Tom Chance for London

Announcing OpenEcoMaps to geeks

By on 11th April 2011

I’m happy to announce that OpenEcoMaps is now stable and ready for use, albeit with a few wrinkles that I hope some more able hackers can help me iron out. OpenEcoMaps takes data about “eco” (green / sustainable) features stored in OpenStreetMap and turns them into KML files that are shown as overlays on the map, making it easy for people to find out where they can get a vegetarian meal, forage some wild fruit, spot a solar panel, recycle a can, pick up a car club car, or spend some money in a cinema.

You can use these KML files on your own map, or in Google Earth; you can embed the OpenEcoMaps map in your own web site; or you can just browse around the site.

At the moment there are packs of overlays for London and Exeter, but I can quite easily add other local areas with any combination of the features. I can also add in new features, they’re just little chunks of Python code to specify how OpenStreetMap tags are interpreted. Leave a comment if you want something in your area – I need a bounding box, the title for the area, and a set of layers specifying the title for the layer and the features you want in it.

I’ve been waiting for a reliable XAPI service before launching, and thanks to Mapquest I’m now able to say – use and abuse it!

Most of the data was added by various OpenStreetMap mappers over the years, it’s really fun to pull out something you think is very niche and find how much we already have in the database. But I’ve also been sourcing open data from organisations like the GLA and Southwark Council, particularly for renewable energy installations and food growing spaces. What’s interesting is finding out just how little these public bodies actually know.

Over the summer I’ve got a few events with food organisations where I’m going to present the project following my work with the council, the GLA and Sustain. That will be a nice opportunity to see how usable the average citizen finds the web site, and how useful it really is to them.

There are still a few features I think it needs before announcing it to networks of local green groups like Transition Towns. So if you’re a geek interested in this project please have a look at the TODO list on github and get stuck in.

  1. Marshall Kirkpatrick
    11th April 2011

    Super cool! OSM as data foundation for development is really intriguing. Did you SeatmeRight? Similar. I’d love to find another example or two. Excited to see what comes of this work you’ve done! Here in Portland, Oregon I bet there are many people who would love to have access to this data about our town.

    • Tom Chance
      11th April 2011

      Nice site, shame they put it onto a crummy Google map 😉 But then Google Maps is much easier to work with than OpenLayers.

      At the moment I’m restricting OpenEcoMaps to the UK, both because the language is British and because I’m planning to add links to other UK-only services like CycleStreets. But all the code is free software and stored in github so someone could make a US copy if they wanted.

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