As you might know, we at skobbler share the belief that the OpenStreetMap is the future of digital maps. With its more than 400,000 registered members, OSM positively seems on its way there. In several regions, its detail has already surpassed the commercial map suppliers.
As with any great project, there are certain pressure points that do need some particular attention. Improving them can lead to great enhancements to the overall quality of the project. With OpenStreetMap, one of these areas is house numbers. Approaches that try to augment existing streets in OpenStreetMap using algorithms and automated methodologies often fail, due to the mostly non-linear, non-symmetric nature of urban architecture. And who would want to walk down streets that already exist on the map on a large scale, actively trying to scan for holes in OSM’s house number data?
For this reason, we have thought of a way that tries to take bore and lack of methodology out of house number collection. In essence, it is supposed to be both fun and meaningful for the project. We call it AddressHunter.
The game is very straightforward. Players are battling for points. Points can be collected by physically going to target locations lacking house number information. In order to collect the points, a picture of the actual house number has to be taken in the vicinity of the respective spots. Obviously, each house number only leads to one score: so yes, it’s also about speed. Who gets there first, gets the point.
The target locations are dynamically calculated at the start of each game, making sure that only spots lacking house number data at this very moment are included.
Naturally, each player needs to log in at OSM (btw: an API allowing a more elegant way to sign-in would be much appreciated, guys).
While playing, each player will see the map and an indication about the whereabouts of the target location.
When a player reaches the actual location a snapshot of the actual house number is taken and uploaded. These snapshots can be checked after the game, making sure that no mock uploads taint OSM’s house number data.
In the end, every player sees his result and how many points have been gathered. Each player does gradually get promoted to higher ranks (starting as “drifter”) based on his all-time total score.
On the technology side of things, the entire app is realized in HTML5 with a PhoneGap wrapper. So it can run cross-device. We have tested mostly on iOS devices up to now, but Android support and other platforms are under way. For the tiles we used the great MapQuest open project.
The first trial happened at WhereCampEU with ~30 geogeeks engaged in an address hunt in Berlin. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. Based on that, we are looking forward to finalize this app and hopefully have it live and available for everyone in time for StateOfTheMap 2011 in Denver in September.
We hope it will encourage people to add house numbers . Be it at events like WhereCamp EU or StateOfTheMap, or just during spare time at week-ends.
Let the hunt begin.