Telenav giving away iPad Mini or Galaxy Note to Editor with the Most Edits Made By March 10

Editor’s note: Steve is the founder of OpenStreetMap (OSM) and Telenav’s Head of OSM. This post is also featured on his personal blog today.

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As many of you probably know, I’m heading up OSM initiatives over at Telenav, the Bay Area-company that develops GPS navigation apps like Scout.

For three years, Telenav has been dedicated to helping the community through map updates. Today, we’ve kicked off a contest to see if we can help drive even more edits over the next 30 days. Anyone can win and it’s pretty easy to enter.

All you need to do is sign up here to register for the contest and make as many quality edits as you can by the end of March 10th!

We’re asking that editors focus on the U.S. and to make edits either through OpenStreetMap.org or Battle Grid. We have created a point system for edits and the person with the most points between now and March 10 will win either an iPad Mini or a Samsung Galaxy Note (your choice!).

Good luck and happy editing!

Last Minute Valentine’s with Scout

Each year Valentine’s Day rolls around on February 14th. The date does not change, yet it still manages to creep up and catch some of us by surprise. But that doesn’t mean you need to panic and rush to the nearest florist or attempt to part the sea of people at a See’s Candies shop. That also doesn’t mean your only dinner options are McDonald’s or Taco Bell.

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Be creative. Be unique. Be a winner.

That’s Scout’s philosophy with respect to Valentine’s Day. So we put together a handy slot machine to help you decide what to do on the special day this year (and also what NOT to do). Take a spin and get the recipe for success.


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The Scout Traffic-Dodging Olympics

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are officially upon us, and with them the best winter sports athletes from across the globe have come together in Russia to compete for honor, pride, and glory.

We commend all the athletes competing in their respective disciplines, but we’d also like to draw attention to the daily Olympians. We’re talking about those of us who train every day in the traffic-dodging slalom to improve our commute.

So with that in mind, Scout is introducing the Traffic Dodging Olympics and giving you your very own chance to win! Entering is as simple as filling out the brief form and then sharing with friends and family to increase your odds to win! For all the information as well as terms and conditions, check out the official sweepstakes page.

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And while honor, pride, and glory are nothing to scoff at, we’re giving away some cool prizes as well! Check out the prize podium to see the gold, silver, and bronze level prizes:

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We also have some more ways for you to enjoy the festivities. Whether you’re looking for some activities of your own or just trying to be a spectator, Scout has you covered. To see all the ways you can get your juices flowing, click here.

Need Scout?

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Best of luck, and happy scouting!

Friday Funny: Our Top 10 Favorite Searches of the Week

It’s Friday! We hope your week has been full of amazing journeys and that you’ve let Scout guide you along the way.

Ready to kick off the weekend? Sit back and have a laugh on us (or more precisely, on other Scout users). Here is the list of our favorite (real) Scout searches for the week.

Enjoy the weekend and drive safely!

p.s. If you are the guy searching for groove cruises in Miami, send us pictures from your vacation!

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Scout iPhone Update Includes More Free Features to Help You to Beat Traffic

Ever wish you had your own personal traffic reporter monitoring your commute and your commute only every day?

Your wait is over.

As part of our Scout update on iPhone today, we have added traffic alerts that will proactively update you every day on traffic conditions and incidents along your commute. Just set Scout up to alert you before you leave each day so you know of any unforeseen problems. Or, you might find out that can push the snooze button one more time!

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Then ask Scout to alert you as your workday wraps up so you can get an idea of the traffic conditions and your options home before you hit the road.

We have also made it easier to view turns, speeds and traffic along your route with an improved route summary view. You can make changes to your route at any time by swiping left to avoid traffic.

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Don’t forget that we already added real-time adaptive routing to Scout last year (read: we had this before Google Maps) so that once you are on the road, Scout will continuously monitor for traffic and alert you of better route options while you are driving.

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You can also easily share your ETA at anytime with friends or family members so they know when to expect you.

Thanks to all Scouts who are reporting traffic congestion, road hazards, accidents and police activity straight from your Scout app! Powered by over 100 million traffic sources (including you), our traffic information and updates continue to improve daily.

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We are working every day to add features and content that will improve your daily commute. Let us know what you think and if we have helped you save time while on the road!

It’s Time to Make OpenStreetMap Your Only Street Map

Editor’s note: Steve is the founder of OpenStreetMap (OSM) and Telenav’s Head of OSM. This post is also featured on his personal blog today.

Current OSM map vs. Google Map of Sochi, Russia  where the 2014 Olympic Games begin on Feb. 7 (Thanks to Alastair Coote for bringing this to our attention!)
Current OSM map vs. Google Map of Sochi, Russia where the 2014 Olympic Games begin on Feb. 7
(Thanks to Alastair Coote for bringing this to our attention!)

Today at Telenav we’ve announced that we have acquired skobbler – an OpenStreetMap (OSM) navigation company based in Germany – for approximately $24 million. skobbler brings a super popular OSM navigation app and 80+ employees in Europe to Telenav, expanding our reach globally across many of our products, services and offices.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, OpenStreetMap is the worldwide wiki-map that anyone can edit. When I founded OSM nearly a decade ago, my vision was to create a map everyone could use and contribute to. No strings attached. I created OSM as a non-profit community project – no one owns it and none of the community members make money from editing it. It is built and managed by people just like you, updating their neighborhood maps from their phones and computers.

Have others tried their hand at crowd-sourcing map data as well? Absolutely. Waze and Google – or, just Google now – provide similar mechanisms to improve their maps, based mostly on OSM’s innovations. With one big catch. It is very much their map. Not yours. (Just ask the developers who pay a lot of money to use it.)

OpenStreetMap is different. All of the quality data contributed is openly available – just like Wikipedia. So, anyone can download, experiment and play with it freely. It’s not locked up beyond your reach.

Mountain terrain in Sochi, Russia where skiers and other athletes will compete.
Mountain terrain in Sochi, Russia where skiers and other athletes will compete.

OSM is one of the world’s most active open and crowd-sourced projects with over 1.5 million registered editors (a number that has been doubling every year). It has grown exponentially faster than I could have ever imagined ten years ago. In fact, it has been a fantastic display map (map you can look at) for some time, mapped right down to trees and footpaths. We’ve seen many uses of OSM in that context, from mere pretty artifacts to stimulating visualizations. The quality of the map data has evolved so much that, in the past couple of years, developers like Foursquare, Pinterest and Uber have integrated OSM as a display map into their products (most likely as a way to get access to a more detailed map and to avoid those costly fees from Google).

Today, OSM is a repository of quality map data, with more coming in than going out. I want to change that. Now it is time to leapfrog the simple design use cases – the economically efficient background usage of the map. It’s time to take OSM and harness it for everyday navigation. That’s where the users are and where we can really make difference.

I’d like it to get OSM to seven billion contributors in the next year or two. The only real way to get there is to allow a significant amount of consumers to get their hands on the map. I want more mobile users to have the chance to navigate with it and provide feedback as they go. This feedback can be implicit in their GPS trails, or explicit in their feedback to us as they tell us where the map needs improvement.

Turn-by-turn navigation on our phones is the way most people in the world use maps today, and it takes incredible effort and work from companies like Telenav and skobbler to mold OSM in to something a consumer will get a thrill from using. That’s what we’re focused on: getting OSM in to the hands of the everyday person, so that it’s part of our daily lives.

While Wikipedia proved the crowd sourcing model, OpenStreetMap is about taking it to the next level, switching it into warp drive, turning up the volume, pressing ‘play’ and not looking back. Now it’s about closing the loop. It’s no longer about taking OSM data, filtering and massaging it in to a simple map to put pins on top of. It’s about solving real problems for users – how to get somewhere – and providing them with a great experience that they are inherently a part of, by fixing the map as they go. To make this work smoothly requires tremendous engineering effort, orders of magnitude beyond providing display maps. We, at Telenav, have taken on that challenge and I am personally extremely excited to be a part of the team that is going to make it happen.

For nearly ten years, OSM has had potential for developers and consumers, let’s switch it up and give it potential because of developers and consumers. While others have spent billions of dollars building unsustainable maps based on your contributions, OSM is free, easy and available to all.

The project is ready for you. Here is how you can contribute:

…and watch for OSM data and services coming to Scout, our award-winning consumer navigation offering, very soon.

It is time to make the switch: make OpenStreetMap your only street map.

Seattle versus Denver in the Battle for Best Tailgate

Super Bowl XLVIII will be a contest between two evenly matched teams. The Seattle Seahawks were 13-3 in the regular season and boast the NFL’s best defense. The Denver Broncos also went 13-3, largely on the strength of the league’s top offense. At the moment, the Broncos are slight favorites, but general consensus is that it’s anyone’s game.

NFL_Barrel_ManInside their home stadiums, Seattle has their thunderous 12th Man, and the Denver faithful are known to get creative, daring and dashing with their wardrobe choices. But with the Super Bowl in New Jersey, it’s the fan base that can perform on the road that may make the critical difference.

So, for a championship tiebreaker, let’s take a look at the tailgates.

Denver’s Key Players:
Leading the charge from Lot C is the BroncosBus. A revamped school bus, this blue-and-orange beast is the pre-game HQ for fans looking for top-notch nosh, or to stoke the fires of friendly competition with a game of cornhole or beer pong before kickoff.

Vying for Rookie of the Year is the Bronco Bronco. This altered SUV has all the essentials: a kitchen, shower, toilet, and a full bed. But the Bronco2 makes its mark with the intangibles: an original blue-and-orange color scheme, custom upholstery, and a rear hatch that opens to reveal a 40-inch HDTV. Though small and new to the squad, the Bronco Bronco has become a key piece to the party atmosphere, making this vehicle the Wes Welker of the Mile High tailgate scene.

Seattle’s Starters:
The Seahawks have a young upstart of their own: Bussell Wilson. After logging nearly a quarter of a million miles as a stubby school bus, this jalopy was reborn with a blue-green-and-gray paint job, a barbeque, and a beer tap pouring local brew from an onboard kegorator. Like its QB namesake, Bussell Wilson is criticized for its size, but being compact only enhances its mobility in the parking lot.

Seahawks_Fans_are...the_12th_Man_(5341448344)The undisputed captain of the CenturyLink Field tailgate is Hawk One, a former 1978 Holiday Rambler transformed into a 33-foot rebuttal to the notion that Seattle is the “worst tailgating city in America.” With a tricked-out interior and dedication to the community, Hawk One draws fans and celebrities alike, including former Seahawks Jim Zorn and Steve Largent (and even an appearance from Sir Mix-A-Lot).

Winner:
With a more innovative playbook, and a touch more talent on the roster, it’s Seattle in an upset. But fear not, Bronco fans. The 12th Man has a longer road to travel to New Jersey, and an extra 1,000 miles on the interstate could dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

So on Super Bowl Sunday, may the better team win. And, in the spirit of sportsmanship, may the fans from the victorious side provide beer and brats for their dispirited tailgating brethren.

Friday Funny: Our Top 10 Favorite Searches of the Week

It’s Friday (!) and high time to lighten the mood by kicking off the weekend with a new column we think we’ll call “Friday Funny: Our Top 10 Favorite Searches of the Week.”

When most of you launch Scout and click on the search box, you type in things like “Starbucks,” “best Thai restaurant near me,” “Home” or maybe even a specific address. These are all commands that Scout will understand and use to help you get to where you want to be.

But sometimes, people search for some …. well, let’s just call them ‘interesting’ things. And, we just have to wonder, “Is this what you really meant to search for?….”

Enjoy our top 10 favorites from this week’s (real!) searches and Happy Friday!


The Worst Traffic Jams in History

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From marriage proposal-inducing pileups to politically-charged bridge closures, these traffic fiascos were bad enough to make our list of the worst traffic jams in history.

China National Highway 101 Traffic Jam - Getting stuck in traffic is the pits, but imagine a traffic jam slowing down thousands of vehicles for more than 10 days. That’s exactly what happened on the China National Highway 110 in August of 2010. According to Wikipedia, drivers moved along at a rate of 0.6 miles per day. A 40 percent increase in traffic volume year over year contributed to the pile-up, which was 60 percent more than the design capacity of the freeway. Road construction also played a crucial role, reducing road capacity by 50 percent.  Stranded drivers had no other choice than to buy goods from locals selling goods at inflated prices. Bottles of water normally selling for 1 yuan, sold for 10 yuan. The price of instant noodles tripled. By late August, the traffic jam finally dissipated.

Chris Christie Bridge ScandalIn September of 2013 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed two access lanes of the George Washington Bridge claiming to be conducting a traffic study. The bridge serves as a major commuter route, and the closure resulted in a weeklong traffic jam. Rumors arose suggesting that the lane closures were created in retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who endorsed Governor Chris Christie’s opponent in the 2013 gubernatorial campaign. Closer investigation of the fiasco unearthed evidence that two Port Authority officials closely tied to Christie were connected to the lane closures.

CarmageddonAs part of the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, a section of the Los Angeles I-405 was closed for an entire weekend. A 10-mile closure that stretched between two of the nation’s busiest interchanges, Carmageddon had a ripple effect on a dozen major highways. In preparation for the unprecedented 53-hour shutdown, officials recruited celebrities likes Ashton Kutcher and Erik Estrada to warn motorists about the impending closures.

Brazilian Traffic Jam Love Songs? - The last traffic jam on our list isn’t a cause of traffic so much as it is a positive outcome, and proof that there’s a silver lining in every situation. Febiana Crespo, a commuter in Sao Paulo, the Brazilian city known for some of the world’s worst congestion, met her husband while stuck in a traffic jam. In the midst of the hectic commute, it is not uncommon to see people reading the newspaper, applying make-up, or in this case, chatting it up with other drivers. Crespo told BBC News that she and her husband have been married for nine years.