Open Street Maps

Open Street Maps (OSM) is a free wiki world map of streets and whose content is created by the users via GPS traces and Satellite imaging correlation. In 2006-07 I purchased a Garmin eTrex unit while I was wandering around South Asia which was useful in both helping keeping track of where I was, where I was going, and making something else remember where important places were (i.e. where I was sleeping that night). The catch at the time was that no one had cost effective maps that I could load on my gps so I could actually get the roads figured out, so it was very limited. Unfortunately near the end of that trip, in Vietnam I left the GPS in a taxi and had to say good bye to my gps fun for a few years.

Fast forward to 2009, I’m in a mix of South Africa and Eastern Africa and after some security realizations I decided it was worthwhile to replace my GPS, so did a bit of research and found out that there is now a plethora of maps that can be had and the tech has gotten a bit better. To tell the truth I hesitated on buying a GPS, as I think it might be more worth while to purchase an Andriod as the usefulness of handheld GPS that are not cell/internet connected is rather limited. Soon enough what this page is all about will be entirely obsolete as even on low end phones you’ll get mapping and GPS functions built in (that will work even in place like Eastern Africa).

I digress however, I have gotten a new Garmin eTrex HCx which I chose given the low cost and ease with which you can put new maps into it because of it’s MicroSD card. In fact you can now purchase maps directly on SD cards which makes this even easier if you have the money. There are cheaper GPS devices from garmin and others, but for the cost it’s worth spending a bit more a more versatile device.

Having spent the money on the device though, I was curious if I could avoid spending money on the maps, and I soon found out Open Street Maps provided me just the answer. I found it was going to take a bit of work and thought I might share the results.

This is my spot for any OSM work I do, which for now is likely to focus on Eastern Africa.

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