11. September 2018
We all know that Google Maps is the go-to solution for everyone when we look-up for a place to reach when we have to navigate from point A to point B! But is Google Maps the only map service out there? What is the difference between Google Maps and other map services?
We were looking into OpenStreetMap (OSM) and we loved it! Here is why!
We care about our customers privacy a lot, this is why we went for a GDPR-compliant policy, got the ISO27001 certification — an internationally recognized standard that ensures that our app meets the best practice for an information security management system and we never worked with third-party services that asked for our customers data even though we offered most of our service for free for quite a long time.
For our Location service within the app, we are currently using Google Maps to add the visitors’ approximate location, based on their IP2location registration. But, even though, Google Maps seems free of charge, it is not! If there are not lots of views over the map, it might be free when it comes to money, but there is the cost of privacy and loss of control over what we see on the map. What does this mean?
Well, to put it simply, Google is an advertising company too and it is using our geolocation and search results for marketing purposes. This is not all! It will also display only the data that is relevant to you based on your information on the map, instead of what you actually might have around you.
As you can imagine, in the past years, a lot of companies started to look for other services or even build new mapping solutions!
Like OpenStreetMap (OSM) — an open-source project maintained by the OpenStreetMap Community that provides free editable maps of the whole world. A solution that became the mapping solution for Nike, Samsung, Foursquare, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Strava, part of Facebook, Pinterest, Apple and even some governments around the globe and public transport monitoring services.
We are going to also roll-out OpenStreetMap, mainly because they are highly active in our customers’ countries and because it is a perfect alternative solution for google maps that contains almost all the service that Google maps offer with the advantage of customizability.
What does this mean for you?
- Can you imagine the world map on your USB stick? OSM can be hosted by anyone who wants it and it only has around 57.5GB! Why is this important to you? We can host the map for you on our servers and make sure you will not have any down moments while looking for your visitors’ approximate location.
- While all the commercial map data suppliers focus on updating map features that are most profitable to sell, OSM allows the community to be creative and make maps focused on hikers, cyclists, physically challenged, sailors and practically any interest group. You can map crops, the number of windows on the Empire State Building or even the age of a particular tree. Even when it comes to routing and navigation, OSM does not stay behind.
- OpenStreetMap’s default map style is quite similar to Google’s and it shows some interesting features exhibiting a unique data set, rich with locally gathered information in some areas.
- The map will display your locations using 4 map types: Standard Map, Transport Map, Cycle Map, Humanitarian
- The zoom level is up to 19
- Hosting is supported by the University College London (UCL), Imperial College London and Bytemark Hosting, and other partners, but they also have distributed servers around the world to meet the demand of users in a reliable and robust way.
- No mapping service has 100% of the planet’s geographic information. But since OSM is constantly updated through the collaboration of companies, government institutions and the wider community that often send information about new locations or corrections of the existing ones. This allows the service to have more precise information about less known places.
- The service is not only free but easy to customize and it has thousands of tags added by locals, while Google Maps has a price if there is a high number of people checking the map and it has a lot more marketing tags
- We can create overlays on the map, so you can easily see your visitors’ distribution in a clusterscreenshot from Visitor Analytics web-app (aka direct access)
As you can see, OpenStreetMap powers map data on thousands of websites, mobile apps, and hardware devices. Therefore, we find it a great solution for Visitor Analytics and we will roll it out by the end of this month!