Lately I have become very interested in the possibilities of integrating data from http://www.openstreetmap.org (aka OSM) with Smallworld. You can find out more about the mission of OSM at http://wiki.openstreetmap.org, but in summary…
“OpenStreetMap creates and provides free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways.” (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Main_Page)
Think of OSM as Wikipedia but on a world-wide geographic database. I am presenting at this year’s Smallworld Americas Users Conference in September a presentation entitled “Let other people maintain your landbase (without having to pay them)”. It will be a discussion of some options available to Smallworld users to get out of the landbase maintenance business. Most of it will be centered around OpenStreetMap and how you can integrate that freely available data as a Smallworld data layer (both raster and vector data). The session will be in the last time slot of the conference on Saturday, so if you are interested in the topic but cannot attend the presentation, please let me know and I will send you the slides.
As an example of OSM data, if you are a utility that has Bakersfield, California, USA in your service area, have a look at this link http://osm.org/go/TY4w8rXaV- This is the OSM data that is available for this area. If you read the attribution on the features in this view, you can see that someone got the data from the City of Bakersfield GIS download site. You don’t get that kind of building detail (even individual trees!) from Bing or Google. Although if you do integrate aerial imagery into Smallworld you could just see the building profiles. But if you are testing the viability of integrating external datasets with your Smallworld environment, you might want to consider OSM. The price is right and the data quality/quantity keeps increasing. The beauty of OSM data is that if you know that some data is missing or incorrect in the map, you can make edits to the database yourself and the changes will be available on the map within an hour or two. That kind of turn-around is not available from most other data vendors. Clearly there are trade-offs between using OSM vs. Bing/Navteq/TeleAtlas but that is what I hope to cover in my presentation.
If anyone has questions about how OSM could be integrated into their Smallworld database, please let me know.