Plutocrat (osm-ph mapper)

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Part of my series featuring an OSM-PH mapper.


This week is Jim (aka Plutocrat). Plutocrat is an OSMer for more than 1.5 years, he is the mapper responsible for updating Boracay data when Entropia posted a mapping bounty months ago.

Who is Plutocrat?

For work, I run an Information Security business, Datalude, and try to persuade people that actually thinking about their IT security is a good idea BEFORE they lose their data, rather than trying to clean up AFTERWARDS. Its rather like selling insurance. For leisure, I like to cook (and eat), go hiking (although not much in Manila), lie on beaches, and tinker with my computers.

How did you discovered openstreetmap?

I can’t actually remember. I think I’d just moved to Manila and I was looking for a map of the area so that I could acquaint myself. There were only a few ragtag bits and pieces online at the time, and OSM seemed like something that would work. To give this some context, I came here from Hong Kong where there have historically been many public maps online (e.g. and, so coming here where there was nothing was a jolt for me.

What is your mapping rig (equipment) and how do you gather map data?

I have a very simple cheap bluetooth GPS receiver – a NAVman B10 which I picked up in Hong Kong for about USD 35. I’d been watching these come down in price when the Sirf chips appeared, and I finally grabbed one, having reached the limit of what I could map on OSM by tracing Yahoo images. I use this via bluetooth with my phone, a cheap Sony Ericson K530i running MobileTrailExplorer, which will record tracks and waypoints, and display OSM in the background. If my girlfriend is driving somewhere, I also use it via GPS with a Ubuntu Linux laptop running TangoGPS. I recently found out about Trek Buddy, and installed on my phone, but haven’t really used it properly yet. So its a very basic, low cost setup: apart from the GPS, I had everything already.

My mapping is generally fairly ad hoc. If I know I’ll be going somewhere where the mapping coverage is bad, I’ll record traces. Manila is pretty well covered so I tend to wait until I’m out of Manila and I like the virgin territory best, where you’re putting down entirely new traces on the map. I think I’m more of a big picture mapper. I find it hard to obsess about all the small details of what should be tagged as what, but I love filling in the blank spaces.

Having said that, I did a fairly detailed micro mapping of Boracay a few months back which was fun, and I was recently going to do a thorough job on Salcedo village, but some other mapper beat me to it.

Other than that, I’ll occasionally visit the OSM website, and scan areas on OSM which I know well and correct things I can see are wrong.

What’s is your OSM purity self-test score?

A very healthy 0.75.

Tell us some weird/strange/funny incident you encountered during mapping.

Can’t really think of any, sorry.

What is it that you HATE most about osm (we all love OSM, some things just needs improvement)?

The fact that the Yahoo! aerial coverage isn’t as good as Google’s. I feel if we had better satellite photography to use, the OSM map of Philippines would be so much better. There are a lot of people here with time and computers, but not so many with GPS units, so this is really holding us back compared to other countries.

Why is openstreetmap important to you and the Philippines?

I enjoy playing with OSM in the same way as people do knitting or crosswords. Its relaxing getting things in order. (However you probably wouldn’t think so if you saw my desk.) Its important to the Philippines because there really are no good maps of this country, and particularly free ones.

How can OSM-PH expand its coverage to other parts of the Philippines?

Better satellite coverage. Evangelism. Talking to government agencies and convincing them to put some resources behind this project. As GPS chips start to be included in lower end phones, then crowdsourcing will become more important, but we’re not there yet.

Yes, plutocrat, not yet, but soon enough! Thanks!

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