• My application tracks cancer-related trends across multiple US States.
  • Most of the patient data in the application deals with people who live in poor, rural, or under-served regions.
  • We want to start taking data from some of our demographic-related reports and plotting them on maps (e.g., pointing out cancer trends / screening by region and county)

That all being said, is it better for us to go with an Enterprise-level license of Google Maps due to the way the data is collected (by professionals with fancy tech)? Or is it better for me to go with OpenStreetMap since it may contain mapping data for more of the extremely remote areas some of our patients live in?

  • It is all dependent on the area(s) you are interested in.
    – Mapperz
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


There are a few degrees to this... if you're doing something like choropleth overlays, whether roads are perfectly formed isn't actually that big of a deal, and you have plenty of cheaper options in the OSM camp, like MapQuest Open, Stamen US Terrain, and MapBox Light (last is a self-link).

Rural streets in the US on OSM tend to be unedited TIGER data, which is less accurate than Google Maps. Cities tend to be heavily edited and are sometimes more complete than Google's. Given the stratospheric cost of Google's enterprise solutions, it might actually be cheaper to pay editors than to pay for a Google license.

  • 2
    I haven't seen much evidence in the areas I geocode to suggest rural streets in Google maps aren't mainly derived from TIGER files as well. Do you have experience that suggests otherwise?
    – Andy W
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 16:54
  • TIGER data has some signature problems outlined in an OSM wiki page: wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/TIGER_fixup and I haven't yet seen an example of Google Maps having these problems. They release no information actual data sourcing post-going-solo, so there really isn't much else to go on.
    – tmcw
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 17:43
  • 1
    I have seen some of those problems in Google Maps in the areas I have needed to geocode. (+1) For noting that with choropleth overlays it is unlikely to matter, but I'm still highly suspect of the suggestion that Google Maps is much better than TIGER files. Perhaps in small part and in certain locations Google is better, but it is probably best to assume they all can have GRAVE ERRORS (IMO likely in regularity) throughout the rural United States.
    – Andy W
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 17:54

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