OpenStreetMap Africa

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a free map of the world built by a dedicated (and growing) network of mappers. Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of mappers around the globe have mapped 25 million miles of roads, over 130 million buildings, and millions more water fountains, schools, caf├ęs, rivers, coastlines, helipads and hundreds of other features.

Here is southern Africa, OSM has grown exponentially over the past 5 years and now it provides incredible coverage of many countries in the region. Check out the interactive map below by Mapbox to see the growth of OSM in this region. In particular, watch the growth in smaller, secondary roads from 2013 to 2014. It's this type of data that can dramatically improve estimates of travel time to health clinics for people living in rural areas. You can see on this website that shows edits in the past 90 days, that roads are constantly being added and updated, leveraging local knowledge and the power of a distributed network of volunteers.

As you can see, OSM has major planetary coverage. And whether you've known it or not, you've probably seen the map before: Craigslist, Foursquare, Wikipedia, Flickr, and even Apple Maps all draw from OSM data (note: Apple also uses TomTom and data sources as well).

Interested in tracing your home, streets in your neighborhood, or tracing satellite images of the roads and places that are important to you? Want to get involved in humanitarian mapping to aid relief efforts? Head over to openstreetmap.org to get started.