Is Really Better Than OpenStreetMap?

12:25 am PHT

There are only three general crowdsourced mapping projects active in the Philippines that are worthy of note: OpenStreetMap, Google Map Maker, and Since I’m heavily involved in the project, I often write about OpenStreetMap. I’ve also written several pieces about Google Map Maker but I have never really written about save for a few sporadic mentions here and there.

Anyway, is a GPS-mapping project with the primary goal of creating the best routable Garmin map of the Philippines. Garmin is a GPS device manufacturer, and is, based on anecdotal evidence, the most popular brand for personal navigation devices (PNDs) here in the country (and I’m guessing that the success of has a hand in that)., or RG for short, formally started at around the same time that OpenStreetMap took off in the Philippines, which is around 2008.

Let me say that I’m an admirer of RG. They know the importance of good data referenced with GPS and as a community, the regulars are a pretty helpful bunch. I actually envy the camaraderie of their group and I hope that the Philippine OpenStreetMap community would have the same level of group dynamics. In addition, if I were to recommend a Philippine Garmin map, I wouldn’t hesitate to point people out to since they do have more routable data than OpenStreetMap (which also has a free Garmin GPS map of the Philippines). While I’m a vocal OSM supporter, I’m also quite practical and so you could do worse than try and get the latest RG Contributors Map.

So if I like RG, why don’t I join that project? Well, I don’t own any Garmin device and I have no immediate need to route all over the country so their map is not that useful for me. I also like how OSM is a more altruistic project in that it freely gives away its data without really asking anything in return unlike that reserves its best map for people who contribute (which, I have to emphasize, is not a bad thing). In addition, with OpenStreetMap data, you can repurpose it to create paper maps, routable maps (and not just for Garmin devices), and web-based maps (something I really like) unlike RG which is only for PNDs.

I also am a bit turned off with the fanboy mentality of some of the long-time RG members. When a person was considering whether this commercial non-Garmin PND with its own Philippine map is any good compared to Garmin+RG, one member remarked without proof, “Believe me you’re wasting your time. It’s not an option especially if you have the Roadguide Contributors Map.” In a different exchange, another member declared that “Our map is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there’s going to be!” It appears that for some of the RG supporters, it’s inconceivable that there would be something better than their Contributors Map.

Well, let me prove that the Contributors Map, while quite extensive and excellent in its coverage, is not the be all and end all of routable maps for the Philippines. Shown below are several map comparisons of selected places as seen in OpenStreetMap and via Garmin MapSource. The RG map is their 1.21 map released last January 20, while the OSM map is as of January 22.

First up is Malapascua Island in Cebu.

As you can see, is quite blank, but the island has a wealth of data in OSM lovingly contributed by Jim, a British expat who enjoys visiting the resort islands of the Philippines.

Some might say that you don’t really need a PND while visiting a tiny island so they’d counter that Malapascua is not a good example. Well then, let’s go elsewhere.

Shown above is Tagbilaran City in Bohol. The data in OSM was donated by Arivac, a consortium who did some research on this island, and further edited by doy_nick. So, would you still use to guide you in Bohol’s capital given that there is better data elsewhere?

How about Taal and Lemery in Batangas, depicted above? If you wanted to visit the miraculous waters of Our Lady of Caysasay, then OpenStreetMap would help you more than RG. The data in OSM is thanks to Basilisk.

We also have San Pablo City, Laguna which has been mapped in detail by resident Ian Lopez, OSM Philippines’ third most prolific mapper.

If you wanted to buy some wood carvings in Paete, which would you prefer to guide you, the data in RG or the OSM map of this town, which was contributed by tutubi, a native of Paete?

How about Tagaytay? While I believe that RG has slightly more points-of-interest (POIs) in this tourist city, OSM actually has better road coverage, even including streets of several residential subdivisions.

Even in Metro Manila, does not have a monopoly on better data. In UP Diliman, RG has wrong and outdated roads in the Science Education Complex.

In the heart of Intramuros, Manila, I was actually shocked to see that POI data is practically lacking in Compare with OSM.

I can show more places where OpenStreetMap has better data than Of course, it’s far easier to show the opposite since covers much more of the Philippines than OSM. The point of my comparison is to demonstrate that you should also check out other maps out there instead of relying solely on the Contributors Map. Some Garmin devices let you load two or more maps—use that feature to also load the OSM-PH Garmin Map as a complement to the map. It’s free anyway! And if you’re feeling thankful, then we also won’t mind corrections or contributions coming our way. (You can contribute your data to both RG and OSM; there is no exclusivity in both projects.)  :-D

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On 9:33 a.m., 25 Jan 2011, maning wrote:

Very interesting. This is the first time I saw a visual comparison of both maps. All along, I had the assumption that RG is way better than OSM (except for Marikina which is my mapping patch and San Pablo made by ianlopez)  ;).

It is good to highlight though that many RG contributors are from the Visayas and there are probably more data in that region.

One nice feature of RG’s data workflow is the rigorous data review of each contribution before adding them into the main map. This process minimizes obvious mistakes in the data, but requires an extra effort to the reviewers.

In contrast, OSM allows anyone to add data so there is no guarantee that the initial data made by newbies are of good quality. However, since everyone can edit and check on other contributions, this eliminates the need for a review process by selected mappers.

Both projects are excellent demonstration of creating high quality geospatial data from the crowd and I encourage everyone to contribute on both projects.


On 8:44 p.m., 25 Jan 2011, seav wrote:

@maning, RG does indeed have vastly more data for the Philippines than OSM currently has. But as my examples show, there are areas where OSM shines. I’ve noticed that these tend to be places where there is no Google satellite imagery. Hehehe.

As for also contributing to RG, my time is already eaten up by OSM that I don’t have time to learn how to properly contribute data to their standards. And as I have written that I have little use for their map, I don’t bother.  :-p

Maybe in the future.


On 10:38 p.m., 25 Jan 2011, lt wrote:

Hi! Do you know where will esambale osmphil garmin maps would release version with address search?



On 10:53 p.m., 25 Jan 2011, seav wrote:

@lt, as I understand it, there is no consistent address search yet since this is a limitation of the software used to compile the Garmin map which is mkgmap. The mkgmap developers know this issue already and hopefully this can be added soon.


On 11:13 p.m., 25 Jan 2011, maning wrote:

@lt, Soon! I’m betting in a couple of months.


On 10:31 a.m., 26 Jan 2011, tutubi wrote:

i also noticed that with RG, though I only have the demo version. their Vigan map may be complete (almost). look also at the other towns of Laguna near paete.

i usually use my garmin to map and not for navigation, I’ve been testing routing accuracy lately and wifey can attest how many times she was saved by OSM to get back home

i remember when i visited San pablo, there were only two POIs I can add, Sulyap Cafe and the jump-off point to Lake Pandin. Such detail present there  :P


On 10:56 a.m., 27 Jan 2011, maning wrote:

more info re: address search.

It does work on older units (etrex, 60csx, 76csx). The index that is created is half-baked and you need to send the map via mapsource to complete the indexing.

This does not work on newer devices like nuvis.


On 4:42 p.m., 29 Jan 2011, lt wrote:

@seav; @maning»

Thanks.. hopefully, they’ll be able to release mkgmap that will support address search. I believe that’s the only advantage RG has over the OSM being compiled by maning.


On 8:15 a.m., 30 Jan 2011, seav wrote:

@maning, I hope so! I think the lack of street/address search is the biggest usability problem of the OSM-PH Garmin map, more than the lack of data.

@tutubi, thanks for fixing the routing problems! I myself fix those that I can find but I don’t go all over Metro Manila so I can’t fix them all. Hehehe.  :-)

@lt, let’s hope and wait for it.


On 9:56 a.m., 3 Feb 2011, maning wrote:

Yes, street search is working (but buggy). Address search is a different issue, even if we can make it work, data is too sparse to be reliable.

Another interesting comparison/test would be for routing. Have you tested the routing suggestions for both maps?


On 1:05 p.m., 3 Feb 2011, Ice wrote:

It seams doesn’t accept any negative words about their project, like usual also the discussion about this posting was deleted from their forum.


On 1:20 p.m., 3 Feb 2011, Ice wrote:

Here’s a Link of the deleted posting.


On 1:21 p.m., 3 Feb 2011, Ice wrote:

Sorry, hope this works:

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