Contribute to OpenStreetMap from your phone | Opensource.com

Contribute to OpenStreetMap from your phone

StreetComplete is an open street map editor used for mapping in the field while on an Android phone.

Looking at a map for career journey
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Since this month is the 17th anniversary of OpenStreetMap (OSM), I figured I would cover one of the more entertaining open source apps used to contribute to the OSM geographic database. If you don't know what OSM is, go ahead and check out my previous article to learn more about OSM and how it is used. This article will cover a cool open street map editor used for mapping in the field while on an Android phone. The best part about this way of contributing to OSM is that it is an entertaining quest-based way to add and update the OSM database.

Let's get to the questing

After installing StreetComplete to your phone (you will need an OSM account to create the edits), you can open it up and check out that menu.

You can see your profile and team mode available on the list, as well as the scan for quests here button.

In my case, when I went to scan for quests, I was asked a good amount of information about the roads in the parking lot I was sitting in. You'll see the little pathway bubbles and what questions it asks once you tap on them.

Once I answered the questions and updated the map, I got this cute little congratulatory message, telling me about my profile and about how to learn more about what I was doing.

While this thoroughly entertained me, I was determined to do more as I went on my weekend shopping trip.

Walk about town

Since I was running around and picking things up from various stores while I was playing this, I looked to see what kind of things you could do around the stores I was in. The first was to answer if the street ways were lit.

They were lit, so of course, I tapped YES, but what about the parking lot? Well, I figured I better answer that one too. Spoiler: It was a regular parking lot in front of a grocery store. 

Well, what about outside the store itself? There must be some sort of bike stand nearby that someone may need. So I answered that question too.

So far, this questing around just in parking lots and outside of the stores was pretty fun.

What if they need store hours or information?

As I was heading in, I was asked about the hours of one store, and I gladly added the hours by day. And here's a short walk-through of that.

I went ahead and tapped the days of the week (while I was standing in front of the store) with the hours of opening and closing. After I entered the information, I reviewed it and tapped OK. Then I wandered in and grabbed the new dog bowl I needed. 

Finally, the recognition I needed!

So after I was around town answering things in between shops entertaining myself, I got another congratulatory pop-up from the app about the work I had done.

The more you do on this app, the more links you are given to look at various projects that OSM is working on. This will actually lead you to a couple more open source projects they need contributors for and a couple of apps used for public GPS tracing used in the OSM database. It's the best way to contribute to something without needing to know code, which is nice because it opens the door for everyone to join the world of open source.

Final thoughts

This phone app is great for a couple of reasons, the first being the entertainment you can find during day-to-day adult tasks or if you want just to have a socially distant date where you drive around and do quests for the night. The second reason is that it gives everyone the chance to contribute to open source, no matter how small the experience. This can open the door for many people to discover a new world they didn't know existed. While many other apps work with OSM, this one is the most entertaining and gives you something new to do while you're out and about for the day. I hope you enjoyed my silly walk-through and enjoy the 17th birthday of open street maps, which I would encourage everyone to explore further.

A map with a route highlighted

This month is the birthday of OpenStreetMap (OSM), a community-owned collaborative geographic database of the world.
A map with a route highlighted

Find an adventure in your own backyard with this fun app.

About the author

Jessica Cherry - Tech nomad, working in about anything I can find. Evangelist of silo prevention in the IT space, the importance of information sharing with all teams. Believer in educating all and open source development. Lover of all things tech. All about K8s, chaos and anything new and shiny I can find!