. Traditional map providers have enjoyed a great business model: Licensing their maps. OpenStreetMap is disruptive technology which swings a wrecking ball through these monopolies.

destroying business models

But in the wake of this demolition, there are new geodata niches which are much more interesting. Small companies can get involved map service provision where previously they wouldn’t be able to afford data licensing fees. I’m not going to lie to you. Finding a money-making niche in this landscape is a challenge. The people that undoubtedly benefit are the “end users” of maps. Businesses / website ideas which make use of maps tangentially to their core business model. These people have new and exciting map tools, and access to free data, thanks to OpenStreetMap. I followed up with some ideas for different levels of OpenStreetMap use, which I have described in more detail on the placr blog.

(Wrecking ball photo by Rhys’s Piece Is on flickr)

London Wiki Wednesdays – February 2011

We had another London Wiki Wednesdays this week.

For me a strange kind of circle was completed. Back in October 2009 I blogged about how London Wiki Wednesdays had helped open my eyes to more interesting possibilities for working with fun technology. At the time I’d just quit a more dull/frustrating job, in which I worked as a Tibco consultant. Tibco do big expensive “enterprise” integration software for banks telcos and other big business. Not particularly fun technology. So it was weird to hear Tibco’s name come up in relation to “social media”, as David Terrar talked about their new Tibbr platform.

I gave a talk, and rather enjoyed turning my attention back to wikis and away from OpenStreetMap and all things geo for a change. Rather like OpenStreetMap, which is always delightfully intertwined with “the real world”, I find it quite easy to imagine ways of collaborating on wikis in relation to almost any facet of real life. That’s something I chose to demonstrate with my talk. I wanted to tell a fun little story of dipping into wiki collaborations and as I aimed to learn Portuguese.

It’s a true story. A very short story (good for a 5 minute speaking slot!) and it sort of ends with this discussion here. …so far at least. If you want to be involved in what happens next, join that discussion I guess.

But there’s another thing happening next. I started learning Android app development, and after running through hello world tuturials, and diving into other people’s code at work, I was itching to make my very own Android app. This little vocabulary quiz app is a very fledgling creation at the moment. Only slightly better than a hello world tutorial, but I hope to do some more work on it soon:


…I also hope to find time to actually learn some Portuguese!

There’s a full list of presentations and links to other blogs posts etc related to last Wednesday’s event. They’ll be a london wiki wednesday pub meet-up next month, and hopefully another evening of presentations in April.