Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

Mawne River Forest Reserve

Posted by Prof Müller J on 22 July 2016 in English (English)

Why Search and Rescue Organizations Must Map Out Cellular Phone Towers in OpenStreetMap

Posted by HermannstadtGeographer on 21 July 2016 in English (English)

You are alone and you are in the middle of nowhere – you simply have no clue about what has happened to you in the last few days and you do not know where to go. Fortunately you have your smartphone with you. Even better, you have a offline map based on OpenStreetMap but even so – you are so deep in the woods that the nearest road is dozens of miles away from you. You try to call 911 but there is no signal on your phone.

How can you call 911 if you do not even know where is the nearest cell phone tower? It might seem logical to head out to the nearest road on the map but these forestry roads may not even be usable as some of them are designed to be used temporarily for logging purposes. On the other hand research stations and remote tourist cabins may be nearby and there lies the opportunity to find a cell phone antenna nearby. Needless to say is the fact that your abductor might be following you and regardless of this fact – you need to call 911 as fast as possible.

In a lot of missing persons cases victims who are able to call 911 have a much better chance of being rescued because when they dial 911 their phone can easily get tracked for its location. This is of huge help for search and rescue people as they can narrow the area of search. Moreover, if you have a criminal or abductor that is on your trail it is not wise to head out for the nearest road as he may be waiting for you exactly on that road.

It is far wiser to run away towards the nearest cell phone tower because these towers have ranges that can span for miles (depending on the topography) and even if there are dozens of criminals chasing you when you reach the relative safety area which is the mile wide perimeter in the immediate vicinity of the cell phone tower the chance of being spotted diminishes considerably. More often than not, authorities confuse cases of missing tourists with abduction cases and your primary duty is to take care of yourself and your family.

I wrote this article due to the fact that there are a lot of people that get lost in wooded areas and they are often abducted. Police may eventually find their cell phone and personal belongings but some victims are never found. In some cases police end up finding a phone with 911 dialed but there is a problem – there was no signal in the area and the victim was never found. A considerable number of victims are able to dial 911 yet even so it is often too late. Criminals love to choose victims who are not familiar with the local geography and they love to choose areas where there is no cell phone coverage. A good example of an area that has this element of abduction and lack of cell phone coverage is the highway of tears in British Columbia, Canada. In any case, I have not examined cases from the highway of tears but I believe that there are many lives that can be saved by the OpenStreetMap community if it would ever decide to engage in an extensive mapping effort of this area.

Given the fact that a lot of people go missing in the woods and are found miles away from civilization it would be wise if the OpenStreetMap community would view things from the perspective of the abduction victim. It is absolutely fantastic that we can go online and download open source maps that do not require an internet connection but it would be a lot wiser if we would map the cell phone towers that are positioned in the most remote areas of our planet.

I will not go into the horrific details that many abduction victims have to withstand but I would like to emphasize the fact that we need to use maps as tools that can save lives. We have done this for a long time already but our current technology is not advanced enough to track absolutely anything on the planet. Moreover, what can one do if a hacker has access to personal details and uses MSISDN pinging in order to track down the victim and get ahead of the search and rescue people? In some cases, the evidence may even suggest the fact that abductors and hackers work together in order to track down their victims. There is one particular case that I do not want to ignore in this article and that is the case of Megumi Yamamoto.

                                        The Bizarre Case of Megumi Yamamoto 

The case of Megumi Yamamoto is so strange and if you consider the fact that there are thousands of cases just like hers you will understand why we need to put more emphasis on safety when we design our maps. I would like to explain her case because her particular case is extremely strange and it goes to prove again that it is always wise to have smart solutions in order to be safe.

The case of Megumi Yamamoto is so horrific that it clearly proves that some of the forces of evil are so weird that they are literally out of this planet. I encourage all of you to study the case of her dissapearance and you should also study a lot more cases related to missing people. You will eventually realize that by mapping out our cell phone towers, we can at least bring in a small contribution that can save thousands of lives.

Megumi Yamamoto was an extremely bright 26 year old PhD student that came on a scholarship to study nanotechnology at New Mexico University. The case of her death is just one of the dozens of deaths of extremely bright students and the technical details of her disappearance are absolutely remarkable. Megumi was out hiking and she got separated from her boyfriend in the Lake Katherine area of Pecos Wilderness Area.

A private investigator has stated that she has called 911 for 9 times and when she called the 10th time her number was finally routed to the real emergency line because when you dial 911 there is also a non emergency line available. It is also interesting to point out the fact that cell phone triangulation has been introduced for well over a year and Greg Solano who was the Santa Fe County Sheriff of the time has stated that the incident of cell phone routing in the case of Megumi was strange to say the least. For some bizarre reason her number continued to get routed to the non emergency line. This is a fact that can simply not be explain in logical terms.

Moreover, when the helicopter had finally spotted her she was in an obvious state of shock but as soon as the helicopter took off a severe storm has started and Megumi along with the helicopter pilot have died when the helicopter has crashed off the side of a nearby mountain. During that day, the wind was so powerful that it could literally throw people in the air. Megumi was fortunate enough to get into the helicopter but unfortunate because the helicopter has crashed and she has lost her life as a result.

In any case, just imagine for a second – how can you survive alone in the woods if such a storm starts out of nowhere in the middle of the summer? How can you even call 911 if the nearest cell phone tower is 10 miles away yet you do not even know where it is and you are simply guessing your way out of the woods (not a bright thing to do considering all the evil things that are taking place in the woods, not to mention wild animals and other dangers).

The pilot of the helicopter was Andy Tingwell and he was type of guy that had a great personality when it came to search and rescue. Just before he crashed his helicopter, he was however fortunate enough to send a signal across those mountains as even search and rescue crews have a huge difficulty when it comes to sending radio signals over that type of terrain.

After this incident new laws have been passed regarding the use of helicopters in search and rescue operations. These new set of laws emphasize the fact that the victim must wait for a longer period of time until search and rescue crews are able to reach them by foot. This implies the concept of self reliance yet again and there is a clear tendency to develop tools that are meant to help the victim to be self sufficient until help arrives on foot. One great tool would be a map with the nearest shelters and communications facilities.

Finally, I would like to briefly describe another absolutely horrific case that went out in the woods and this case clearly proves that the victims have tried to call 911 and they simply had no signal in the area in which they were lost. I would like all of you to keep in mind that this case is similar to other cases and I want you to remember that it would be really wise if we would develop more mapping tools that can save lives. If nothing inspires us to develop these tools than I am absolutely sure that the cases of missing people are enough to not only inspire us to develop these great maps but also to make them popular.

                            The Horrific Story of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon 

Kris Kremes and Lisanne Froon went on a trip to Panama because they wanted to learn Spanish. Since then, nothing has emerged in regards to these two beautiful and young Dutch girls. Many speculate that they were abducted and up until now police were only able to recover part of their bones.

Police have managed to recover one of the cell phones that belonged to the girls and they have noticed that one of the girls took a picture just two hours before calling 911. The shocking fact is that one of these girls has tried to dial 911 but they were in an area where there was no signal. As shocking as it may be, these two girls were just another victim of the no signal phenomenon and it is absolutely surprising to realize that a large number of missing people that have never been found have tried to dial 911 only to realize that they were in an area where there was no signal.

A lot of experienced hikers know that it is absolutely vital to bring in a local guide when you decide to hike in another country. These two girls did not do that and they went on their own. This was not a wise decision however the fact that they have tried to dial 911 is there to testify that something went terribly wrong. Many people speculate that one of the girls must of fallen down a cliff and the other one must of tried to help her and in a surprising twist of fate, both of them must of fallen down and must of gotten injured, other people speculate that they may have been abducted and killed.

I do not like to come up with theories in regards to missing people but I would like to emphasize the fact that if these girls had a offline map with the nearest cell phone towers drawn on the map, they might of lived because all they had to do was to follow the map and head out to the nearest tower in order to dial an emergency number. However they have frantically gone away in the jungle, heading out in areas where there was no signal, only to vanish forever and this is the fact that must never be ignored by fellow cartographers. We need to design apps that can prevent such incidents and now is the time. With tools such as OpenStreetMap and OpencellID nothing can stop us from mapping out cell phone towers and thus we can save lives.

I will not go in many more details about missing people but from my experience, I believe that if people knew where was the nearest area from where they would be able to dial 911, they could of been saved. A lot of extremely smart people go missing and I believe that these people are smart enough to install a free app that is created in order to provide extra safety for them and their families.

I hope that this article will inspire developers who design maps for search and rescue organizations and for tourists as well. We need to map out our telecom towers and we need to have a clear and detailed map of the nearest life saving establishments that are there in the mountains and forests. If we fail to do so we will only witness the statistics and the growing number of missing people in our natural parks and forests.

I would like to end this article with one last advice.Whenever you go out in the wilderness, always go in pairs and you need to stay within shouting distance. You should always carry a smartphone with a offline map and you should always carry a weapon for your personal safety. Far too many people go missing each year and prevention is the best safety measure that you can have in any sort of life threatening situation.

Feedback from MSF in Chad

Posted by pedrito1414 on 21 July 2016 in English (English)

Just a quick post as I got some nice feedback from an MSF epidemiologist in Chad for everyone who took part in mapping of HOT project 2015 (Missing Maps / Hadjer Lamis).

Hi Pete,

I have gone through the maps and they are really detailed, thanks a lot! We are basically doing a nutritional survey with local surveyors that probably have never used a smartphone or GPS technology before. So these maps will really allow them to more easily locate the randomly generated GPS points corresponding to the households they need to include in the survey. Please thank on my behalf the people who have produced the maps!! I’ll let you know how it goes!

Best regards, Susana

She has also requested the mapping of three more villages, so if you have any time to help, it would be much appreciated. The new project for these villages is #2036

Homemade Mapillary Hood Mount

Posted by Skippern on 20 July 2016 in English (English)

I was challenged to find a way to mount my Garmin VIRB in such a way that it avoids the glare from the windshield, and that no part of the car is captured. After thinking hard about how to do it, I started looking for material to make it. Unfortunately the plastic and rubber I thought I needed was only sold in 10 square meter pieces, too expensive to be a reasonable solution, so I started looking at alternatives.

During fabrication

So I found a plastic and rubber tool for tile laying, and made a few cuts, so I could clamp it on the front of the hood, glued the VIRB socket mount to the plate, and drilled a few holes so that I could tie some strings to it.

Mounted on the car

I have done a small driving test (without securing strings, and without charging cable), and are satisfied with the result, and noted in lessons learned, that the securing string is necessary. The mount slowly slid out due to vibrations and gave my VIRB a flying test, luckily no traffic at the spot and I was able to stop immediately. No damages to VIRB or mount.

Driving test

Total price for the Mount: 15 BRL (~5USD)

Mapillary sequence here

Location: Vila Bela Vista, Belavista, Guarapari, Microrregião Guarapari, Greater Vitória, Mesorregião Central Espírito-Santense, Espírito Santo, Southeast Region, 29215020, Brazil

Let's map missing turn restrictions in Canada

Posted by manoharuss on 20 July 2016 in English (English)

Turn restrictions are the last missing piece in the puzzle to make OpenStreetMap ready for accurate routing. With Mapillary street photographs and their traffic sign recognition, it is easier than ever to start mapping missing restrictions onto the map.

At the data team in Mapbox, we have been experimenting with creating mapping tools to simplify such efforts and after adding over 1,200 turn restrictions in 30 US cities, we are ready to start mapping in Canada with the help of the local mapping community! Our team will focus on the following 5 cities: Ottawa, Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Calgary


How to contribute


If its your first time mapping turn restrictions, read the guide to mapping turn restrictions using Mapillary to understand different scenarios and special cases.

Use the OSM navigation map to compare traffic signages from Mapillary and the map data for potential restrictions to add. You can also review the photograph and mark the restriction as valid or invalid.

Check out our project tracker for all the details and collaborating your efforts with the Mapbox data team.

untitled2 Marking a detected no left into a oneway as redundant restriction on the OSM navigation map


More Mapillary = More detected signages that can be mapped. Check the Mapillary coverage in your city and fill in the gaps! Calgary currently has the poorest coverage amongst the 5 cities. This tutorial will help you can get started with Mapillary.

Measuring progress

We estimate it to take 1 full week to review all the detected turn restrictions in the 5 selected cities with just our team. But could finish it off sooner and add more restrictions with a wider participation. These are the current number of restrictions present that were queried using Overpass:

Canada: 12,700

  • Ottawa: 447

  • Toronto: 1,129

  • Montréal: 372

  • Vancouver: 441

  • Calgary: 64

The road ahead!

It would be amazing to have the Canadian Mapping Community to help us out in making the map of Canada more navigable and enhanced. We would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on how to make our existing workflow better. Interested folks can contribute to the Mapillary coverage in Canada which would certainly help us add quality data onto the map! Let's all join hands in making OpenStreetMap the best!

Import account

Posted by Noel_import on 20 July 2016 in English (English)

This account is solely for the purpose of imports for HOTosm.

Up-to-date open data imagery - it is available, use it!

Posted by imagico on 20 July 2016 in English (English)

Last week BushmanK wrote about the use of up-to-date open data satellite imagery for mapping in OSM and noted what i also frequently experience - that awareness and interest within the OSM community regarding the large bandwidth of up-to-date near real time open imagery that is available today is astonishingly very low. Mappers do complain that imagery in Bing and elsewhere is frequently outdated and poor quality but few are aware that newer imagery exists and is available and in contrast to Bing etc. is often truly open data.

The real problem here is that as a result of this mappers keep wasting energy and time on tracing things from images that are hopelessly outdated and at the same time often also poorly aligned. At the moment approximately 15-25 percent of the Earth land surfaces are shown in Bing and Mapbox with 15 year old imagery that is poor quality in a lot of aspects.

With this blog entry i hope to somewhat further increase awareness of this subject among mappers. I have been for quite some time making available recent imagery from open data sources for mapping in OSM. This is only a small contribution for select areas but shows that a huge body of primary data is available today and is largely unused for OSM-mapping.

Here a list of the most recent additions - you can find the full set of images currently available on the OSM images for mapping and some more details in various blog posts:

satellite image samples

Northern Greenland July 2016

Images from 2016-07-17, the most recent ones of this remote area, better detail and more up-to-date than current mapping in OSM.


Northern Ellesmere Island July 2016

Images from 2016-07-08 to 2016-07-15, recent images, partly overlapping the previous, poor and largely faulty data there in OSM based on imports.


Vostochny Cosmodrome

From 2016-06-23, showing most recent building activities.


Panama Canal

From 2016-06-07 - the new locks.


Darwin and Wolf islands, Galapagos

From 2016-03-11 - two small islands with poor coverage in other sources.


Batam, Indonesia

From 2014 to 2016, quite a few islands missing or poorly mapped in OSM just a short distance from Singapore.


All of these are prepared from open satellite data, of course the main advantage of this is you do not depend on my or others' services to make use of it. Processing raw satellite data is something you need to learn to do it but it is not that difficult in principle. You just need time and an open mind to get the necessary experience and some background in photography or color physics definitely helps. There are quite a few mappers who routinely map from custom processed Landsat images for example.

And since the remark will inevitably arise - yes, these are all lower resolution than what is necessary for tracing smaller buildings or other small scale features. That is the downside of having up-to-date open data for everywhere in the world. But as said the main target here is abolishing the 15 year old even lower resolution and much poorer quality imagery. A nice secondary use is supplementing older high resolution data with information on recent changes like in case of the Vostochny Cosmodrome and the Panama Canal.

Cameroon Manyu Division

Posted by Prof Müller J on 20 July 2016 in English (English)

I am mapping the remote area of the Bitieku clan in Manyu division, South-West Province of Cameroon (on the border to North-West Province). Data is based on Mapbox Satellite and own GPS tracks.

Location: Ayukaba, Mamfe, Manyu, Southwest, Cameroon

1 million buildings in Los Angeles

Posted by manings on 19 July 2016 in English (English)

Part of our series of diaries sharing experiences on the ongoing LA Building Import into OpenStreetMap. Last month, we talked about the tools. Today, it's all about the data.

Just last week, we've hit 1.1 million buildings imported in LA City!
A great milestone as we are in the final stretch of import, validation and clean-up for LA City. Here's a few map-shots on what happened in the last couple of months.

What happened?

We made sure that the import process followed the community accepted guidelines. Instead of importing everything with scripts/bots, we used the Tasking Manager to allow volunteers to take part. We divided LA City into four TM projects and organized mapathons within LA City to kick start the process. The animation below shows the weekly progress starting from Southside all the way to SF Valley. Large chunks of buildings were added during and after every mapathon.

time Weekly progress, March - July 2016.

We asked volunteers to use a dedicated account and over 100 usernames participated. You can see this checkerboard pattern when you color the buildings by username/id.

user Colored by user ID, > 100 usernames.

Before the import, a lot of buildings already exist. In recognition and respect to the mappers before us, we made sure that existing buildings were properly merged/conflated (in JOSM, we use the Replace Geometry tool). This is a tedious process but this is how it should be done. By doing this, we are keeping the editing history of existing buildings.

version Feature version. Blue = v1 to Yellow > v4.

What was imported?

Aside from the good quality of building footprint, we included several tags that describes every building. This is not visible in our default map rendering, but these tags exist in most of the data we imported.

Building types

We've included building types based on LA Country's Assessors information.

types Colored by building type.

Year the building was originally constructed

There's a lot of history in the urban expansion of Los Angeles starting from the pueblo in 1700s up to today. The import data has a year_built attribute which we included in the import. You can now see the city's settlement history in OpenStreetMap.

year_built Colored by year built, 1800 - 2015.

Building heights!

Rendered in Mapbox gl-js

These are a few of the tags we've added. I'm excited to see what the community creates out of this data. Our friends at MaptimeLA started experimenting with the data already!

cm0fn3_vyaaws-x jpg_large

Photo by MaptimeLA.

Are you planning on using this data in your own map? Catch the team this weekend at the SOTM-US and show us what you created!

More info about the import is available in the following links:

Location: Jefferson, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States of America

Mapping with Strava

Posted by joost schouppe on 19 July 2016 in English (English)

So I've been using the Strava data quite a bit recently. I knew the service from before, but then it was quite empty. The tip came from our übermapilliariator Filip when I was making too much notes mapping a nearby forest.

Strava for forest trails

I have mapped a lot of trails in Flemish forests. We're a densely populated piece of land, with very little forest (in fact, our environment minister literally said that "the purpose of a tree has always been to be cut down"). But even here, I have hardly ever visited a forest where all forest paths were mapped.

It requires local surveying as paths below trees are completely invisible, and we tend to do a better job mapping stuff you can see on sat pics... But even when you do go out to the woods, the resulting GPS tracks can be of bad quality. Strava to the rescue! Several million trips by hiking and biking-nerds are mashed together to give a clear indication of where people run and bike.

The easiest way to use it, is with the [Strava ID editor](, which comes preloaded with the layers you need. I often switch of the satellite imagery to improve visibility of the tracks. This ID version also contains the Slide tool, which lets you adjust geometry to the available tracks. I haven't had very satisfying results with that myself though. In Belgian forest, you can basically zoom in anywhere and find missing tracks. (For JOSM instructions, see the wiki)

Strava ID

Strava and surveying

Of course, you still have to combine this with some satpic reading skills, other sources and/or local knowledge. For example, when Strava, Wegenregister and Groteroutepaden GPX all point in the same direction, you can be pretty sure there's a path present.

I did spot some situations where people seem to be running straight through a meadow where no path is visible. And the standard view does not take into account time. Sometimes, clear changes are visible over time, see this experiment. So just looking at the global heatmap might get you mapping former paths.


Strava in Osmand

If you don't have other sources, or just want to go hiking somewhere you suspect mapping is incomplete, you can add this layer to Osmand. It will help you find paths with bad geometry, and help you find unmapped paths.Vague lines on the map, combined with a visible trailhead can be enough to verify the existence of the path. So you can add much more paths with just one survey. Note: I hid all polygons and road details on my view, which helps keep the map readable.

In Osmand

In the tradition of the app, the feature is well hidden. First of all, you need to have the "Online maps" plugin enabled. This is just a setting, no downloads required. Standard available layers include "Microsoft Earth" satpics and online OSM maps.

Strava isn't standard. To add it as a layer, you need to open the "Map source" menu, available under map settings. Scroll down till you find "Define/edit". The URL example is with blue lines. You can find more about this URL on the wiki

Setting it up in Osmand

Now your standard Osmand map is replaced with some blue lines. Great! Re-open the Map Source to get your "Offline vector maps" back. Now you can add the Strava layer as an Underlay or Overlay map. In the example above, I used it as an underlay with the basemap completely opaque. Forests (and other polygons) were switched off - but that does make for increased visibility.

(Note: I already contacted the Osmand Google Group with a feature request to make adding custom tiles just a little easier to use)

Location: Kluisbos, Buizingen, Halle, Halle-Vilvoorde, Flemish Brabant, Flanders, 1501, Belgium

OpenStreetMap HackWeekend: Hacking and more!

Posted by poornibadrinath on 19 July 2016 in English (English)

It was two fantastic days of hacking, discovering, sharing and generally having fun. OSM HackWeekend opened a lot of doors in the process of learning new things, sharing new ideas, building new tools, hacking on amazing stuff. It was the first time Mapbox BLR played host to two days of hacking, working on tools that build and escalate OpenStreetMap and the results were anything but ordinary.


Hack weekend (2 & 3 of July) served as a platform for meeting a lot of new and interesting people and the turn out we had for the event was equally diverse and intriguing. We had twenty one people attend the event from different places across India and it was fascinating to hear what their interests are and why they thought OpenStreetMap HackWeekend would broaden their perspective and give a new edge to their work profiles.

Day 1:
  • Day one of Hackweekend started with Arun (PlaneMad) taking the participants to the world of opensource mapping with a session on OpenStreetMap. Many participants were new to mapping on OpenStreetMap and this introductory session was the icebreaker and a conversation starter. With people slowly getting the idea of open-source mapping and how it came into being with OpenStreetMap beginning its reign, the focus slowly turned to the tools that maintain and perfect OpenStreetMap. Kushan took charge of explaining the goals of the HackWeekend and what we planned on accomplishing over the weekend and thus, the hacking ---------------- began!

osm hackday

Day 2:
  • Day two, even though it had lesser turnout than day 1, was no less fruitful. Everyone continued to work on the projects they started the previous day and by the end of the day we had a solid progress on the tasks initialized. Here's the hackpad of the ideas that everyone worked on, and to summarise what everyone worked on:
    • Manoj, Maning, Jinal and I worked on localising iD editor by translating instructions to Malayalam, Tagalog, Gujarati and Kannada respectively.
    • OpenStreetMap main website has had some translation to Malayalam by Manoj and also, he worked on visualising 3D buildings.
    • Ram Gopal (VoidSpace) worked on Open GTFS: a way to generate GTFS feeds for anywhere in the world.
    • Prashant and team worked on using GL JS to visualise population and literacy rate in India.
    • Asif and team worked on creating an app using android SDK that tracked the location of a transport and estimate the amount of time it would take to reach the next stop or station.
    • Ravigopal did a Jekyll and css re-organisation of the OSM India website.

starred photos

Amidst all the hacks and so much information to process, we didn't realise it was time to conclude the event. With a brief session of discussing what everyone worked on and what were their learnings from two days of hacking, we wrapped up the OpenStreetMap HackWeekend. Eagerly looking forward to more hacking and more fun!

dscn1694-001 Cheers!

"History of Cartography" in PDF format

Posted by ImreSamu on 18 July 2016 in English (English)

"On this site the University of Chicago Press is pleased to present the first three volumes of the History of Cartography in PDF format. Navigate to the PDFs from the left column. Each chapter of each book is a single PDF. The search box on the left allows searching across the content of all the PDFs that make up the first six books."

( via Hacker News: )

 The History of Cartography, Volume 1

Simple Reflections

Posted by Zabot on 18 July 2016 in English (English)

Another quick update, this is the first step on the road to reflections. Mirror Lake This looks pretty good, but we can immediately see a few issues. The trees on the left are not visible in the reflection, and we had to use a prebaked skybox instead of the procedural sky. The surface of the lake is also incredibly still and perfectly reflective, which looks great for a small lake or pond, but would be off-putting if seen on a large river or the ocean.

Stay tuned for more as I make the water a bit less perfect.

Mapping my hometown Visakhapatnam

Posted by upendrakarukonda on 18 July 2016 in English (English)

Visakhapatnam is my hometown, it is the largest city (in area) in Andhra Pradesh. It is called the City of Destiny.

View of the sunrise in the beach makes my city pretty special from many other cities. One must experience the panoramic sea view from Kailasagiri Hills ropeway. It's really awesome and will be your most memorable moment. This city always stands among top in natural scenery. Recently, India signed agreements for developing smart cities and I'm glad that my hometown was one among them.

sunrise_over_bay_of_bengal_at_rk_beach_011 Sunrise over Bay of Bengal at Ramakrishna beach in Visakhapatnam. Photo by Srichakra Pranav.

dc-cover-uv41mprfd12q674cf2hiekn9j4-20160318072218 medi 1 People enjoy a cable car ride at Kailasagiri Rope Way in Visakhapatnam. Photo from Deccan Chronicle.

When I came to know about OpenStreetMap and it's crowdsourcing, I feel that I should contribute being a citizen of this city. An updated map will help anybody who want to know more about my city and I am happy that I am part of it. I mapped the region around the Ramnagar. Though it was well mapped, I concentrated on adding point of interests (POIs), missing buildings, streets. I also spotted some errors which I fixed. This made my hometown in OpenStreetMap better.

Before mapping:

screen shot 2016-07-13 at 10 43 15 am

By following mapping guides using JOSM the mapping journey was effortless and thrilling.

These are what I added: - missing POIs, - buildings and streets, - amenities.

After mapping:

screen shot 2016-07-16 at 12 46 24 pm

During the mapping I learned the following:

  • Ensure that the correct tag was used. There are lot of tags in OpenStreetMap and we should always verify if we used the correct.

  • Maintain consistency of coverage. As much as possible, we should trace each and every building in a particular area (if visible in imagery). This ensures that the data doesn't have gaps.

  • Maintain quality of tracing. In the case of buildings, we should make sure that the outline location is at the base of the building according to the guidelines in the wiki.

Being a gourmand I always search for tasty and delicious food. Definitely that experience helped me to mark more restaurants, where they were not mapped before. I also mapped few amenities and shops which helps to explore more about my city.

screen shot 2016-07-18 at 4 35 35 pm

It was fun and exciting to map my hometown. Apart of that, I also feel responsible to make sure the map is accurate and free of errors. I will continue mapping my hometown by adding more valuable data.

Location: Lalitha Nagar, MVP Colony, Visakhapatnam, Vishakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh, 530001, India

comparing openstreemap-carto to other map styles

Posted by Mateusz Konieczny on 18 July 2016 in English (English)

This is the first part of comparing openstreetmap-carto and other map styles. Note that comparison is focused on finding things that may be improved in openstreetmap-carto.

Relief data

All maps in my basic sample turned out to show relief data. It ranges from subtle, almost unnoticeable to extremely heavy and dominating over all other features. Is is open question whatever adding rendering of elevation data to openstreetmap-carto would be desirable. But it is clear that rendering elevation data is common, and in some cases effect is great.


But even assuming that it would improve map there are some complications:

  • more non OSM data - what would run contrary to attempts reducing usage of external sources. It may be even considered as misleading given that OSM has no terrain data.
  • Default map already renders many things. Adding something completely new to render would need really good justification and would be very complicated to do well
  • To render elevation data source of worldwide elevation data on suitable license is necessary. Some data is available but either it requires major work to fix voids/peaks/pits (see for some examples of complication). There are some sources with this problems partially fixed - and seem to be the most popular, but both have a problematic copyright status. First has "Users are prohibited from any commercial, non-free resale, or redistribution without explicit written permission from CIAT", second claims that "Elevations and contour lines are facts that should be ineligible for copyright". While I agree that this should be ineligible for copyright I am not sure whatever these data is eligible for copyright (or fall under equivalent laws). AFAIK it is likely to be covered under database rights (collection of data may be protected even if individual entries are not copyrighted and there is no creative work involved).

See comparison of maps in a basic sample.


The previous comparison is revealing also another weakness in openstreetmap-carto - it is not capable of diplaying landmarks earlier. Google maps is fairly good at this - though with results badly affected by fact that "business paid for advertising" is one of criteria for landmark. Sputnik is trying, sometimes with fairly good results, sometimes with rather poor. But this problem is mostly affecting higher zoom levels.

On lower zoom levels mostly two types of landmarks are visible - "the highest mountain in region" visible above gives quite good results.


Sputnik seems to be also quite good at deciding which airports should be rendered. There are some mistakes, but overall their algorithm works fine. See Atlanta or Bogota with cluster of airpots to the west and cluster of airports in the eastern direction.

It is interesting whatever solely OSM data is used here.

See "Too many tiny private airports on the map at small scales".

Old Satellite Imagery of the Philippines

Posted by compumatrix on 18 July 2016 in English (English)

The Satellite image on these maps in the Northern Part of the Philippines is around 20 years old.

MapQuest Stops Serving Tiles

Posted by ryebread on 17 July 2016 in English (English)

So, I've decided to look at GNOME Maps yesterday and found that this happened: GNOME Maps shows the following message:

Beginning July 2016, this version of MapQuest, along with, will no longer be available. We apologize for any inconvenience. If you're using a map generated from this site on your website, please visit our Developer blog for information on how to transition your map to our updated tiles.

So now all the tiles displayed by MapQuest are hosted on MapBox servers, and every request requires a key to be provided.

actually we don't do the maps anymore, we use Mapbox. MapQuest is focusing on some mobile and IoT applications, routing and direction engines rather than maps


Problem with minor railways pretending to be major

Posted by Mateusz Konieczny on 17 July 2016 in English (English)

There is one common tagging problem - missing service tags on minor railways. It leads to a poor rendering on lower zoom levels, as renderers are rendering minor service tracks like important railways.

It is quite easy to spot places that require fixing by browsing map on lower zoom levels - see for example

This place at times of writing has noticeable bundle of rails near McAlester, indicating place where somebody mapped minor railway tracks without marking them as minor (note for this case is at


See for documentation how service tags should be used for railways. Note that remote mapping generally is not feasible as result of subtle differences between yard and siding.


Image by Basil D Soufi, CC-BY-SA license.

Nottinghamshire Civil Parishes - names for unnamed areas

Posted by alexkemp on 16 July 2016 in English (English)

I'm surveying my way currently through Carlton NG4, which is the suburb next-door to Nottingham NG3. In all the days & weeks that I've been covering this area I've puzzled over why Carlton does not have a designated area in OSM + where to find it. I believe that I may have discovered the answer for both questions.

csmale has put in place GPX file downloads for Counties, Districts, Boroughs, Unitary Authorities and Civil Parishes/Communities in the UK (sourced from Ordnance Survey shape-files + converted into gpx files for easy import) — how fantastic is that! Nottinghamshire is available as a county and Nottingham + other Boroughs/Districts are available as a Unitary Authority. The next level down from Unitary_Authority/Borough/District is Civil Parish, and they are all available as well. Hooray!

There is a worm in every apple it seems, and one problem with the Notts CPs is that, whilst most have a name, eight do not. So, to try & help, and after ludicrous amounts of research, here are the best answers that I can find:


See Also:

Nottinghamshire Civil Parishes
(note that a Civil Parish (CP) has zero connection with an Ecumenical Parish)

Admin Tags for Nottinghamshire:

boundary=administrative: (on way and/or on relation grouping those ways)

admin_level=1: n/a
admin_level=2: (Border, external (with Irish Republic))
admin_level=3: n/a
admin_level=4: (Border, internal (with Wales/Scotland))
admin_level=5: Region is “East Midlands”
admin_level=6: County is “Nottinghamshire”
admin_level=7: n/a
admin_level=8: Unitary_Authority/Borough/District (eg Nottingham, Rushcliffe District)
admin_level=9: n/a
admin_level=10: Parish (eg Alverton CP)



Extra Tags:

is_in:region=East Midlands
is_in:district=Rushcliffe District
name:old=Hucknall Torkard CP
old_name=Hucknall Torkard CP

Unnamed Shapes Named:

Q: When is a Civil Parish not a Parish?
A1: When it is an unparished Parish
A2: When it is a Municipal Borough or an Urban District

In short, there are 9 areas in Nottinghamshire that, if it were drawn as a map of CPs, would have 9 holes within it, each of which is given the generic classification of being “unparished”. Whatever that means.

  1. Unnamed_shape_5619
    This is part of the former “Worksop Municipal Borough”. Currently, Worksop is a node. Worksop is unparished & is within the Bassetlaw district.
  2. Unnamed_shape_5620
    This is the former “East Retford Municipal Borough”. Currently, Retford is a node. East Retford is unparished & is within the Bassetlaw district.
  3. Unnamed_shape_5632
    This is the former “West Bridgford Urban District”. West Bridgford is unparished and is within Rushcliffe district. The current West Bridgford residential relation contains a note, saying: “naive, includes Edwalton”. The OS includes both West Bridgford & Edwalton within shape_5732.
  4. Unnamed_shape_5749
    This is a union of part of the former “Arnold Urban District” and “Carlton Urban District”, each of which is within Gedling district. Both Arnold & Carlton are unparished. The current Arnold CP relation is mostly the correct shape, but with errors (wrong name, little attribution, no 'outer' type, etc.).
    16 July: boundary updated from shape_5749 + relation, etc. fixed
    17 July: name fixed; entry s/b complete
  5. Unnamed_shape_5761
    This is a union of the former “Kirkby in Ashfield Urban District” and “Sutton in Ashfield Urban District”, each of which is within Ashfield district. Both Kirkby & Sutton are unparished.
    28 July: this was so easy! (see Mansfield below), and is now in place
  6. Unnamed_shape_5762
    This is the former “Hucknall Urban District”. Hucknall is unparished and is within Ashfield district. A Hucknall (unparished) admin boundary relation (name:old=Hucknall Torkard CP) already exists, although the Relation is broken due to various missing features.
    18 July: boundary updated from shape_5762 + relation, etc. fixed; s/b complete
  7. Unnamed_shape_5851
    This is part of the former “Beeston and Stapleford Urban District”. Beeston is unparished and is within Broxtowe district.
  8. Unnamed_shape_5861
    This is a concatenation of the former “Mansfield Municipal Borough” & “Mansfield Woodhouse Urban District”. Both Mansfield + Mansfield Woodhouse are unparished, and each is within Mansfield district.
    28 July: this was not easy, requiring fixes & repairs to existing districts, but is now in place.
  9. Nottingham
    The hole at the centre of Nottinghamshire is unparished and was formerly known as “Nottingham County Borough”.

Add/Edit a Parish Boundary HowTo:

I did this for the 1st time with 4. Unnamed_shape_5749 to edit the Arnold CP boundary to become (in the end) the Arnold and Carlton (unparished) boundary. My 2nd edit will use 6. Unnamed_shape_5762 to edit the Hucknall (unparished) boundary. I'll edit this blog live to make sure that the instructions are as accurate as possible. It will assume that you have already installed & use JOSM on a desktop computer, that it is connected to the Internet, and that everything is up-to-date.

  1. You will need the fastest computer possible with as much memory as possible
      My JOSM offline save-file is 437MB. JOSM seems to load all of that into memory at once.
  2. Start with a fresh load of JOSM; wait until the very first screen comes up; do nothing else!
  3. Use the File menu and, if you have the option to Download OSM Data Continuously, switch it OFF.
  4. Outside of JOSM, copy the GPX url-link for the file that you are going to use
  5. In JOSM, use Open Location... (Ctrl-L), paste the URL + press OK (you should now be looking at a black screen with a magenta/purple outline)
  6. Use the “+” key and the “Ctrl+arrow” keys to view a part of the outline at high magnification
    (it was 6 “+”'s for me initially) (once working, a length of “3.00 m” at top-left on the screen is typical for me, going to 1m or less if more detailed work is required.
  7. Switch Download OSM Data Continuously back ON
  8. (this was probably a mistake): I loaded my save-file, obtained previously by Save As.... It took forever to load. It would in hind-sight have been better to have let the machine auto-download from OSM. At high mag that is very quick.
  9. You now need the GPX trace + any prior boundary lines easily viewable in the window. It is almost certain that the magnification will need to be very high to be able to operate comfortably. Do NOT switch any imagery on unless you need to check the boundary against rivers, roads, etc..
  10. Unless the territory in front of you is perfectly virgin it is likely that, once highlighted, any existing boundary lines will contain more than one Relation. That means that you need to careful if editing any boundary, as it will affect all other relations.
    In my case, viewing the Parish boundary just below Linby, there are four: “Linby CP” (admin_level=10), “Gedling” district (admin_level=8) & “Ashfield” district (admin_level=8). The fourth is “Hucknall (unparished)”, but it has neither admin_level nor roles for any members. In addition, the last member does not connect back to the first (unlike all of the other 3), which suggest some kind of breaks in the chain.
  11. The first thing to do is to add roles for each member (it can only be “outer”, since there will be no holes within this boundary) + admin_level=10 so that it can look “Linby CP” in the eye.
  12. Next is to trace round the boundary circle, looking to try to find any errors in the chain. Here is my first example of the kind of mind-numbingly stupid 'errors' that you may find:
    The boundary is following a footpath heading north-west through a wood and joins another couple of Parish Boundaries coming up from the left (south) on the edge of that wood. One of those boundaries (“Nuthall”) follows back down the track I've been chasing, whilst the other (“Greasley”) joins with the track I'm on, heading north. So far, so normal. These are the 3 values for “source” in those 3 tracks meeting at a point:
    source=OS OpenData BoundaryLine (the track I've followed to this point)
    source=OS_OpenData_Boundary_Line (the track joining from below)
    source=OS_OpenData_Boundary_Line (the track continuing above)
    Because the Relation indicated that the ways were disjointed I attempted to merge them, but those different source values stopped it. Sometimes I want to spit. All 3 were changed to source=OS_OpenData_BoundaryLine, and all thoughts of merging the ways were abandoned.
    One more feature was that originally the footpath & the boundary nodes were joined - a foolish idea if you want easy maintenance. Up to the 3 ways joining, the boundary track had been astonishingly accurate to the gpx track (much better than how I left Arnold CP). However, at the 3 way join it all went to pot, and I had to split them all to be able to conduct repairs. By going to the highest-mag the nodes could be placed side-by-side without needing to merge them.
    03:25am: phew! painstaking small trims to the line of the Parish boundary to keep it true to the gpx track & after meeting up with yet another set of boundary line + relations (Broxtowe, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire) I finally am able to get all ways into line & it merges into a circle! Wow! dunnit. Here's the overview of that specific procedure:
    Lines of nodes are joined together into a ‘way’. Click on a line between 2 nodes in JOSM & all connected lines in the way will be selected. That way is given a number, and the Relation window shows all ways in order. So, the currently selected way that I've just been working on is 61594085. The next one will be 61594091. It is also currently the next one in the window below 61594085, but when I reached the junction of the two ways it was NOT the next one. I clicked on the “Move the currently selected member up” icon within the Members section of the Relation window, as I had for the previous out-of-order sections and lo! It was the final one to slot into position.
    I have absolutely no idea what difference that will make, but it does mean that I should have finished my work on this Parish Boundary and, after saving & uplifting everything, I should be able to finally get to bed. Hooray.
Location: Lace Market, St Ann's, Nottingham, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Carlton Khazis

Posted by alexkemp on 16 July 2016 in English (English)

As I've gotten further into the Carlton heartland (earliest houses in the suburbs: late 1800s / early 1900s, with a large number of 1920/1930s semi-detached) I was surprised to see a number of khazis. A few had been kept for their original purpose (very useful if you get caught short whilst gardening), but most had been converted into tool-sheds. I'm surveying now close to the heart of Carlton and came across a row of Worth Street khazis which could conveniently be photographed from Cavendish Road. This is the khazis close up (the pussycat is a bonus item):—

row of khazis + cat

...whilst these two photos are the same buildings from a distance (in both cases the khazis are on the left, covered with greenery to hide their blushes):—

distance shot #1 distance shot #2

I knew that Victorian houses commonly came with outdoor khazis 'cos my father was born & raised in such a house, but I was surprised to find that 1920s/30s houses could be built in the same way. One of the utter delights for my parents was in 1954 to be able to move from sharing his mother's house into their own prefab (“pre-fabricated house”), complete with indoor toilet & bathroom plus constant hot water. All 3 of those were unknown items for many families in Britain & that remained common until the 1960s/70s.

My own house in Thorneywood has a start_date of 1883 & is similar to that Worth Street terrace. There is zero drainage at the front (the street is on a hill and both needs & has full drainage, but all the house gutters empty on to the pavement). All house sewers & drainage are at the rear, and the sewer is common to the entire terrace & empties into the side-street sewer.

Thus, it seems likely that my & my neighbour's houses were also built with outside khazis; however, there was zero sign of any of them when I moved in in the 1980s.

My sense is that the Victorians (and later) were repelled by the idea of bringing toilet functions inside the home, and actively wanted them placed at the bottom of the garden (as far away from the house as possible). It was not a great many years previously that “bad odours” (miasma) were directly connected by their medical professionals with disease. In addition, very few people owned their own homes. Even the middle-class rented their homes, paying yearly on 100 year leases. In that situation the beneficial owner would have very little incentive to build up to a standard; anything that reduced the build cost would be embraced.


16 July: a note on prefabs: my birth town was Hull and my parents moved from Mayfield Street to Grange Road. Mayfield was close to the town centre, a nearby railway line & the West Docks, all of which were prime targets for the WWII bombing that laid much of Hull flat. Their prefab was a 2-bedroom bungalow with pre-cast concrete frame & asbestos roof; it had a design-life of 10 years & lasted 50. The bungalows that I surveyed yesterday on Foxhill Road Central & Rushcliffe Avenue are an identical design from the outside—if using different materials internally—to those prefabs.

Location: Arnold CP, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom
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