Year of the Open Map

Various people have been throwing about phrases like “year of the Open Map” and “rolling your own map tiles” recently. This has been in response to the announcement at the end of October that Google Maps was to charge for usage. From 1 January Google has been charging for the Google Maps API service when more than the limit of 25,000 map “hits” are made in a day, a situation that many websites such as travel firms and estate agents will easily face. Over Christmas property search engine Nestoria came out with the news that they were switching in a blog posting by Ed Freyfogle entitled Why (and how) we’ve switched away from Google Maps which gives some very good background reasoning, and the route taken (OSM to MapQuest to Leaflet to Mapstraction). On Jan 9 Wired picked up on this and carried an extensive article entitled Open Source Maps Gain Ground as Google Paywall Looms which has a pretty good analysis of the OpenStreetMap, Mapquest and Bing/Microsoft positions in all of this. Following on from that there has been a really excellent post entitled Good bye, Google Maps… thanks for all the fish from Sebastian Delmont (which rather deliciously is in Google+). This explains in detail why his company StreetEasy have gone down the  OpenStreetMap, TileMill, MapBox and Leaflet route for their map switch. What is even more useful is the comprehensive exploration of the options and the fantastic number of useful URLs. An earlier blog posting from Fubra also covers some alternative maps such as Bing, Ovi and OS OpenSpace. So, if you are interested in what the options are then read these posts. If you’re in London, why not go to the next #geomob event on 16 February where Ed Freyfogle will be giving a talk about their move away from Google Maps.
UPDATE: Although my original take was on availability and deployment of online maps, Steven Feldman’s blog post on “The beginning of the end of Free?” is worth a look as it goes a little more into the economics.
UPDATE: The OpenStreetMap community (coordinated by Richard Fairhurst) has compiled a switch2osm website which clearly explains the whys and hows of changing.

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