Where can people get fresh food in Philadelphia? While researching this question, it became clear that the ability of OpenStreetMap to store any type of feature leads to opportunities and pitfalls. Although OpenStreetMap can portray the rich social resources of the urban landscape in a way that commercial maps often fail to do, the coverage is often uneven, inconsistent, or falls short of capturing the most useful layers for the local population. In this presentation, we’ll describe efforts to facilitate the submission of food resources in OpenStreetMap in a consistent way and display them in a format useful to the general public. The process included the creation of a “Food security” themed page on the OpenStreetMap wiki, a focused map-a-thon held in Philadelphia to collect local knowledge of food resources, and the development of a simple focused web application leveraging jXAPI and OpenLayers to display the results to the public. We’ll also briefly discuss the connections of this work to social theory, and invite the audience to consider ways that the patterns presented in this case study could be scaled to other themes and locales.
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