Last night I attended the OpenStreetMap (OSM) London meetup to further get to know some of the team members behind this important resource we’ve come to rely on at Inquiron.

I had an interesting conversation with Grant Slater, one of the system administrators of OSM, about some of the subtleties involved in geocoding. This the process of going from a description of a location to it’s actual location on a map, usually expressed as longitude and latitude or as a geohash, which helps to answer questions such as “How do I get to X?”, “Where is X?” and “Can I deliver to X?”.

He pointed out to me that people from different countries have adopted different ways for communicating locations, for instance using intersections of two streets, eg as used in New York, boundaries, such as UK postcodes, or via points of interest. This is something that a fully-fledged and open source address finder such as OSMs own Nominatim will have to deal with.

We don’t currently use OSM data for our address look-up and routing, but it’s something we’re looking in to and will be reporting on in the future.

Thanks again to the OSM team for last night’s event.