Temporary Mapping - Solar Decathlon

This week on the DC National Mall there is the 2009 Solar Decathlon. It's a contest between 20 student groups from around the world that build, on the mall, sustainable, energy efficient, and modern houses. The competition measures their efficiency, quality, resource usage, and design. It's a one week miny village.

OpenStreetMap Solar Decathlon

So of course, like any village, it needed to be mapped. I went down Saturday afternoon and captured the locations and names of all the buildings and paths that will be up for the week. These are then loaded into OpenStreetMap with start_date and end_date tags that notify the renderer when the features should be visible. It's a similar model to how Burning Man is mapped year after year as it walks along the Black Rock Desert.

It's ephemeral mapping - objects that exist in real place, but just for small slices of time. Important as any other building, yet typically relegated to flyers or verbal descriptions.

The fascinating part of projects like this is that OpenStreetMap allowed me to create a map that was useful and immediate. Within minutes of uploading the data, it was available as rendered tiles, vector data, and downloadable to GPS units and iPhones. People on the mall could immediately view the local map with this new information.

It's a nice demonstration of how community projects like OpenStreetMap will continue to innovate faster, and more openly, then other 'crowd-sourcing' options.

About this article

written on
posted in MapsOpenStreetMap Back to Top

About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.