Geofiction in OSM

Posted by UN1TY on 7 February 2020 in English (English)

Often, mappers are advised by admin to use OSM as inspiration for their work.

So naturally, some of us might gravitate towards the more extreme or interesting examples of real world mapping, like this.

One thing that this, and many other weird examples of mapping have in common is their location - China.

As it turns out, every map of China is geofiction - by law ! According to Article 61 of The 1992 Mapping and Survey Law of the People’s Republic of China, any surveying or mapping of mainland China is illegal without specific authorization from Beijing.

So bottom line, anything you see in China on OSM, Google Maps, or any other map, is unreliable unless you confirm it with an outside source.

What complicates things is that some of the more extreme stuff is real. For example, this 33-km bridge over the open sea is real because it leads to this real port (though I can’t confirm if the mountain in the middle is real).

The good news is that we can still use Dubai for inspiration.


Comment from histor on 7 February 2020 at 12:08

But this bridge is real [] - I drive about with a bus. And here [] you have a model of the town 1:1000 - where you can identify all houses (so your hotel etc.)

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Comment from Toadwart on 7 February 2020 at 12:15

Any sanctioned map has to be wrong: [,114.0709619,983m/data=!3m1!1e3]

But as far as i think, OSM does not lie within PRC jurisdiction. Whereas google complies to the rules as part of some kind of a deal.

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Comment from austinhuang on 7 February 2020 at 14:18

Shanghainese here. (Not living there currently)

  • Most maps you see (Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc) uses data from AutoNavi (sanctioned) WITHOUT coordinate correction (probably for secret protection?), See here. OSM, of course, is a community effort and therefore unlicensed.
  • Yes, Yangshan (lit. "Ocean hill") Deep-water Port is a thing. And yes, there's a small hill ("Xiaoyangshan" lit. "Small Yangshan") in it. And yes, the bridge exists.
  • China is still a good inspiration if your country likes to burn a lot of cash (Just look at how many tunnels there are between the two shores of Shanghai), but if you want a reasonable fiscal situation then be careful
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Comment from Martinawa on 7 February 2020 at 18:59

I agree that i've seen things in OSM, specially in China, that would be enraging to see in OGF.

Sometimes I think we should be less outraged by this megalomaniac mapping of features that are actual feats of modern engineering, but the problem is that whoever breaks the mold is going to make everyone go nuts and start mapping kilometric motorway bridges/tunnels all over the place. So I don't know if this features should be part of OGF at all.

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