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This post demonstrates that Grab is using OpenStreetMap (OSM) Data

Previously I had written that Uber was using OSM Data now it seems that Grab has followed suite by displaying information derived from OSM without attributing the project.

The context where this is used is the same, when you make a booking via Grab, the app displays a route preview in blue on top of the underlying map, and can probably be considered to be Produced Work under OSM’s License and Community Guidelines requiring attribution.

Data in OSM is essentially a series of straight lines drawn up by mappers, combinations of lines are then used as an imperfect approximation of physical objects on the ground. For example, a curve on the road can be represented as 4, 5 or even 10 lines linked to each other, these can be perfectly spread out or unbalanced, depending on the mapper. It is astronomically unlikely however for there to be two copies that are imperfect in identical ways. One analogy is if you find two photos of the Mona Lisa, both with identical black splotches on her nose, you know they came from the same place.

In the following screenshots, the blue lines are the route preview in the Grab app, while the thin black lines are data from OpenStreetMap.

In the above image near Chidlom, you can see that the curves in the road for both the route preview and OSM data are composed of the same number of lines changing directions in exactly the same way.

Above you can see little bumps in the blue line that shows connection points that are identical to the points in the OSM Data.

One could argue, but those are all public information and Grab could have derived all of this from their own GPS data or even another source such as HERE or Google Maps. So what about private property where the lines don’t quite follow the physical features of the road? The following is from the RBSC Polo club, a member only club in Bangkok Thailand.

Everything from the public road all the way to the number of nodes used in the roundabout shows that Grab is using the same underlying data.

In conclusion, it is certain Grab is using OSM data for route preview and fare calculation without attributing the OSM project.


CC BY 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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