OpenStreetMap at the Smart City Summit & Expo

The Kaohsiung Smart City Summit & Expo is an annual event focusing on the Internet of Things and smart governance. As an enthusiast of Web of Things and city mapping on OpenStreetMap, I went to check it out.

I tried to find people focusing on open data and interoperability, however, the event seemed to have a strong focus on proprietary businesses, startups and university research. Even at the

The presented products where all software and research aimed at goverment bureaus and large companies. So, because I wasn’t going to buy a website for autonomous fire rescue, traffic monitoring or habour cleaning, I started documenting which of the dashboards use OpenStreetMap.

For context, the majority of dashboards used Google Maps as a background and none of the systems used OpenStreetMap for anything other than a baselayer to display their data ontop. In my opinion, it leaves some smartness and governance to be desired, if your critical city managing tools rely on closed, central services from a private business in another country.

Tram monitoring

01-minimap.jpg

The first time I spotted OpenStreetMap was in the edge of a display. The main map showed a 3D map of Kaohsiung with its trams driving on the map as digital twins. While none of the main content used OpenStreetMap, the mini map had the very familiar colour scheme and mountain icons of OpenStreetMap.

Building monitoring

03-bulding-integrity.jpg

Finding these uses of OpenStreetMap turned out to be quite the challenge, but I became better, the more time I had spent at the expo. Here is a tool monitoring the structural integrity of buildings. The example shows a building in New York though. We can do better and find some more local maps.

Air quality monitoring

04-air-quality-monitor.jpg

The next tool was centered right onto the exhibition center which the event took place in. Here OpenStreetMap was the background for air quality data. Sensors scan the composition and quality of the air and report them to the dashboard. Quite useful, as the Kaohsiung is known for its grey haze. It’s so much nicer to walk along the beautiful pier or cycle on the new bike paths with the occasional clean, blue sky.

Sewer water level monitoring

05-storm-sewer-level.jpg

When it rains, the sewers are used as a drain for the area covered with asphalt and buildings. And when it rains a lot, like during a strom, the sewers fill up which might result in the water staying on the streets or rivers flooding neighbourhoods. This monitoring system uses a 3D map to show high water levels. While the height must come from somewhere else, the colours and lines of the baselayer tell me, that OpenStreetMap contributed to this visualisation.

Car tracking

06-car-tracking.jpg

This map showing the live locations of certain cars in Kaohsiung was printed onto a wall. As far as I can tell, that was the only instance of a printed map using OpenStreetMap at the expo.

Visitors of Taiwan

07-taiwan-map.jpg

This map of Taiwan’s main island I had almost overlooked. It’s quite rare for me to have a look at the entire island and at this zoom level I have no way of telling which map was being used. However, declared by the copyright of Mapbox and OpenStreetMap below, this is using the map of my heart to display visitors to Taiwan ontop.

Ship tracking

02-ship-tracker.jpg

With this full-screen map of Kaohsiung’s port, I left the best for last. This vertical touch screen allowed visitors of the expo to see and inspect ships in the port. The map in the background had all recent edits on OpenStreetMap, so it’s fair to assume they used openstreetmap.org as a base layer.

Conclusion

I had hoped to find someone to talk to about OpenStreetMap, open data or open protocols. On Saturday, I wore my Matrix t-shirt for the slim chance that someone might recognise the project. However, the city’s or residents’ data sovereignty have not been part of this expo. Let’s hope the goals of a smart city with net zero sustainability are reached anyway.

Contact me, if you want to chat about improving OpenStreetMap in Kaohsiung or elsewhere in Taiwan. I started writing scripts to compare the existing map to open datasets and mapping accessibility features. My goal is to have every bus stop, city bike station and convenience store correctly mapped in Taiwan.