Map post: where OpenStreetMap outmaps Google Maps.

Google Maps is good. So good, in fact, that we forget there are other mapping services. But first off, don’t worry, I won’t let you forget. Second off, Google Maps is sometimes outmapped. Not often, but sometimes.

The neighborhood I live in (within Amsterdam) is called IJburg. This is a set of artificial islands that were started being built in the very late 20th century; I believe the first house on “my” island was built in 2008… so quite recent.

And it’s still being built.

Amsterdam is adding several new islands to this district. To the current Zeeburgereiland, Steigereiland, Haveneiland, Kleine and Grote Rieteiland and Rieteiland-Oost come Centrumeiland, Strandeiland, Middeneiland, and Buiteneiland — finished sometime in the next couple of decades, I guess.

The island being developed currently is Centrumeiland: still physically attached to Haveneiland (the biggest of the islands), it will be detached (I think) once it reaches readiness and significant height above water. This will be another couple of years, but the first house on the island is almost ready! This, of course, is all amazing and the human achievement involved blows my mind (although my enthusiasm might not be fully shared by residents of Durgerdam on the other side of the Buiten-IJ who are now looking at a set of brand new buildings from their centuries-old little houses.)

But Google just can’t keep up with it.

Even though satellite imagery already showed growth last year, they didn’t follow up on the regular map. The people moving into that one house that’s almost done will live on water, according to Google. Which is usually not very far from the truth in the Netherlands, but should probably be corrected anyway…

(I stole the above animgif from this post I wrote on the topic a while ago. I also wrote some other (Hungarian) posts on the topic, in case you can read Hungarian or you think it’s a good idea to start learning it through posts geeking out over maps.)

Centrumeiland, of course, has since grown significantly even compared to the satellite image above. According to this map, the current (and not very good) version of Blijburg, Haas&Popi is also next to the island, in water. And so are many trucks and other machinery.


If you really want to see current state of Centrumeiland, OpenStreetMap, the collaborative mapping project, has your back. This is how IJburg looks like at the moment:

Look at this beauty. The whole body of the new island, the new (not yet complete) canal between Haveneiland and Centrumeiland, the new streets… everything is there. If I zoom out a bit: all other brand new developments are present; the Waterwonen on the NW end of the island, the new houses on Steigereiland, and a brand new bridge near the Yachthaven Haveneiland that I haven’t even noticed yet in the physical world.

For comparison, here’s the comparative animgif between OpenStreetMap and Google Maps:

…and the same, but with current Google Satellite Maps also overlayed:

Funny to see how Google didn’t yet update the imagery of what they think is Haveneiland, but did include some new imagery of the lake around it where some new island is already visible. (And funny to see that to Google it’s more important to highlight the Shell station in Diemen than to do the actual updates to the map.)

Just to cover the other contestants, Apple Maps got stuck somewhere around 2018:

…and Here Maps WeGo somewhere in between:

So there you have it.

Sometimes Google Maps is outmapped, and when it is, it’s most likely by the awesome community behind OpenStreetMap.

I must note here, that I actually accidentally discovered this positive discrepancy in Endomondo, that uses OpenStreetMap.

I also have to add that I almost called OpenStreetMap “the wikipedia of mapping”, but that is of course Wikimapia as I now just remembered… and it still exists! I loved to browse it when I was younger… and before somehow it kinda fell out of my bookmarks.

Header image: Amsterdam IJburg — by Debot — thanks!

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