Hackernoon logoAmazing Free Geolocation Alternative to Google Maps by@techygeeky

Amazing Free Geolocation Alternative to Google Maps

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Kapil Raghuwanshi Hacker Noon profile picture

@techygeekyKapil Raghuwanshi

JavaScript Ecosystem Hacker | Machine Learning Enthusiast | Angular, React, Node | Tech Writer.

To young age startups and small businesses, OpenStreetMap gives an edge to build the next big thing.

OpenStreetMap(OSM) is a free to use a geolocation solution, an editable map of the entire world that is being developed by contributors and released with an open-content license.

Today, the most successful unicorn startups are built on geolocation services like Maps, Navigations, Routes, Places, and Street Views. In addition to this, these services have been used heavily by diverse business domains as mentioned below-

  1. Ride Hailers — Uber, Lyft, Didi Chuxing, Ola.
  2. Vehicle Manufacturers — Toyota, Volkswagen, Ford, Tesla.
  3. Food Delivery — FoodPanda, Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats.
  4. Travel and Tourism — Expedia, American Express.
  5. Online Delivery Tracking products and many other fields.

When I searched for free Google Maps alternatives on the internet, I got to know about OpenStreetMap. What I really liked about OSM is their underlying mission:

“We started it because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways.” - OpenStreetMap Foundation

That’s enough! This could be the actual reason behind all that initial challenges and frustrations for any developer team, small ideas, and young age startups. So, I thought to do little research about OSM and share it with you all.

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Map Gif by Giphey.com

Google Maps are mostly preferred by these big enterprises and unicorn startups for their millions of Maps, Routes, and Places requests hourly and daily. But for small and medium-sized enterprises, it can be difficult to afford the Pay-as-you-go subscription model given by Google as they grow more. Nevertheless, Google Maps is providing a few thousand free visits and $200 monthly credit.

Features

There are plenty of easy ways to create your own maps, modify according to your requirements using OSM. They are:

  1. Easy to learn and immediately usable
  2. GPS Tracking supported
  3. Geocoding process - converting addresses into geographic coordinates
  4. Reverse geocoding- converting geographic coordinates into a human-readable address
  5. Able to load maps data offline
  6. Allows contributions (add, edit, upload data)
  7. Able to geo-tag multimedia files (notes, photos, videos).

Highlights

Development

It has different Projects, Libraries, Plugins, and Application programming interfaces(APIs) in numerous popular frameworks and languages like JavaScript, Java, Ruby, C++, etc. It runs on a relatively smaller size server deployment.

Maps

You can use it for regular browsing places, navigation, directions, and share locations. Try it here OpenStreetMap.

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This is my current location in the city as shown by OpenStreetMap.

Shortcomings

Since products like OpenStreetMap massively rely on contributors and volunteers. They have several drawbacks too. Below are some disadvantages:

  • Data in a few cases is not that accurate as Google APIs.
  • Quality and Reliability hardly meets high standards.
  • These products are not updated and volunteered regularly.
  • As per the user’s feedback, OSM APIs are only good for raw geodata.

But of course, free tools are better to start your own venture.

OpenLayers

OpenLayers is another completely free solution for displaying dynamic maps in the applications and products. It draws tiles from a variety of sources, including OpenStreetMap. In addition to the basic maps, OpenLayers also allows us to render vector layers and put markers on our map.

The OpenStreetMap License allows free access to the World Map images and all of the underlying map data. Their main aim is to promote new and interesting uses of this data. In the end, before using OpenStreetMap data and APIs, read the copyright page once to know how to give credit to OpenStreetMap and its contributors.

Resources:

https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Get_help

https://learnosm.org/en/beginner/

I hope you appreciate the open-source technologies by supporting in whatever possible way you can!🤗 OpenStreetMap is not just open data but a truly open-source product and we can contribute!

Follow me on LinkedIn (@kapilraghuwanshi) and Twitter (@techygeeeky) for more such tech stories.

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