Update Jun 14, 2018: It’s been one month and we’re overwhelmed by the success of the camera lending program! To make sure that the program is sustainable, and that we don’t run out of cameras altogether, we are raising the point amount needed to keep the camera to 1,000,000. This amount should still be attainable within 3 months (one contributor has already hit this milestone!) Also, the new limit only applies to new applicants - if you already have your camera, your goal is still the original lower limit. Happy Driving!

The OpenStreetMap US board is excited to help improve the impact of individual members of the mapping community. Do you have an idea for how we can help you or your group of mappers? Should we include 360° cameras in this program? Would a set of lending GPSes be useful to your local group? Let us know! Send an email to board@openstreetmap.us.

Today I am happy to announce a new resource to assist OpenStreetMap US members in improving the map. I will be administering a program that is a partnership between OpenStreetMap US and Telenav to make dash cameras available to mappers who wish to improve street level imagery coverage in their area.

Any active mapper who is also a member of the OpenStreetMap US local chapter can apply to borrow a camera for up to three months. If you capture enough imagery during this time, you can keep the camera and we hope you will keep contributing both imagery and map edits for a long time to come!

Street level imagery can be a powerful tool to help make OpenStreetMap more complete. Maybe you like to map speed limits but don’t know the first thing about complicated turn lane tagging. By capturing and sharing street level imagery as you go about your day, not only can you make your own edits more accurate but others can use your images to add more information to OpenStreetMap that you may not have time or interest to do yourself. Since it is easy to add new images it also serves as a much more up to date source than aerial imagery which is often only refreshed every few years.

About the Cameras

Telenav has worked with the camera manufactuer Waylens to produce a customized version of the Waylens Horizon camera designed to be mounted in the windshield of a car. The camera hardware and software are both optimized to make contributing to Telenav’s OpenStreetCam project as easy as possible. OpenStreetCam is an open platform that collects and analyzes street level imagery and makes both the images and the data derived from the images available to improve OpenStreetMap. It already contains 55 million images in the U.S. and many more around the world. How many will you add?

The cameras differ from the $500 retail versions in two ways. The lens is optimized to capture still images and get as much of the road as possible while leaving the hood of your car out of the frame. The custom software makes operating the camera trivial. Once configured, the camera will automatically start capturing one image every second while the car is in motion. It will pause whenever you stop. Once you are done driving it will automatically upload the captured images to the OpenStreetCam servers when it gets in range of your WiFi network.

The camera comes with several accessories including an OBD2 dongle that you can plug in to your car. Doing so lets the camera read some information from your car’s engine management computer to help it improve the GPS accuracy and it will also double the number of points awarded per picture when they are uploaded to OpenStreetCam. For more details about the camera and setup instructions, see the OSM wiki

Interested?

Getting your hands on a Waylens camera is easy!

  • Make sure you are a current member of the OSM US local chapter. Sign up now if you aren’t!
  • Fill out this form to request a camera
  • If your application is accepted, we ship you a camera!
  • After 3 months, if you have accumulated more than 1,000,000 points in OpenStreetCam using the Waylens camera, you can keep it! Points can be tracked in your OpenStreetCam user profile.

If you do not achieve this goal or do not wish to keep the camera, just attach the included return address sticker to the box it came in and ship it back. It will be sent in a USPS medium flat rate box and will cost $13.65 to ship.

Once the camera is shipped to you we will connect you with people at Telenav who can help with camera setup and troubleshooting.

I am excited to help bring this new benefit to my fellow OSM US members! I have been testing one of these cameras for Telenav for a while. In that time a few bugs were found and fixed and the camera works very well now. You can see the results in my OpenStreetCam user profile. Not all of my recent uploads are from the Waylens as I still use my GoPro to shoot from my bicycles or when riding in another car. Look for the tracks with a wider aspect ratio (and a lack of dashboard and bicycles) to see the Waylens in action. Here is a nice long track as an example

If you have a special request, for example needing multiple cameras for a special event or a different rental period for an epic trip around the world or something like that, let us know and we will try to work something out.

Happy Mapping!

Image Credit: Baltimore Heritage

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Photos © Justin Miller unless otherwise noted