An amazing video as a precursor to Steve Coasts Keynote. It showed a year in edits. [insert link here].
OSM started at UCL with a need for playing with mapping data of the local area. This was not possible due to licensing restrictions. Once I make an area of my map and you make an map of your area, and we put it together we have something that can be used. This growth has been exponential ever since.
OSM community does not just map, the community provide software, services, hardware management and maintenance. OSM collects mapping data using mapping parties. These provide information on how to collect mapping data. Using a varied collection of devices people collect GPS traces, these are nothing but breadcrumbs of lat and lon co-ordinates of the path you walk, drive, ride etc. Also collecting metadata as you go along. Street names, parks, hospitals, schools, *pubs*, foot paths etc etc. All *volunteers*!!!
The US effort started with the import of Tiger Data. This is public domain data created by the US Census Beurau. Add OSM to this mix and now the US OSM Maps are as good as any other source and in many cases more POI rich.
Germany now has a *complete* map in the space of two years. OSM there started in 2006 and at the end of 2008 was feature complete. Ongoing efforts now continue to fix errors and add features.
The main reason why OSM is POI and Feature rich is due to the mapping technology used. The likes of Tele Atlas use trucks with equipment to capture data rapidly. This model does not scale to collecting Foot Paths and Parks and the like.
[The thing I find strange here, there is still NOT ONE SINGLE MENTION of cloudmade by Steve Coast. This was supposed to be a Cloud Made developer program launch, not a OSM sales pitch.]