Reblogged from Slashgeo:
This is certainly major news. Steve Coast, the OpenStreetMap founder, joined Microsoft’s Bing Maps team.
From the announcement: “Continuously innovating and improving our map data is a top priority and a massive undertaking at Bing. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new initiative to work with the OpenStreetMap project, a community of more than 320,000 people who have built high quality maps for every country on earth. Microsoft is providing access to our Bing Aerial Imagery for use in the OpenStreetMap project, and we have hired industry veteran Steve Coast to lead this effort. […] As a first step in this engagement, we plan to enable access to Bing’s global orthorectified aerial imagery, as a backdrop of OSM editors. Also, Microsoft is working on new tools to better enable contributions to OSM.”
Amongst the geoblogs reactions, James Fee provided his analysis of what this really means: ” Microsoft needs to get involved with OpenStreetMap to continue to be relevant in the web mapping space and OSM needs Microsoft, their aerial images, their big pocketbook and their need to dominate all spaces they exist to join up.” All Points Blog shares some more: “I don’t think OSM has all the data inputs needed, nor the paid and unpaid staff needed, nor the smart software needed to win this competition. Not yet anyway, but clearly their backers are slowly adding to their dowry.”
Overall, from the “open data” point of view, it can certainly be considered a major win. Last August, Bing Maps was already offering the OpenStreetMap layer, and MapQuest already dived into OpenStreetMap some time ago.
Good news? Bad news? Personally, I’m going to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Obviously, an infusion of cash and resources could go a long way toward supporting the OpenStreetMap project, which would benefit everyone. But Microsoft has a history of acquiring and then consuming small companies, consortia, and standards. Only time will tell how this will play out. Hopefully, the OpenStreetMap players will keep their eyes open.
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