The OpenStreetMap (OSM) project was founded in the United Kingdom in 2004 and is aimed at creating a free, world-wide geographic data set. OpenStreetMap wants to be for geodata what Wikipedia is for encyclopedic knowledge. The focus is mainly on transport infrastructure (streets, paths, railways, rivers), but OpenStreetMap also collects a multitude of points of interest, buildings, natural features and landuse information, as well as coastlines and administrative boundaries.
OpenStreetMap relies mostly on data collected by project members using their GPS devices and entered into the central database with specialized editors. For some areas, third party data has been imported.
OpenStreetMap data quality and coverage differ between regions. Many European cities are covered to a level of detail that surpasses what proprietary data vendors have to offer. Often, OpenStreetMap will also be the first to have a new housing development or a new motorway exit mapped. But in some, mostly rural areas there might be nothing in the database except some primary roads.
OpenStreetMap is a community project in which everyone can participate. Prior geography, cartography, or GIS knowledge is not required.
OpenStreetMap is a free and noncommercial project; everyone can just download OpenStreetMap data free of charge and process it. But not everyone has the means and the time to extract the OpenStreetMap data they need and put it into a format suitable for their project. Additionally, professional users often require a certain level of service and continuity which a hobby project cannot provide.
At Geofabrik, we bridge the gap between free project and professional users with custom data offerings, with consulting, support, training, and software development. We help our customers and the community to work together for mutual benefit.
If you enlist the services of Geofabrik, you will have some of Germany's most experienced "OpenStreetMappers" working for you.
Geofabrik supports the OpenStreetMap project in many ways. Our team consists of active members of the OpenStreetMap community and we are a cooperate member of OpenStreetMap Foundation.
We helped the development of the German OpenStreetMap community in the beginning by sponsoring handling and shipping of a pool of project-owned GPS devices that were available for mapping events.
Geofabrik Downloads is a website offering OpenStreetMap raw data extracts for various countries all over the world for free. By offering these regional extracts data users do not always have to always download the full planet dump which is tens of gigabytes large and time-consuming to process. Over the years, Geofabrik Downloads has become the go-to place for anyone who wants to download OpenStreetMap data excerpts.
Geofabrik Tools is a collection of a few tools which serve various purposes. Map Compare allows you to compare OpenStreetMap maps rendered by several providers with maps from other providers (Google, Bing etc.). The OpenStreetMap Inspector is a widely used quality assurance tool and shows some special-interest data that is not shown elsewhere.