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OpenStreetMap Community Succeeds with Operation Cowboy
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Operation Cowboy,'s second worldwide mapping marathon, was an unqualified success, with several hundred participants worldwide focusing on the United States.over the Nov. 23-25 weekend.
As a result of the intensive weekend the amount of data added to the U.S. map increased more than five times over what is typical for a weekend. is a global volunteer effort to create a free and open map of the world. The project has more than 900,000 contributors working around the Earth. OSM has developed sophisticated software and easy-to-use mapping interfaces that enable all kinds of mappers, from first-timers to experienced professionals, to contribute.
The goal of Operation Cowboy was to make a significant impact on areas of the United States that were relatively untouched, such as rural areas or smaller cities. There also was an effort to enrich the map with new details, such as buildings or land use. For smaller cities, such as Bowling Green, Ohio, which had been relatively untouched, a great deal of detailed data has been added.
Another goal was to improve the alignment, classification and intersections of highways, especially important if a map is to be used with a GPS device. The Operation Cowboy mappers were able to reduce the number of routing errors (bad connections between highways) from 17,000 to about 10,000.
The work was aided by an expert support team in the United States, providing guidance on which areas to map, how to interpret satellite images and how to use the existing data while editing. U.S. mapping is aided by TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing), the basic road data available from the Census Bureau. TIGER data makes it possible for mappers outside the United States to edit U.S. roads.
Making the weekend especially successful was the social atmosphere-many groups met for all-night parties-and OpenStreetMap's Maproulette, a program that presents random mapping problems for participants to solve.
The U.S. Chapter of OpenStreetMap and the entire U.S. community is especially grateful for the efforts of the mappers around the world and heartily thanks all who participated. To give a special thanks, US Chapter president Martijn van Exel created an eye-opening video ( that says thank you as only an OSM mapper can.
About the U.S. Chapter of
The United States Chapter of the OpenStreetMap Foundation is dedicated to improving the growth, availability and accuracy of open-source geospatial information in the United States. To achieve that important goal the U.S. Chapter, incorporated in April 2010, is working to promote and develop in the United States, and to conduct exciting new mapping projects with a focus on the United States.
About (OSM) creates and provides free geographic data, such as street maps, for anyone to use. Most maps considered "free" actually have legal or technical restrictions that hold back their use in new creative or productive ways.
OpenStreetMap launched in the fall of 2004 in London. Since then the organization has grown to more than 500,000 volunteer members worldwide. Almost daily there are meetings and new projects initiated by OSM members worldwide. In January of 2010, OSM started a special project to provide critical mapping data to support the emergency efforts following the earthquake in Haiti, a project that continues today. And, after the March 2011 tsunami in Japan OSM stepped in again to provide critical mapping data to emergency responders and government organizations.


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