Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

Holistic/esoteric centers

Posted by nandachuva on 30 January 2015 in English (English)

(Portuguese below)

There are a few places I've come across that are basically centers for the practice and teaching of alternative/holistic medicine and esoteric philosophies like astrology, numerology, dowsing, etc. The best key I've found to describe them was healthcare=alternative but I'm not sure it would fit them correctly since those spaces are not exclusively for the practice of alternative medicine - many of these places actually go much further than that, having classes on stuff like cartomancy, yoga, vegan cuisine, physiognomy, etc. Besides, the healthcare key is still a proposal. I've also thought about tagging them as amenity=place of worship since some of them have close relations to religious practices, but they aren't exclusively focused on that either.

So, any thoughts on how to tag them correctly?

Há alguns lugares que são basicamente centros para a prática e o ensino de medicina alternativa/holística e filosofias esotéricas como astrologia, numerologia, radiestesia, etc. A melhor key que encontrei para descrevê-los foi healthcare=alternative, mas não tenho certeza de que ela seria correta porque esses espaços não são exclusivamente pra medicina alternativa - muitos deles vão muito além disso, tendo cursos em assuntos como cartomancia, yoga, culinária vegana, fisiognomia, etc. Além disso, a key healthcare ainda é apenas uma proposta. Também pensei em taggeá-los como amenity=place of worship porque muitos tem relações com práticas religiosas, mas eles não são exclusivamente focados nisso.

Alguma ideia sobre como taggear esse tipo de local corretamente?

Using Benchmarks for Imagery Offsets

Posted by DougPeterson on 29 January 2015 in English (English)

I came to the conclusion recently that I needed to start understanding and being concerned about imagery offset. This started when Bing imagery changed and I began to notice that buildings had shifted. I also began to use other imagery such as USGS Large Scale Imagery, which also did not necessarily align with Bing imagery.

Having decided to learn about imagery offset and use it I came to discover there had been no offsets created in the areas I typically mapped. Now I needed to understand how to create offsets.

I had read discussions of using GPS traces to establish an offset based on roads. In looking at the traces that were being downloaded within JOSM those traces seemed less than ideal. This was due to randomness of lanes driven in, possibly poor sampling resolution, as well as possibly poor GPS accuracy or bounce. It was going to take a larger sample to reduce that. So I started recording and uploading traces myself.

The slowness of creating a decent sample caused me to think about how to do this quicker. I considered finding a fixed and visible feature and doing some longer GPS averages on those sites over a number of days. It then occurred to me I should just find some benchmarks or survey marks as the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) already provides the coordinates for those.

I was familiar with benchmarks from the geocaching I do. It is a subtype of geocaching, at least in the U.S. In doing a little more searching on offsets I found this was a suggested approach so I proceeded on with it. I thought I would document and share my techniques to the extent they may help someone else or could be improved by someone else's suggestions.

The benchmark datasheets that are posted on are older. The coordinates are not the full resolution that is available. Not all benchmarks are on It was just what had been recorded at the time of the one and only import. So I start my search with the National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer. I can search an area of interest and look at the datasheets for benchmarks of interest.

The first step is selecting suitable benchmarks. Some benchmarks are large structures, like water towers or broadcast towers. Although there may have been a precisely measured point on the structure, it is generally not clear where that is and it would likely be obscured by the vertical structure.

There are benchmarks that are in grass and usually easy to find in person, particularly when accompanied by a witness post. However, they are not easily seen from satellite unless the concrete or dirt around them prevents grass from overgrowing the benchmark.

I have had the most success with benchmarks that are in sidewalks. These are often at a road intersections and in an intersection of sidewalks as well. The contrast of a dark and roughly eight inch benchmark cover against a lighter sidewalk makes for relatively reliable spotting. Even so, sometimes shadows or other things reduce the contrast such that the cover is not seen.

One thing that has helped me in improving the reliability of the benchmark placement is reviewing photos of the benchmark area. I have visited a number personally and have photos that I took. Others I have been able to verify position for by reviewing photos of the benchmark posted on In one case, the spot on the satellite imagery I thought was the benchmark turned out not to be.

In then looking at the datasheets it is important to look at the type of coordinates that are available. Typically, I have found the coordinates to be described as one of those below.

  • "The horizontal coordinates were established by GPS observations and adjusted by the National Geodetic Survey." These are what I have chosen to limit my efforts to. I use the full coordinates listed to create a survey_mark in OSM to then use to create an imagery offset.
  • "The horizontal coordinates were established by classical geodetic methods and adjusted by the National Geodetic Survey." Classical geodetic methods are generally speaking triangulation measurements. I do not know what increased level accuracy came with any adjustments made by NGS. As such, I have chosen not to use these.
  • "The horizontal coordinates were scaled from a topographic map and have an estimated accuracy of +/- 6 seconds." These are not suitable for offset purposes. That 6 seconds can be over 600 feet or 180 meters off. In practice, I have found the measurements to often be 30-60 feet off.

The NGS datasheets describe the physical characteristics and location of the benchmark which may aid in finding it on satellite imagery. The PID listed in the datasheet can be used to look up the benchmark on For any survey_marks I have created in OSM I have included the PID and Designation names. I have also included the GPS coordinates in a note for future reference. Coordinates do get updated by the NGS.

I have found it a good idea to read the entire description. The benchmark may be gone. This would be noted in Station Recovery information at the bottom as can be seen in this datasheet where I reported one missing.

Mapillary in iD

Posted by Polyglot on 29 January 2015 in English (English)

I went totally out of my comfort zone today. I was reviewing some pictures I had submitted to Mapillary and found one, I wanted to add right away to OSM. So I tried the link to edit it with iD. The first thing that's odd, is that the zoom level is far out and the location of the object is way off. (It ends up all the way to the right, under the vertical button bar). I'd have expected it to appear centered, zoom level 21.

The next thing that's annoying, is that the Mapillary layer is not switched on automatically, so I need to know iD to know where to go to switch it on. That's not entirely intuitive.

Anyway, time to try and create a Mapillary plugin for JOSM.

Then I wanted to upload what I just added. But I couldn't figure out how to add tags to the changeset. In version 2 I managed to add a source, but that ended up on the object. Now this scrawny tree already has 3 versions and none of those changesets have the source information I wanted to add to it.


Location: Blauwput, Kessel-Lo, Leuven, Flemish Brabant, Flanders, 3010, Belgium

Achievement made possible by Openstreetmap - Wikidata - Wikipedia - Wikivoyage

Posted by Polyglot on 29 January 2015 in English (English)

During the spring and summer of 2014, I discovered some interesting places in the forest south of Leuven. My interest was peeked by some wooden statues/carvings made from dead trees. I had seen some of them before, but I hadn't really been paying attention, and they didn't register as a 'collection' until then.

When I did finally investigate further, it lead to the creation of an Article about Ad Wouters on Wikipedia. Of course, I needed to illustrate that with a map, so I created one with Maperitive:

This map is unique in that it combines information about the public transport stops and routes (light blue/pink) and the walking node network (red/orange) and, of course OSM data, together with the route I was describing (blue). Only 10 years ago it would have been impossible to even consider attempting to create such a work.

Subsequently I discovered Wikivoyage:

Ad's Path on Wikivoyage

On Wikivoyage they have a widget, which displays Openstreetmap data. One can switch layers and add overlays, allowing to show the cycle and the walking node network as well, but more importantly one can mention POIs in the text and have them appear on that dynamic map

It took some learning and stumbling. Each of these projects has their own rules and intricacies, which are completely different from OSM, but they are also different among what I consider a family of projects and even from one language version to another. At times they almost drove me mad, but now I'm quite happy with the results. I'm not sure if I'll attempt something similar again any time soon though. Mapping for OSM has its own rewards.

Location: Witte bomendreef, Oud-Heverlee, Leuven, Flemish Brabant, Flanders, 3050, Belgium

Learning. Adding Information!

Posted by MannequinBaby on 28 January 2015 in English (English)

Hi everyone, I have 42 edits. I'm working in San Luis Obispo County and Napa. (All in California.) If you're in the area, add me as a friend. Maybe we can make some cool map stuff happen. Also feel free to contact me about any weird additions or mistakes. I'm still new to this.

West Lothian is 100% complete!

Posted by Hobgoblin on 28 January 2015 in English (English)

At the weekend I visited the last street in West Lothian that wasn't on OpenStreetMap. There are many quality control applications or websites where you can check for errors in the OpenStreetMap data. In the UK, ITO have a site where they use the open data from the Ordnance Survey to show the discrepancies. Usually these are because of new residential streets where new houses have been built. This is what it showed for my missing street.

The building work was not quite complete, but most of the houses were finished and occupied. One crucial item that has still to be installed is the sign to tell you the name of the street. As I walked around the street with my GPS, I noticed the postman was just starting his deliveries here. I asked him if it was “Plessey Terrace” and he confirmed that it was, admitting “it's my first time here, too”.

It may take a few days for the ITO site to show my addition, but then it will be at 100% (well, at least for a while).

I have also been experimenting with Mapillary. It is a crowd-sourced version of Google's Streetview and you can use the images for mapping, unlike Google's which are copyright. I bought a windscreen mount for my iPhone so that I could use it for navigation, but it works well for capturing images (after I took a hacksaw to the corner that was blocking the camera). It was a bright sunny morning with a frost on the ground, so I made sure I was driving with the sun behind me and captured the new street here.

This looks like it could be a useful mapping tool in the future.

Fixing the rural US

Posted by Richard on 28 January 2015 in English (English)

Folks, I've made an exciting discovery. I've stumbled across a country on the map which has 46 million inhabitants but is barely mapped. There appears to have been an import several years ago of a poor-quality dataset, and since then it's languished untouched. There's no indigenous mapping community. Can we help this poor beleaguered country to get a decent map?

Ok, you may have figured where I'm talking about. It's the rural US: 72% of the landmass, 15% of the population. And it needs your help.

The problem

For the past couple of months I've been using idle moments to address a particular, and very widespread issue in OSM's coverage of the rural US - the highway=residential problem.

TIGER data, which forms the bedrock of OSM data in the US, classes roads by CFCC - 'Census Feature Class Code'. By far the most prevalent is A41 - "Local, neighborhood, and rural road, city street, unseparated" - and the TIGER import translated this to highway=residential. This was a good fit in urban areas but covers a multitude of sins in rural areas - everything from good, fast state highways to rutted forest tracks or worse.

The effect is that our map of the rural US shows pretty much everything, save the biggest roads, as a residential road. Tarmac road with sweeping curves and a painted centreline? highway=residential. Gravel road? highway=residential. Forest track? highway=residential. Vague two-foot clearing through the woods where someone perhaps rode 50 years ago? highway=residential. Ploughed field? Etc, etc.

Rural crossroads

This is a typical example from an agricultural area. A good-quality road with centreline, running east-west: a smaller access road, running north: and nothing at all running south. In OSM, this is mapped as a crossroads with highway=residential roads in all four directions. Having the edge of a ploughed field marked as highway=residential doesn't make for a great map, nor does it make for good routing results. "In 100m, turn left." "BUT THAT'S A FRICKING FIELD YOU ACCURSED MACHINE." Sigh.

Rural crossroads

But if you really want some fun, find a less cultivated area - this forest, for example. Look at all those lovely residential roads, tagged exactly the same as a paved city street. Except none of these are paved. A few might be gravel. Many don't really appear to exist at all.

Most of this remains unchanged. In some areas a dedicated user has cleared it up and there've been a few energetic nationwide editors, but it's a massive job. It's pretty much endemic - even just a few miles from San Francisco, a hotbed of OSM activity, you'll find examples.

Perhaps we shouldn't have imported TIGER in these rural areas, but just let the map grow at its own pace. That way, the important roads would have been surveyed, traced, or imported one-by-one, and the thickets of near-impenetrable tracks would probably have never made it in. But we are where we are, and though I'm generally sceptical of "armchairing" far-flung data, we have a big heap of flat-out wrong data and no other strategy to deal with it.

A framework for fixup

So I've been fixing up roughly along these lines, though obviously adjusting for local sensitivities and network considerations:

  • highway=tertiary - paved 2-lane road with painted centreline
  • highway=unclassified - other paved road
  • highway=unclassified, surface=unpaved - unpaved road (at least a car's width, consistent surface)
  • highway=track - unpaved, often doubletrack/singletrack
  • highway=service - access to private house or farm
  • (delete entirely - no trace of trail/road)

Most of this is fixable from imagery. There are also some good datasets: Arnold, Forest Service data, various state data, etc.

In forests 90% of highway=residential should really be tracks. In the plains, the majority is either track or unpaved road, often in grids, but with the occasional paved through route. In Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and eastwards you start to see more paved roads.

Personally, my main priority has been to identify and retag paved through routes. Often these can be identified by squinting at the map: a river bridge is a tell-tale indicator, or a road with wide curves, or one linking settlements. Sometimes you just need to look at the aerial imagery and pan around. Of course, it's not just the highway tagging that needs fixing - ref tags and geometries would benefit from attention, too - but you can't do everything, so my chosen challenge has been to get the tagging sane.

I just use plain vanilla Potlatch 2 for fixup, accelerated by assigning common tags to function keys. One day it'd be nice to build something MapRoulette-like to tackle the issue, a bit like HotOrNot (TrackOrCack? HighwayOrLieway? RoadOrFOAD?). But for now a normal editor does fine.

So if you're sitting in your armchair with an itchy OSM finger, resist the temptation to normalise some tags or trace some buildings or whatever else you might usually do. Come and fix up the rural US.

New Telenav Mapping Project: Dual Carriageways

Posted by mvexel on 27 January 2015 in English (English)

Dual carriageways, divided highways... Whatever you call them, this is what they look like:

dual carriageway Image: Wikipedia

In OSM however, they are often mapped like this:

single mapped Screenshot from JOSM, showing Bing imagery

This is surely better than nothing, but what we really want to see is an accurate representation of the road as it is in reality. Not only because we're perfectionistic OSM mappers :) but also because there are practical implications to this simplified representation.

Here is an obvious example. Say you need to be at the place by the pink arrow, and you're coming from the southeast there:

confusion Annotated screenshot from JOSM, showing Bing imagery

If this road were mapped as a single way, any navigation app would tell you to just turn left, which is clearly not an option. Also, turning on to the main road, navigation could tell you to turn left which is equally impossible.

There are still a lot of roads in the United States that are mapped as single ways but are in reality divided highways. Here at Telenav, where we use OSM for the Scout navigation app, we want all these roads to be properly mapped as dual ways. This is pretty tedious work (perhaps I will spend a separate diary entry on some of the mappy-grappy details) which is probably why it is not done in the first place, so our internal editing team has taken this on themselves.

fixme-memphis Plenty of fixme=dual carriageway around Memphis, Tenn. (Overpass Turbo). Map ©OpenStreetMap contributors

We don't use any magic to identify the candidate ways. We just search the OSM database for fixme tags that have a value of dual carrigeway or some variation thereof. This gave us a total of around 6,000 ways to look at. Prioritizing trunk and primary, we were able to limit this to around 1,500 ways to look at for now.

We expect to complete this work by mid-February, and once we do, anyone using OSM data for navigation will see much improved results for the affected areas!

As always, if you encounter our work on this project in your area, please share your feedback, using the great new changeset comment feature for example. Or just drop me a line!


Posted by Mpatswe Francis on 27 January 2015 in English (English)

i love mapping

Location: Niue

Firefox 35 update

Posted by Amaroussi on 26 January 2015 in English (English)

If you have version 35.0 of Firefox for Mac, kindly please update the browser to version 35.0.1 to resolve the glitchy-looking rendering issues when you drag the map on OpenStreetMap (Bug entry on Bugzilla).

Other operating systems should update anyway to keep ahead of any vulnerabilities.


First Contribution to HOT - Iraq Missing Maps

Posted by DougPeterson on 26 January 2015 in English (English)

I made my first contributions to HOT yesterday. It took me longer to find a project felt I could make good or confident updates to as it did to make the updates. Some of the Africa projects seemed a bit daunting to start with in trying. The updates I made were to #836 - Missing Maps: Displaced communities, Iraq (east).

Although I could reasonably see the roads, I was still challenged in how to classify them. I started with what I thought was a primary and then proceeded down from there. I found inconsistent classification elsewhere in the project so that was not a guidance. I did think that at least some of the roads I classified were too high, for example, the secondary probably should have been tertiary and the tertiary should have been a mix of unclassified or track.

I did find some United Nations Assistance Mission maps housed on the European Country of Origin Information Network site. There were enough different maps for me to confirm that the primary road I had identified would best be still considered that way. However, the rest of the roads I added should probably be demoted, as I was wondering.

Whether these maps are permissible to trace, I will still need to find out. [Update: assume no] I am not sure there is any road tracing value to these. However, some could provide value in terms of waterways. I see a lot of dry stream and river beds on the satellite images. I cannot tell if any water ever flows in them.

08.2002 - UN Assistance Mission for Iraq: Map of the Kalar district

22.07.2003 - UN Assistance Mission for Iraq: Map of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate

2003 - UN Assistance Mission for Iraq: Road map of the Diyala governorate

2003 - UN Assistance Mission for Iraq: Road map of the north Diyala governorate

Update: Based on the comment and a little searching it seems like the Highway Tag Africa provides closer guidance than the standard Highway tag usage.

Editing of our travels in Iran completed

Posted by Jan van Bekkum on 25 January 2015 in English (English)

Editing of our travels from Turkey to Bandar Lengeh, the port to the U.A.E., was completed.

Translation QA tool helping iD Editor translators - status

Posted by ImreSamu on 25 January 2015 in English (English)

I am working on a Translation QA tool helping iD Editor translators.

some fresh reports:

List of duplicated names - for every languages: ( from the latest Transifex data )

iD Translation Status

More reports ( with generated XLS files )

If you want to help translating iD Editor :

January 24 2015

Posted by ladyink1313 on 25 January 2015 in English (English)

finally updating all maps and trying to connect website

It's elegant they said. It will be eaiser to change street names they said.

Posted by AndiG88 on 24 January 2015 in English (English)

AssociatedStreet Relation...

AssociatedStreet Relation Tagging fail

Re:The order/thinking/philosphy/system of OSM tags;- Consistency

Posted by Warin61 on 24 January 2015 in English (English)


What are 'we' tagging'? And Why are 'we' tagging it?

My preference it to tag what is seen ... not what is consumed, not what is done. An example: There looks to be some angst over the new tag 'man_made=tap' tag. And that looks to come from the supporters of the tag 'amenity=drinking_water' humm ..

That tag 'amenity=drinking_water' .. does not sit well with me. I agree it needs to be tagged, but is this the best way? It is not consistent with other tags .. such as;

amenity=pub .. should this then be amenity=beer_drinking or amenity=beer?

amenity=restaurant .. should this then be amenity=eating or amenity=food?

My thoughts are that 'amenity-drinking_water' should become a tap, a blubber, a fountain .. what is seen. Why is this better? Consistency with other tags. And then .. well for me I like to know if I can fill my water bottle from it without making a mess (tap and maybe a fountain). Or I like to know if I can drink from it without needing a cup/water bottle (bubbler).

----------------- next time - logical grouping of things?

Japan, why are you so beautiful?

Posted by lxbarth on 22 January 2015 in English (English)

The OpenStreetMap contributions in Japan from 2007 to 2014 show a fascinating pattern. Why do you think they look this way?

OpenStreetMap contributions in Japan from 2007 to 2014 by Eric Fischer. 2007: blue, 2008: purple, 2010: red, 2012: orange, 2014: yellow.

Description of navigation tools for overlanders on our website

Posted by Jan van Bekkum on 21 January 2015 in English (English)

A description of useful tools for overlanders was put on our website:

Action started to promote OSM uploading with overlanders

Posted by Jan van Bekkum on 21 January 2015 in English (English)

An action was started to promote uploading of tracks and POIs by overlanders as well as to extend the definition of campings as needed by overlanders. See for the discussion

Learn-a-tag: driving_side=left/right

Posted by jgpacker on 20 January 2015 in English (English)

In some rare streets, the driving side of the street can be inverted (usually to help the flow of traffic of adjacent streets). For example, in a country where right is the normal driving side, there may be some exceptional streets where left is the driving side.

This kind of exception can be mapped in OSM with the tag driving_side=left/right. Left-hand traffic sign

Defines which side of the road vehicles must legally use.

Cheers, John

Older Entries | Newer Entries