From Wikimania 2013 • Hong Kong

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2013.

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Submission no.
Subject no.
An old map that is used in several places across Wikimedia projects.
How it could work
Title of the submission
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Susanna Ånäs & Maarten Dammers
Country of origin
Finland & the Netherlands
Wikimedia Finland & Wikimedia Nederland
E-mail address &
Susannaanas & Multichill
Personal homepage or blog

Wikimedia Commons currently contains quite a few old maps. Some maps are used at Wikipedia (or one of the other projects) and others just sit on our servers. Several GLAM partners are interested in sharing their digital collection of old maps. It would be nice to get more of these maps used.

We are proposing to create a maps environment within Wikimedia by the name Wikimaps.

Detailed proposal

An enormous amount of maps are locked in archives. They have not been digitized, they are behind cumbersome user interfaces or copyrights limit their use. In most cases the map is just an image and does not align with real world coordinates.

The main goals of this project is to make maps findable and accessible. We're not going to build something completely new from scratch, we're going to adapt and improve existing software. In point:

  • Wikimaps should use images from Wikimedia Commons
  • Wikimaps should only use free and open source software
  • Wikimaps should use OpenStreetMap as base map
  • It should be possible for users to rectify old maps onto the base map
  • It should be possible for users to add the where to the map
  • It should be possible for users to add the what to the map
  • It should be possible for users to add the when to the map
  • It should be possible for users to add the source to the map
  • Wikimaps should be able to show both rectified and not yet rectified maps
  • Wikimaps should be able to show one or multiple maps at the same time
  • Wikimaps should be easy to search and select

Objectives of the project

  • COMBINE existing Wikimedia components to create a maps environment (Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, MediaWiki, OSM integration, GLAM-Wiki toolset)
  • LOCATE and further develop missing open source tools (georeferencing...)
  • ESTABLISH a Wikimedia Maps & geodata community
  • CONNECT with experts, enthusiasts and other open data actors
  • CREATE models for cartographic GLAM cooperation (scanning, events, uploads...)
  • DESIGN necessary user interfaces (map selection, time sliders, embedding, layer visibility...)
  • INTEGRATE Linked Open Data efforts into this to the extent possible (spatiotemporal ontologies...)

Wikidata should probably be used as the backend to store all this data. This way Wikimaps is only a presentation layer for making maps findable and accessible. That way the project can focus on making a very user friendly interface.

Once we have the project up and running with the maps we already have at Wikimedia Commons we can use this as an incentive for GLAMs to also start contributing maps.

See more info:

Cultural and Educational Outreach
Length of presentation/talk
25 minutes
Language of presentation/talk
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Not sure (Susanna) and yes (Maarten)
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

Interested attendees

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  1. Phoebe (talk) 05:05, 1 May 2013 (UTC) interesting! I occasionally help with a maps library and the challenges of digital old maps are big.[reply]
  2. Legoktm (talk) 13:04, 4 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Kolossos (talk) 20:27, 6 May 2013 (UTC) Very interesting, especially in combination with Open Historical Map[reply]
  4. Yug (talk) 19:21, 29 May 2013 (UTC) I'am for it ![reply]
  5. Chuq (talk) 00:20, 30 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  6. CristianCantoro (talk) 13:19, 30 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Fabrice Florin (WMF) (talk) 00:14, 5 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  8. --Barbara Fischer (WMDE) (talk) 03:42, 7 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Jensbest (talk) 00:18, 10 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  10. --វ័ណថារិទ្ធ (Vantharith) (talk) 07:23, 10 August 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Add your username here.