The Isle of Man got another mention at a conference today (this time it was Where 2.0, last time, a presentation at reboot 8) relating to the mapping work that a number of us from/on the Isle of Man have been working on for the OpenStreetMap project.
The OpenStreetMap project actually has a broad coverage of the island, admittedly with large chunks still missing, but it's a great start. Compare that with Google who seem to have decided against buying the Manx road network for their Google Maps site, despite their coverage of most of the rest of Europe. Ask maps on the other hand do have data for the Isle of Man, as well as some great high resolution imagery of the towns.
For businesses, organisations and individuals, buying data from the likes of Navteq and Ordnance Survey would allow some use of maps, though they would be heavily restricted with what they could do with them. Whilst they are pretty much guaranteed to be of a certain standard, they must pay a high price for that privelage: one which is not easily afforded by small businesses, organisations and individuals who just want to be creative with maps.
Building up our own open source dataset means that people will be able to use road information for many different purposes, with credit to the project, and hopefully at the same time give a little input back into the project as well.
Much of the work I've been doing with regard to the project of late has not been actual mapping - it's difficult when such a long way from the place - but instead research into meta data for the tracks that I've already created on the island. It turns out that the Isle of Man Government site is a treasure trove of information about road closures, which proves a great source for road numbers and names as well as starting and end points. Add in a dash of local knowledge and I can begin to build up a database of roads on the Isle of Man with which I can tag the streets I previously had no metadata recorded for.