FAQ: Frequently asked questions

What is OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMap is a project with the aim of creating a free world map. Over 200,000 mappers collect worldwide data on footpaths, parks, cycleways, roads, railways, rivers, forests, houses and anything else that is commonly shown on maps. Because we collect the data ourselves and not from existing maps, we possess all the rights to use it and distribute it as we wish. OpenStreetMap data can be used without licensing costs; without notifying anyone, seeking permission or carrying out any further processing.

How can I get involved?

Take a look at the map, to check out where data needs adding or correcting. For more advice, come along to an OpenStreetMap New Zealand meet, or have a look at the beginners' guide on the wiki. We also have a mailing list, for discussion of mapping, imports, and other topics. You can also email the author of this site.

Why don't you use Google or Bing Maps?

Like OpenStreetMap, maps produced by a lot of commercial providers are free to use (in monetary terms), but OpenStreetMap data is also free in the sense it can be used in many innovative and imaginative ways, without requiring permission. Also, OpenStreetMap data can be re-distributed under very free terms and conditions, enabling you to share maps and other uses of the data with your friends and others. Click here for some examples of what has been produced from OpenStreetMap data.

What is a 'Mapping Weekend' or a 'Mapping Party'?

A mapping weekend or mapping party is a great way to meet fellow OpenStreetMap mappers in your area and explore your local surroundings while collecting map data. Typically a group of mappers gather together, divide up an area to be mapped into groups, then head off in groups of one, two or three. After collecting data on their area, they meet again and upload the data to OpenStreetMap.

What is the license?

Data produced by OpenStreetMap is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license. This means you can share the work with others, and are free to adapt the work. If you share the work, you must let people who use it know where it came from, and must share the data under a similar license. See here for more information.

More information is available on the wiki.

Why is OpenStreetMap collecting this data again, haven't people like the government and mapping companies already done that?

Many organisations collect map data, including governments and corporate mapping companies. A small number of these allow their data to be used in OpenStreetMap, such as some government departments in New Zealand. In this case, we are happy to use their data in OpenStreetMap, but in a lot of cases OpenStreetMap has collected better quality, more detailed data itself, through the 200,000 contributors around the world.

In New Zealand, we are currently importing data from Land Information New Zealand - see the wiki for more information, and how to help.

Where can I find more Information?

On the Wiki

Website from a design by OpenStreetMap Switzerland.