Jan 25 2011 Tue
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 RoadGuide.ph. 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 RoadGuide.ph save for a few sporadic mentions here and there.
Anyway, RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph has a hand in that). RoadGuide.ph, 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 RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph 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, RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph 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, RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph. Compare with OSM.
I can show more places where OpenStreetMap has better data than RoadGuide.ph. Of course, it’s far easier to show the opposite since RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph 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 RoadGuide.ph 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.)