Crowdsourced maps take inspiration from Pac-Man
Don't eat that Power Pellet or we'll end up lost
Free mapping service Waze is hoping to fill gaps by providing users with virtual rewards for real work.
"Cherries", "hammers" and "small gifts" will be awarded to users driving down a specific street or across a junction where Waze finds a disconnect in its crowd-sourced maps, the idea being to speed up completion of some comprehensive maps so Waze can sell them to someone.
Waze isn't the only crowdsourced mapping project - OpenStreetMap is also trying to map the world using GPS-equipped volunteers tramping about the place recording details. Waze is the only one who offers virtual rewards to those who take the time to visit badly-mapped places, however. OpenStreetMap hold parties there instead.
Waze already places munchable dots, in the Pac Man style, but is now adding fruits and other bonuses at places where the map is incomplete or disconnected. This is all about status of course, the user with lots of points feels the same joy as the Wikifiddler with lots of modifications to their name. It's just a shame that the joy of such things seems to be fading.
Neither project has much in the way of a business model: both maintain that the map data will remain free for little people indefinitely, so the money will come from licensing fees squeezed from big bad corporations, eventually. But until then it's buzzwords for breakfast, paid for with Venture Capital. ®
"Neither project has much in the way of a business model"
OpenStreetMap, of course, doesn't actually need a business model, because - unlike Waze - it's an open source community project, not a business.
It does however remind me of the all-time classic quote from the Craiglist analysts' call: "UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn’t, Mr. Buckmaster replied"
The most useful reward: free map data
Rather than "useful" rewards as cherries and hammers, OpenStreetMap actually gives you back something real, which is the map data you and everyone else has put in. By having an open source license any one can use the data for anything for free, rather than only one company profiting from your free labour and selling it back expensively to you. ( and waze intends to sell its data. Taken from their forum: "our business case is based on selling the data accumulated, derived and analyzed which has real value.")
Because of this there have been many useful things come out of the OpenStreetMap data. Here a small and not complete list of things that are already possible with OSM data. E.g. you can put worldwide maps onto your Garmin handhelds for free ( http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin ). You can use maps offline on your phone for free and save data and or roaming charges (e.g. offmaps for the iPhone http://www.offmaps.com/, GpsMid for java phones http://gpsmid.sourceforge.net/ ), use it for SatNav (e.g. via navit http://www.navit-project.org/ ), you can have maps in various different languages (e.g. http://cassini.toolserver.org/tile-browse/ ) or different rendering styles (e.g. cycle map http://www.opencyclemap.org/ or public transport http://www.öpnvkarte.de/ ). You can even create games from the data (e.g http://www.monopolycitystreets.com whos game (street) data is from OpenStreetMap, or for flight simulator scenery http://gallery.flightgear.org.uk/c1483094.html ) .
But as the data is free and not locked into a single commercial company , there are and will be many more innovative ideas that can be done with it.
I think that is the real reward (and the main difference between Waze and OpenStreetMap), not the fact that you get some hammers or cherries.
OSM give real prizes!
Despite being an open source/data community rather than a business, OSM has in fact rewarded at least one volunteer with an actual weeks Caribbean holiday (provided they did some mapping while they were there):
Quote from http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Osmfieldwork_Press_Release
"OpenStreetMap, the Wikipedia-like website which is mapping the world, is sponsoring one of its volunteers to go mapping for a week on the idyllic Caribbean island of Antigua - an idea sparked by Ed Parsons of rival Google Maps.
At last year's State of the Map conference in Limerick, Ireland, Ed spoke about the recently-launched Google Map Maker, Google's process for getting the public to supply map data for them. The countries initially covered by Map Maker included many Caribbean islands, leading Ed to express sadness that fieldwork was not involved.
This off-the-cuff suggestion, and a spirit of friendly competition, caused Gervase Markham, an OpenStreetMap contributor, to set up a pledge on the PledgeBank website. People pledged to improve OpenStreetMap's coverage in the Caribbean themselves by tracing over available aerial imagery, and to donate £10 each towards sending one lucky mapper on just such a field trip.
74 people, including Ed Parsons himself, signed the pledge, raising £740 to fund the expedition in order to significantly improve the OpenStreetMap data. One name from the pledgelist was chosen by a verifiable random process - Steve Chilton from Middlesex University, UK (who happens to be a professional cartographer, and is the driving force behind the look of the default cartographic styling for OpenStreetMap). The OpenStreetMap Foundation will be sponsoring him to travel to Antigua from 5th to 12th of June to add GPS traces, classify roads, and to add road names and points of interest, building on the work already done from aerial photos by the pledgers. He expects the weather to be marvellous.
"I am really looking forward to this fieldwork trip", said Steve. "I have contributed data to the map in many parts of the UK, and it will be great to contribute data in the Caribbean and add another little bit to this fantastic global project."