Hi to everyone, I am planning to use the OSM map in a project; however was wondering if there is information that would compare the level of detail we can expect from OSM compared with Google.

I know about map comparison services where I can go to a particular location and see it on different maps; however is there a data/number that would represent which map provide better coverage?

When I talk about coverage I'm interested in how well the streets and street names are represented in these maps; I'm not interested in the number of POIs.

Particularly interested to know such number for China, since Google is not working well here anymore, OSM seem to be an interesting alternative.

Appreciate if some of you can provide an opinion on OSM vs Google in China, or hint an idea how this could be calculated?


asked 03 Apr '14, 10:44

Szymon456's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

You might do better trying e.g., http://www.google.cn/maps?q=Beijing (no HTTPS either.)

(04 Feb '16, 09:23) jidanni

Numerical comparisons between OSM and other providers are notoriously hard to come by. Especially against providers like Google, which do not provide any parsable data. You've done well to narrow your question to "China" and "streets and street names", but even then your most likely chance is to find some news outlet that did some manual-but-systematic assesment (I don't know of any for China, sorry).

Annecdotal evidence suggests that OSM isn't globally there yet in comparison to Google. But you'll also notice that in order to get access to existing map data, Google had to comply with a Chinese regulation that forces them to introduce fairly large and random errors in the position of roads. For an area like China, which isn't very detailed in OSM yet, there's no clear winner, even for something as basic as streets.

Data completeness and accuracy aren't the only thing to consider. There are many pros and cons, with different importances depending on your use cases. What's a map shopper to do ? Maybe implement both solutions so you can switch at runtime and get the best of both worlds. Or make the principled decision to choose data that is actually free and improves faster than any other. If you give more details about your project, maybe we can highlight some pros and cons.

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answered 03 Apr '14, 12:23

Vincent%20de%20Phily's gravatar image

Vincent de P... ♦
accept rate: 19%

Thanks for the answer Vincent; indeed I was concerned how could I compare it with google - for OSM the data may be there in one way or another that I can count; but google is difficult to count.

By the way, are you aware of such manual assessments outside of China - just to get an idea?

The purpose is actually quite simple - google maps are not officially present in China - accessed through HK, so we want to find an alternative solution in case google end up in the same basket with facebook, twitter and others.

The map providers that are available from within China do not comply with our security requirements - which is availability over HTTPS connection. Therefore choice for OSM, which we can host internally.

(04 Apr '14, 05:26) Szymon456

I searched a bit but couldn't find the manual review I had in mind, which was in Germany by a general news outlet and included a few different providers. Googling will get you some numerical comparisons for the uk, france, and germany (not vs google obviously). There are a few comparisons at geocommons but the methodology is unclear.

(04 Apr '14, 11:23) Vincent de P... ♦

If you aren't sure wether Google maps will remain available for your target audience, hosting your own OSM map seems like an obvious choice. Add the SSL requirement to that, and it sounds like Google is not an option ?

On the other hand, did you have a look at China-specific map providers ? I expect there are a few which could match you availability requirements. Of course around here we're happy to choose OSM in every situation, but if you're looking at closed map providers to begin with, remember that Google isn't the only option.

(04 Apr '14, 11:32) Vincent de P... ♦
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question asked: 03 Apr '14, 10:44

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last updated: 04 Feb '16, 09:23

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