The Fifth Elephant 2014

A conference on big data and analytics

Sajjad Anwar


Scaling Spatial Data - OpenStreetMap as Infrastructure.

Submitted Jun 3, 2014

For the success of any location service, the length and breadth of geographic relationships have to be recorded with enough room for frequent verification and classification. This talk will introduce the infrastructure behind the largest open geographic data repository - OpenStreetMap - and how you can leverage the complete geospatial stack for independent data collection, verification, and building services. We will understand and discuss the unique data model, its performance, scalability, data editing and verification methods, and extensible data service built on top of it. Besides, we will learn what it means for serving beautiful maps from this unmatched dataset and end with my experiences on a recent project that I worked on which uses OpenStreetMap from ground up to monitor natural resources extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


OpenStreetMap has over 9 years of lessons in managing large scale crowdsourced spatial data with open source infrastructure. The project now has over 1,600,000 contributors out which about 3000 users map every day. They create over 16,35,608 nodes. The changes are replicated across several official and unoffical instances and all the maps rendered with OpenStreetMap data are updated in under a minute on the Internet.

With PostgreSQL and PostGIS as the backbone of data storage, OpenStreetMap has created an ecosystem of tools that is now available for anyone to use for different kinds of spatial data. The data can be processed, queried and styled in several ways. We will discuss setting up the OpenStreetMap infrastructure for custom data models and explore the edit-style-render toolchain. There is a rich API and database dump/restore mechanisms that is built into the infrastructure. OpenStreetMap also takes quality assurance seriously that there is a process in place for identifying and rectifying vandalism or errors.


Fair understanding of Unix, Databases, and Networks.

Speaker bio

Sajjad Anwar is a hacktivist and programmer based in Bangalore. He works in the research and design of data infrastructure, analytics and infographics. Being involved with OpenStreetMap for over 5 years, he has extensive experience working with spatial data and advocates open geographic data. He helps organisations to build and maintain their data infrastructure. He is found working with other technologists, social activists and researchers in education, human rights and policy making. Along with two others, he runs the collective.


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