Just in time for the solstice on the 21st, today we interview Demeter (Dimi) Sztanko, the maker of this site (built using OpenStreetMap, of course) which shows which streets in a city are aligned directly with the rising/setting sun on the day of the solstice.
1. Who are you and what do you do? What got you into OpenStreetMap?
People call me Dimi, I have roots all around eastern Europe. Born in Ukraine, lived in Hungary, currently reside in London and god knows what will be next.
Seven years ago, when I arrived to UK, I knew almost nothing about the capital and it’s great hidden secrets. Best way to discover it was to get a bicycle and just wander around. Andy Allen’s OpenCycleMap was a really fascinating map. It included not only bicycle routes, but also pubs, which seemed like it was created just for people like me! I have to say discovering this map was the key point after which getting familiar with London and socializing became much smoother. This is how I learned about the OSM project. It made me love London.
2. Tell us about your solstice streets site? Where did you get the idea?
Last year on one of the Christmas parties we were discussing the importance of solstices in them human history. Someone mentioned Avenue des Champs-Elysees is aligned that way, but wasn’t sure. At that moment I realized I can use my geeky superpowers to reveal the truth. It was related to maps, was technically not trivial but still doable and promised absolutely no financial benefits - mine type of project!
It turned out Avenue des Champs-Elysees is not aligned that way, by the way. It has a different story and it is very exciting, too.
3. You’ve done a couple other interesting OSM experiments like walks.io. Tell us a bit about those please.
‘Create a map for wandering around’ is probably my mapping motto. My first project was a detailed visualisation of boris bike routes, based on data from Ollie O’Brien. Then it was a map of London commuting times. My latest obsession is walks.io, a routing solution for circular hikes - the types of hikes you most frequently are looking for if you plan to return to where you left your car. Since I do it in my spare time only, the project is moving really slowly, but it is moving every day - hope to release something new by the beginning of the next season.
There are some other projects in my mind but I prefer to keep them in secret. Mostly because I don’t know if I will ever complete them.
4. OSM recently celebrated its 10th birthday, where do you think the project will be in 10 years time?
It all depends on how we use it. Adding new features to the map is important, but not enough. More user friendly applications that use this data have to be created. Creating projects based on it it probably the best way to popularize it. And I see an ocean of possibilities here.