Wheelmap – The Right Way for the World to Tag OpenStreetMap

I recently came across Wheelmap, a website (and also an associated iPhone app) specifically built to display – and accumulate – wheelchair accessibility information for points of interest (POIs) such as pubs, cafes, shops on OpenStreetMap. As you move around the map, an overlay highlights the POIs and colour-codes their accessibility for wheelchair users. Adding or changing the accessibility for a POI is as easy as clicking on it and clicking one of three options – job done! The data is then fed back to OpenStreetMap (so the whole community gets the benefit of this extra “tagging” information) and Wheelmap itself updates the colour.

The website is not perfect – the location finder is not yet fully localised from its German origin, for example, also the map controls aren’t styled like the rest of the site and the default OpenStreetMap map also shows its own symbols for many POIs, so they really need their own custom render – but this is nonetheless a great implementation targeting very specific data in the OpenStreetMap database and making it absolutely trivial for anyone to enhance the map in this way. I’m a firm believer that the easier it is to do something, the greater number of people will contribute.

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