Artur Bergman discusses the effort by Collective Research Initiatives Trust (CRIT) to study urbanism by using Mumbai as a case study. In the process they have created Free Mumbai Map. This has been created using volunteers and using software from OSGeo, the open source geospatial foundation.
I think this is tremendous, not just because this has brought invaluable data online, but also because it has been created using volunteer collaboration. Geographical data is critical for functioning of a city and Mumbai is a metro bursting at its seams. It is not only the creation, the challenge continues in maintaining the core information and other contextual information uptodate.
This information online can be used to communicate to the common man – right from traffic crawls to problem areas during emergencies. And of course there are others out there, like Map My India or Google Maps, but this project is unique because it has been brought up by volunteer contributions.
It will be great if users report back updates and changes in their local area. There is nothing better than contribution from the users to maintain such huge mass of distributed information. Tele Atlas used a similar approach. Of course, there are pros and cons to everything, but if collaborated well, the user generated content can make it more efficient.