Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

Because I Like them, and They Look Good

Posted by alexkemp on 31 August 2016 in English (English)

good ladybirds

Mapping on the flat bit of Marshall Hill at the top & a bit of the wall at the front of one house had some Ladybirds fastened to the wall. The woman of the house told me that the rear of their place had loads of different things attached to it, and she had recently let some spread to the front. I asked if there was a particular reason for the ladybirds, and she said “because I like them, and they look good”.

And for the same reason, here's a little tableaux spotted at a bungalow near Marshall Hill Drive:

squirrel corner

Location: Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Analysis of usage of similar tags over time

Posted by Math1985 on 31 August 2016 in English (English)

Recently, a new tool was created by Martin Raifer (@tyrasd) to generate graphs of the usage of tags over time. This is a great tool that gives us more insight in what drives the choice of tags by mappers. In this diary, I compare the usage of some related tags.

amenity=public_building versus office=government versus office=administrative

amenity=public_building versus office=government versus office=administrative

We can see that amenity=public_building was added to the map features page wiki in March 2006, before it even was used once in the wild. The tag started being used later that year, and usage increased rapidly from there on. No increase in usage could be detected when JOSM or Potlatch added support for the tag. Growth in usage slowed down in 2013, and in 2014 even a decrease started. I wonder if anybody has a hypothesis for the cause of this decrease.

office=government was added to the wiki in May 2010, when two objects were tagged as such. After the features was documented on the wiki, usage immediately increased. The tag office=administrative was added to the wiki in September 2011, when about 180 objects with this tag were in use. The increase of the usage of office=government and office=administrative sped up when iD added support in October 2013.

Full timeline:

  • 2006-03-24 wiki: amenity=public_building added to map features
  • 2007-10-16 JOSM: amenity=public_building added
  • 2008-02-21 wiki: amenity=public_building page created
  • 2010-05-25 wiki: amenity=public_building marked as 'do not use'
  • 2010-05-25 wiki: office=government created
  • 2010-07-09 Potlatch 2: amenity=public_building supported
  • 2011-09-06 wiki: office=administrative created
  • 2013-02-18 wiki: amenity=public_building marked deprecated in map features
  • 2013-10-30 iD: office=administrative, office=government added
  • 2015-11-15 JOSM: office=administrative, office=government added
  • 2016-03-02 wiki: office=administrative and amenity=public_building deprecated
  • 2016-04-01 JOSM: amenity=public_building dropped and deprecation warning added

shop=seafood versus shop=fishmonger

shop=seafood versus shop=fishmonger

Usage for both tags was around 15 shops until voting and documentation started. Potlatch 2 added a preset for seafood despite fishmonger winning a vote. When Potlatch 2 added the preset, the tagging of seafood strongly increased (despite the vote and documentation supporting fishmonger). When JOSM added seafood half a year later, usage of this tag rapidly grew too, causing two similar tags to exist in parallel. A deprecation warning for fishmonger on the wiki had little effect. In 2013, iD added fishmonger, but moved to seafood a year later. When iD moved to fishmonger, the number of newly tagged fishmongers dropped rapidly, and later even the total number of fishmongers decreased, allowing seafood to become significantly more popular. When JOSM added a deprecation warning for fishmonger, the drop intensified.

This is a clear case where the choice of tag is driven by the editor of the user (see the increase of seafood and fishmonger when Potlatch 2 and JOSM added their preset).

Full timeline:

  • 2010-06-06 voting: seafood shop accepted (and fishmonger rejected)
  • 2010-06-06 wiki: seafood page created
  • 2010-07-09 Potlatch 2: fishmonger added
  • 2010-07-29 wiki: seafood added to map features
  • 2010-10-16 JOSM: seafood added
  • 2013-03-20 iD: fishmonger added
  • 2013-09-14 wiki: fishmonger page created and marked as deprecated
  • 2014-04-08 iD: fishmonger dropped, seafood added
  • 2014-07-22 openstreetmap-carto: seafood and fishmonger rendered as dot
  • 2015-07-31 openstreetmap-carto: fishmonger and seafood rendered as fish
  • 2015-12-26 JOSM: deprecation warning for fishmonger added

amenity=swimming_pool versus leisure=swimming_pool

leisure=swimming_pool versus amenity=swimming_pool

When documentation started in 2009, amenity and leisure had both about 100 instances. This slowly increased until in 2011, suddenly the use of amenity exploded. It is not clear to me why, does anybody have an explanation? After a vote for leisure, a change of the wiki and a deprecation warning in JOSM, usage of amenity decreased.

Full timeline:

  • 2009-12-27 wiki: leisure page created (as redirect to key:leisure)
  • 2010-10-11 wiki: leisure added to map features
  • 2010-12-01 wiki: amenity page created (including mention of a proposal to merge with leisure)
  • 2010-12-23 Potlatch 2: leisure added
  • 2011-02-20 wiki: content added to leisure page
  • 2011-10-27 JOSM: leisure added
  • 2013-03-18 iD: leisure and amenity added (amenity as non-searchable)
  • 2016-01-22 voting: amenity discouraged
  • 2016-01-22 wiki: amenity page marked as discouraged
  • 2016-01-23 JOSM: deprecation warning for amenity added

shop=musical_instrument versus shop=musical_instruments

shop=musical_instrument versus shop=musical_instruments

Initially the plural was more popular. However, the singular started being used more and more when a wiki page was created and when JOSM added support for the singular, overtaking the plural in 2011. A mechanical edit in 2014 removed the remaining tags.

Full timeline:

  • 2010-07-27 wiki: singular page added to map features
  • 2010-07-28 wiki: singular page created
  • 2010-10-16 JOSM: singular added
  • 2013-09-15 wiki: plural page created
  • 2013-10-19 voting: plural marked as discouraged
  • 2013-10-21 wiki: plural page marked as discouraged
  • 2014-01-01 wiki: plural page removed
  • 2014-01-01 mechanical edit: changed all plural into singular
  • 2014-07-22 openstreetmap-carto: add seafood and fishmonger as dot
  • 2014-08-26 iD: singular added

shop=bookmaker versus shop=betting

shop=bookmaker versus shop=betting

When documentation started in 2013, about 400 shops of each type were created. Increase of both tags was about equal, until bookmaker was approved by a vote, the wiki was adapted, and iD added a preset for bookmaker. Then the use of bookmaker exploded, but since these three events were so close in time, it cannot be determined which of them was responsible for this. Usage of the tag grew rapidly after iD and JOSM support was added.

Full timeline:

  • 2013-09-12 wiki: bookmaker and betting pages created
  • 2014-01-19 voting: bookmaker approved, betting
  • 2014-01-19 wiki: betting page marked as discouraged
  • 2014-02-16 iD: bookmaker added
  • 2014-02-17 JOSM: bookmaker added
  • 2014-07-22 openstreetmap-carto: bookmaker and betting added as dot
  • 2015-10-02 openstreetmap-carto: betting dropped
  • 2015-12-26 JOSM: deprecation warning for betting added


For those who want to run their own analysis, the tool can be found at, and the source at

History of all Tags

Posted by tyr_asd on 31 August 2016 in English (English)

TL;DR: head over to for usage graphs of arbitrary OSM tags over time (by number of OSM objects).

In OpenStreetMap, tags define what an object is. Whether it is a mountain, a river, a house, or a postbox: Every map feature has it's own tag (or set of tags).

OSM doesn't have a fixed set of object categories. Over time, a more and more faceted and diverse set of features got mapped in OSM, thus the amount of different tags grew. At the same time, sometimes, tagging of a specific thing changes: Features that used to be mapped with one tag, get newer, better and more refined tags. That's OpenStreetMap evolving.

Of course, OpenStreetMap is also still growing, but not all the tags are getting more widely used at the same pace: For example, while it's quite possible that most of the world's railway stations are already mapped in OSM, there are still many juicy pastures left to be mapped out there.

a friendly goat

While there exist superb tools to get to know about the current state of all tags used in OSM (Taginfo most notably, but also the Overpass API to some extend), until now it was quite difficult to get oneself a good picture of the data evolution process. For example, questions like: from when on a specific tag was getting used, when an obsoleted tag got taken over by a different one or which tags got more traction lately are difficult questions to answer with OSM's current tool set.

For some of these questions, people programmed their own solutions, each answering their own question, like how many km's of Italy's roads were there in OSM over time (link), or how many buildings have been mapped in Austria (link). Similarly, the OSM-Analytics platform has recently started to provide such statistics for arbitrary regions for a limited set of map features (currently one can choose between buildings and roads, but there are plans to add more in the near future). What all of those tools have in common is that they can't handle the full variety of tags that's so essential in OSM.

To step into the gap between tools like taginfo (where the full variety of OSM's tags is so beautifully visible – stay tuned for Jochen's talk on SOTM in a couple of weeks!) and the more specialized tools like osm-analytics, I've created taghistory which allows one to get a historical usage graph for each of OSM's tags (with daily granularity) and to compare different tags against each other:

highway=ford vs. ford=yes

The tool is currently in it's very early stage, the're many things to do and improvements to be done. It's also important to note that the historical usage of a tag is currently only defined as a the respective number (count) of OSM objects! That's similarly to the statistics produced by taginfo, this metric is subject to the some limitations, most notably the effect that one cannot directly compare the number of tags used for different linear and polygonal features such as roads, land cover, etc. because such features are typically divided up into many OSM objects of different sizes. For example, an existing road may be divided up into two pieces when a new turn restrictions is added, resulting in that the count of each of the tags used on the road (even obsolete ones) is increased by one in the OSM database. That means that one needs to pay close attention when comparing tags that are typically used on such features, even when comparing subtags that are typically used on the same kind of parent object (e.g. different values of the highway tag).

That being said, have lot's of fun while digging into the depths of OSM tags' history. What's your favourite tag? I find the created_by graph quite interesting:

history of the usage of the created_by tag

My Ambitious South Philly Mapping Journey

Posted by WesWeaver on 31 August 2016 in English (English)

Philly Needs some Work

Let it be known...

...that about two weeks ago I decided to undertake an epic journey to more fully map my city of Philadelphia. I am starting by randomly mapping around South Philly. So far I've partially completed East Passyunk to Washington and parts moving into Point Breeze. I know this will probably take a year(s). I will eventually be reporting on my progress on my blog.

I'm leaving this diary entry here as a placeholder. I should have done it when I started, but we'll just guess that I started on... August 17th, 2016? Sure, let's go with that.

Wish me luck.

Location: Hawthorne, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 19148, United States of America

Long Names of OpenStreetMap

Posted by Harry Wood on 31 August 2016 in English (English)

Check out this thing which I just got working again:

>>> Long Names of OpenStreetMap <<<

So that's elements with a name tag, where the name seems to be very long. It's a full list of the longest names in the planet (>150 chars)

I just found this old code and dusted it off. I made it originally back in May 2010 when Richard Weait ran a "Project of the week" looking at long names. I called it "namecheck" at the time, but I'm renaming it "longnames".

A crazy long name is probably a data bug to be fixed. It certainly looks like a bug when we try to render it.


But... well taking that example. Here we have a few university buildings, each with a name, which list several departments. Can we class this as wrong? I think so, yes, but I'll have to make a hand-wavy non-scientific judgement: I'd say it ceases to be a name of the building and becomes more of a "description" when it gets that long.... in this case. And maybe that's a problem for a lot of them.

But in general this is not going to be a clear case of "these are all bugs. Here's how to fix them". Because of that I think I would stop short of saying this could be a MapRoulette challenge, or a new class of bugs for KeepRight or Osmose. For the moment I'm just going to put this list out there, and suggest some careful interpretation (but feel free to suggest other actions / tagging policies in the comments)

On the other hand some of these definitely are bugs with clear fixes. I saw somebody adding a load of space characters and then repeating the name again within the name tag, presumably in attempt to control label placement on a road (Yeah no we don't do that)

The other caveat, in case it wasn't clear, the username listed there is last editing user. It's not necessarily the person who added the very long name, but it is a person who didn't fix it :-) That and the last edit timestamp are really just to see if there's any interesting patterns in the list.

My planet crunching script to find long names is here along with SQLite, CSV, and mangled OSM XML output files. I will re-run it again in a week, but the display also has a (slightly odd) feature to let you "rescan" an element after you've made a fix.

What is the longitude of the Greenwich meridian?

Posted by PlaneMad on 31 August 2016 in English (English)

Found myself at the Royal Observatory this morning (on the map), and discovered a bit of trivia since I expected to be located at longitude: 0°0 as my geography class would have made me believe. Well, its not:

Prime meridian at Greenwich. CC-by-sa ChrisO

The prime meridian established at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1851 is actually at 0°0′5.3″W, thats 102m west of the the 0°0 prime meridian used in the WGS 84 coordinate system. Why? Because the modern coordinate system was corrected to have its origin at the Earth's centre of mass.


GPS coordinate at the Greenwich meridian. CC-by-sa Jckcip

screenshot 2016-08-31 15 17 18

Location: Blackheath Vale, Blackheath, London Borough of Lewisham, London, Greater London, England, SE10, United Kingdom

Iran Administrative Boundary Import Project

Posted by Adib Yz on 31 August 2016 in English (English)

In the past few weeks I have been busy with Iran Import Project. After an unsuccessful upload attempt on August 22, 2016 which I wanted to upload the level 4 and 6 administrative boundaries of Iran but unfortunately the JOSM crashed and around 136000 untagged nodes was added to the OSM, I decided to change my approach and follow the OSM import guideline. I will update this post and let you know about my progress in this project.

The “Middle-Class ‘Paranoid Guy’”:— Tracked & Mapped

Posted by alexkemp on 30 August 2016 in English (English)

My very first Diary entry concerned paranoia within the English Middle-Class, and a July entry documented a slow pursuit by such a guy up a steep hill. There have been many others, always a pain but undocumented, and the “Middle-Class ‘Paranoid Guy’” (MPG) has therefore become a stock item for me. However, I've now discovered how to teach others to discover his lair (read on)...

take care

Yesterday's (Monday, 29 August 2016) MPG was dislodged from his lair in a bungalow in The Mount, a Neighbourhood Watch area near the top of Marshall Hill. Now, the opening sentence of this paragraph has actually just given you some important clues; one or more of the following will make it likely that a MPG is around:—

  1. A street with a pretentious name
  2. A detached/semi-detached house or (best of all) a bungalow
    (these men—they are almost always men—are normally retired) (like me)
  3. Their street has a Neighbourhood Watch and they are active within it

You will need Google StreetView to complete your identification of this irritating pest. If you bring up The Mount in StreetView (the other MPG lived on Highfield Drive) and cause the ‘blue streak’ which identifies streets with StreetView images, then you will find empty lines outside the lair of each MPG (Google will not let you see the StreetView images there, as someone has applied to have them denied). Aha! The sign of the MPG!

I've only looked for this twice, and spotted it on both occasions. 3 times will make it certain.

Location: Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

PostGIS script to calculate total road length per highway type + lanes info, maxpseed attributes, etc

Posted by baditaflorin on 30 August 2016 in English (English)

Hello dear OSM community.

It was been a while since i posted in the diary.

I had made a new script that i had put in the OSM postGIS scripts repo

You can find it in the statistics folder, under the name highway_length_per_type_different_attr.sql

How can you do the same for your country or region ?

First, download and run the (linux) or the scope.bat (win) utility that you will use to load the file into postGIS.

After you load the file in postGIS, you just have to connect to the database either in PgAdmin or via Qgis Dbmanager and copy and paste the code.

It took 20 seconds to generate this result for the map of Romania (~150 MB pbf file)


Please help me with ideas of what other scripts would there be interesting for you. Thanks and see you at SOTM in 3 weeks

# OSM Data Analytics ## Sandalpur Village

Posted by Saikat Maiti on 30 August 2016 in English (English)

I am doing mapping in osm science 2015 and I started doing mapping of my village and surrounding areas. It is a great experience to see my village on map. Here we can see the temporal changes from 2015 to present for buildings and roads.

Location: Uttar Pada, Sandalpur, Purba Medinipur, West Bengal, 721632, India

Looking, but not Seeing

Posted by alexkemp on 30 August 2016 in English (English)

I do not know quite how I managed not to see these the last time I passed the tennis courts close to Huckerbys Field, but I didn't:—

missing masts

It was 27 July 2016 and I made a Diary Entry. My walk was along the identical path, just in the opposite direction. Well, whatever; they will be up on the map shortly.

Location: Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

TIGER Review

Posted by mtc on 29 August 2016 in English (English)

My favorite part of OSM is fixing the TIGER data, as I previously mentioned. I am getting much more efficient, and I am even exploring areas further away from my home location. Unfortunately, the one part of my process that has let me down is my smartphone device. I am surprised by this, but I think it shows focus has moved away from TIGER review, in this time of the ubiquitous smartphone.

When I am on the ground checking road names and intersections, it is hugely helpful to check my screen for OSM data. It has replaced all the pen and paper requirements. But the one thing that I cannot see is whether the tiger_reviewed=no tag is present. The lack of this information has had me checking streets where I had already checked previously.

There is a nice web service run by the folks at ITO World, which shows the TIGER review status of all the roads, but this information is not updated often. It is also not available offline. In saying this, it occurs to me that I can take a screenshot of the ITO World website map, save it to my smartphone, then reference it in the field.

chalet gyumri

Posted by Chalet Gyumri on 29 August 2016 in English (English)


Location: Movses Khorenatsi Street, Gyumri, Shirak, 3126, Armenia

Post box

Posted by Gazgez on 29 August 2016 in English (English)

Need to tidy up some post boxes (ref, type, operator): Tag:amenity=post_box. Must make a note to check the wiki earlier!

House of Dreams

Posted by alexkemp on 28 August 2016 in English (English)

This is a small meditation upon the fragility & fleeting nature of life and an encouragement, from one who is becoming old, to fix your gaze upon what you can be & never to stop.

house of dreams

I found a couple of houses on my last survey that appeared to be abandoned. The one above was particularly poignant because of it's 2nd floor portico; I could imagine the owners and their guests in days past, standing with cool drinks on hot, balmy summer evenings, gazing across the vista of the fields of Marshall Hill as it fell away below them (Marshall Hill is one of the taller hills in Nottingham, and the houses that now cloak the hill are worth many millions of £ GBP). Today, the house is unloved & ill-kept, hedges, bushes and trees growing to the skies and hiding the house from view most of the time.

So how does such a fine house end up alone & unloved? I know nothing of this house, but did discover the story of a large area of Brownfield land near Porchester Road. It was prime development land, but the person that owned it was now without family & ensconced within a Residential Home for those with dementia. My father had vascular dementia following a heart attack so I know that well. The typical lifetime for someone resident within a Home is 2 years, but it also may be 2 decades. In the meantime, if they have no-one else their property rots. It seems to be a common issue, if my experience across the last 5 months is anything to go by.

I'm sorry that this turns out a touch morbid, but it does seem that in mapping all human life is there.

Location: Thorneywood, Sneinton, Nottingham, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom


Posted by Jyamyang Choden on 28 August 2016 in English (English)

So, Motihang area in Thimphu is quite warm during day and there are lots of dogs ( both stray and pet) due to lots of building and suburbs. So my tracks started from the Motithang School.

Location: 27.396, -180.000

English Eccentricity

Posted by alexkemp on 27 August 2016 in English (English)

I say: let's celebrate the eccentricity that lies at the heart of the English character.

flowerpot man

This is the Flowerpot Man on the roof that I spoke of in my earlier Diary entry. I was worried about rain then, but it was spotting all day today (and raining hard by tea-time) so why worry today? However, it turned out that the householder valued his privacy, had a lock on the gate & no bell. I needed to get higher to get a good photo & could not (or at least, not without breaking in). My cheap smartphone has a decent camera but only a digital zoom (which I did not use), so the man is very small.

The next picture has another of my favourites, which is Gargoyles, in Marshall Hill Drive.


The Ecclesiastical Boundary runs down Marshall Hill Drive, up Simkin Avenue (the next street on the other side of the table in the road) then up Donkey Step (which is just to the right of the lamppost and which, to my mind, that closest Gargoyle appears to be looking at). Here is another view of the same 3 gargoyles from the other side:


One curiosity is that Marshall Hill is no longer on the map, and only on the old Bartholomew map; I'm looking for a way to add it, although I'm waiting first to see if any of the locals remember it, or use it, any more.

Location: Thorneywood, Sneinton, Nottingham, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Sarah Mildred Long Bridge Closed permanently (ME/NH)

Posted by Bill Ricker on 27 August 2016 in English (English)

(copy of post to talk-us)

Breaking news - pardon the pun -

The lift bridge on US 1 Bypass between Portsmouth NH & Kittery ME is stuck in the up position. Permanently.

It initially stuck "down", but they managed to get it up one last time for a ship that wanted to exit port, by some expedient, but that killed it. It was scheduled to close permanently, to be scrapped, in just 10 weeks (November, at end of tourist season), with the under-construction parallel replacement-span to bear the same name due to open Spring 2017.

NHDOT & MeDOT considered fixing it one last time but after checking if the jam, a problem they're rather too familiar with, was a hard or easy jam, the cost for the short remaining life was deemed excessive.

Reference MDOT SML

After waiting a day for a local to do so (after official declaration that permanent closure was effective immediately), I have applied change-set 41726297 to mark the bridge's 3 ways -

  • access=no foot=official bicycle=no
  • note=CLOSED - mid section of bridge is a lifted roadway stuck in up position 2016-08-22. Permanently closed 10 weeks early, will not reopen. new bridge due to open spring 2017.
  • (except: foot=no, level=4 on center span stuck in UP position; if you're official enough to get up there, you don't need OSM to find it! )

For the under-deck​ rail-crossing Way 150771571, v11 I only gave it the same 'note' above, it didn't have access= routing tags, it's rail (and for special federal trains only these days i hear).

I have also added map notes, one closed, referencing the above change-set on existing center span, and one open, at approximate offset of the new span, referencing the MDOT project page as a TBD next spring.

I'm open to constructive criticism on better tagging ... or fix it and share why ; e.g.,

  • Should we split the nodes where ways at level=2 joins level=4 ? I could argue that ...
  • Maybe splitting the rail way at the lift towers; if so, its center span would be level=3, below center lift level=4, above the approach span highway at level=2
  • I considered either foot=no or access=official for the approaches. Having seen routing try to jump from way to way if close enough, i decided foot=official was fair. (Knowing as I did someone who died in an ambulance when this bridge was up, i don't want to route anyone that way accidentally ! Never again.)

I note the retractable section of railroad deck that allowed low boats to pass one of the side spans was never mapped. Neat feature.

( Lest I be accused of strictly armchair mapping, as a once-and-future Maine-iac, I know that bridge well by its old official name, "Interstate Bridge" which is ironic as it was never an Interstate System bridge officially though it used to connect two I-95 segments. Originally was 3 rather narrow lanes ... was hell with trailer mirrors mounted in 1970s! I was planning on making extensive use of it in just a couple weeks, while dragging the GPS around the harbor defenses of Portsmouth harbor. I'll be reloading the Garmin's NewEngland card after this change-set percolates through ! I hope to add my Maine retirement home to the map in a year or three, but first we need to build it ... )

Location: Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, Portsmouth, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States of America

Happy to Meet You

Posted by alexkemp on 26 August 2016 in English (English)

I feel like this myself at times...

To see you nice...

This was the greeting that met you on coming through the side-entrance at a bungalow on Hallam Road but was not the best I saw yesterday (Thursday afternoon, 25 August). That was a Flowerpot man on top of a house roof in Pilkington Road (no, really). However, I was worried about the delay that obtaining agreement to photograph it might take. It had been pouring down with rain earlier on & I was worried about further rain soon (it never happened). I'm going back to the house another day, so maybe will be able to feature it soonish.

Location: Porchester Gardens, Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Street length

Posted by NathanO on 26 August 2016 in English (English)

Oak Circle at Quail Hill Drive. Oak Circle is very short, not even 1/10 mile long. You show it going all the way back to a friends house on his privet property.

Location: Quail Hill Drive, Anhalt, Comal County, Texas, 78070, United States of America
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