Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

I am a bit less of a leech on OSM

Posted by Eric Gelinas on 17 November 2014 in English (English)

Changes I made in Kenya (Left: Mapping work I did as part of the OSM Mapathon Right: a map of Africa centered on the area where I made my change)

I owe a lot to OpenStreetMap (OSM). Some of the projects I am most proud of having worked on in my career would not have been as possible or as cool without it. Since OSM is a contribution dependant project, it is natural that I would have the urge to give back. I have been working with OSM data in one way or another since 2010, but surprisingly this weekend, near the end of 2014 was the first time I actually edited a feature.

I think the main reason I didn’t contribute until now was fear of messing something up. The OSM community has done a great job building user-friendly tools and tutorials, but there was still a little fear that my first edit would somehow break something.

So, what was different this time?

This Saturday, Alan McConchie, a fellow Stamen and renowned mapping mensch, hosted a mapathon event in the Studio. He assured us that if we go, there will be patient people and achievable tasks for all. Saturday I arrived and listened to a quick explanation of the editors available to us. At first I was intrigued by the description of JOSM, which is an installable application. Usually authoring tools which you actually install have a much better workflow than ones you use through the web. The cloud is great but I still prefer to load my spreadsheets in Numbers over Google Apps and my Mail in a client instead of a web browser. In this case however, I ended up being a lot happier with the iD editor which is a web application. iD is integrated into the workflwow as well as nicely designed and implemented. The options are simple and powerful, which exactly what you need as a beginner. JSOM is packed with time-saving tools and indispensable workflows, but it is not made the novice in mind.

With an editor selected, I headed to the HOT project list. This is a list of manageable mapping tasks which one can claim. Each tasks takes you to a specific place on the map in the editor of your choice, with specific and achievable tasks to complete. If you have been following along, so far I had patient people supporting me, iD empowering me to make edits, and now HOT is informing me on what exactly I can do to contribute. I had come close to editing in the past but it usually ended with me staring at a part of my hometown, or an area where I went on vacation, timidly hovering over a part of a Satellite image of a building or trail. This time I am being welcomed by the OSM community and being given measurable tasks to complete.

Over the two hours I spent on my task, I filled out a number of roads, buildings, and fields in a Kenyan town. This area had not yet been added to OSM and maps were needed for humanitarian efforts. Drawing these roads and buildings brought back childhood memories of taking my toy trucks into the yard as a kid and making roads from dirt and building little lakes and bridges with hose water and sticks. Later on, Sim City brought this kind of play to the next level and I was able to build whole simulated cities. I could spend hours watching them develop. This feels similar in a way only a bit more fascinating because you are tracing the result of actual human involvement with the landscape. This isn’t a simulation, you are tracing how roads and fields actually grew out across this valley in Kenya. Then you get to zoom out a bit and see how your map area interacts with areas others have mapped, as well as the rest of the mapped world.

At the end of my two hour session, Whitney came to pick me up so we could go to lunch. I encouraged her to take a moment to map one building before I shut down my computer and released the rest of my task for others to finish. She was sceptical this would be something she would enjoy and easily pick up. I quickly explained the editor, and a little about HOT, and showed her the outline of a building in the satellite imagery. Within minutes she outlined and classified a few buildings and completed a road I had begun. She committed them under my name and looked really satisfied with what she had accomplished. She said this is absolutely something she would do again.

This event made me so much more optimistic in the future of OSM than I already was. As time goes on we will get even better at empowering, informing, and supporting people to use their idle time to contribute to the worlds open data sources. There are lots of ways to use your idle time for good and some of them can actually be fun.

Originally posted on my blog.

Location: Mission District, San Francisco, San Francisco City and County, California, 94110, United States of America

Roadmap: A State of the Map for all communities worldwide

Posted by joost schouppe on 16 November 2014 in English (English)

TLDR: click these links to play with South America OSM contributor statistics on a continental level, in detail. It's ready for the world. Or even easier, get a ready made report for a continent, a country or a region.

This is a writeup for the presentation I gave at State of the Map 2014. Slides available here (since it's such a bother to add images to diary entries, you'll have to refer to the slides for pretty pictures). You know about these motivationals saying things like "do one thing every day that scares you"? Well I did, and I wouldn't recommend it. So I'm thinking maybe a written version might be a little more coherent.


During my one year road trip through South America, I'm trying to do as many things OSM as possible. Of course, I'm navigating using Osmand, contributing tracks, notes and POI's along the way. I'm trying to convince other roadtrippers to use OSM, which in a lot of cases they're already using anyway. Making contributors out of them is harder: a lot of them seem to know they can, feel like they should, but just "haven't found the time to really look into it". Then recently, I did a presentation about OSM in Carmen Pampa, a village near Coroico, La Paz, Bolivia.

But mostly, I want the world.

The job I'm on a one year break from, revolves around generating and providing data in such a way that people can make their own analysis. In a lot of cases, that means taking GIS data or agregated statistical data and simplify them to a geographic neighborhood level. A quite literal example: count the number of green pixels within a neighborhood and devide them by number of people. So here's what I do: a bit of automation, some basic statistics, some self-thaught GIS skills, some translating problems back and forth between humans and database querying. I'm great at none of those, but I understand a bit of all these worlds.

At work, the area of interest is just the tiny metropolis of Antwerp. But the tools we use lend themselves to much wider scales.

So I though, during my trip, why not do the same thing a bit bigger? Antwerp is known for its big egos - and I have to admit I do fit in. So how about the world.

Global Openstreetmap Community Statistics

Slightly obsessed with statistics and with OSM, I felt a lack of mid-level statistics about OSM. Yes, we have some tools telling you how many people edited recently, etc. But there is no "state of the map" for any country, any region. There is a lot of opinion on new contributor mess-ups, or on imports - but few statistics to back it all up.

So here's the one-year plan: make a worldwide tool to see the State of the Map for any region, country and continent in the world.

Minor detail: I wanted to present it at State of the Map Buenos Aires, only half a year away. And it was much more complicated to work from my campervan than I thought. 3G is slow, expensive and often absent from the places we stayed. The amazing 12v-19v converter I found blew up the computer in Ecuador. A total loss in Europe, they fixed it for 100 USD in Quito - but there went another month. Also, I'm not a programmer, so I had to learn quite a lot - and have quite a lot to learn still.

I wanted to go beyond the ad hoc analyses you so often see. People are interested in Switzerland, France, South Africa. All these case studies bring interesting insights, but I wanted to provide the basics to all communities. From what profound research has tought is, we know that often it is enough to look at OSM data to know the quality of OSM data. For example: the easiest indicator of map quality is the number of people contributing.

There are some national OSM statistics available, I wanted to go beyond that. Of course, there are a lot of national communities, but being from Belgium, I decided the national level isn't ideal. And for countries like the US, Brazil or Russia, well, it's just not fair to only give them as much space as Liechtenstein is it? So I decided to go (with some exceptions) for the highest subdivision of countries.

I decided to use OSM as a base for the regions, I don't quite remember why, but I'm sticking to the theory that it was a matter of principle. The principle being: the more people actually use the data, the better it will become. At the time (say beginning 2014), these devisions were very far from complete. I started working on the problem where I could, even wrote a diary post about my cleaning experience. But of course Wambacher's wonderfull boundaries tool had the larger impact. There has been amazing progress in under a year, and now the only larger countries that have severe problems with their top level regions are:

Sri Lanka
New Zealand

Of course, people keep destroying administrative relations. Some of them because they're new and ID doesn't warn you about destroying relations. Rarely some vandalism. And often as well by very experienced users having an off-day I suppose.

It took me quite some time, but now I have a beautiful shapefile of the world with most all international conflicts resolved and anly a few regions claiming their neighbours territory. Yes, I can share this SHP.

Turning historical OSM data into statistics

I believe you can only understand where we are, if you know how we got there. And for a complete view of Openstreetmap evolution, you do need the history files. These contain every version of every thing that has ever existed in OSM - with some exceptions caused by the license change and redaction work. There is no easy way to work with these files. I had to learn how to translate these data into statistics. That meant learning a whole new world of Virtualbox, Linux, Osmium, History Splitter, PSQL. And I'll probably have to learn some C++ and R yet. I could never have gotten on with this whole project without the help of Ben Abelshausen and especially Peter Mazdermind, whom I've bothered enormously. I wrote a bit about these first steps (with links to Peter's tools) in my diary as well. If you like prety maps more than stats, you'll probably not make it back here again :)

The workflow so far, as suggested by Peter, is to cut up the world into small pieces, import them into PSQL and then make some queries. To cut up the world, I convert my regions shapefile to poly files using the OSM-to-poly for qGIS 1.8. So far, I have little more than a proof of concept. Let's take all data for an area, dump unique combination of users and start dates of objects and use SPSS to make some simple indicators.

So here are the first results, a complete basic statistics tool with data on a continental level but also in detail. It's completely interactive and ready for the world. Of course you can compare evolutions, but if you play around with the tool a bit, you'll see the possibilities are endless.

You'll be forgiving for not liking to 'play' with a tool like this, as most normal people don't. To make you're life easier, there's a reporting studio which gives you a ready made analysis of the evolution of contributors in a continent, country or region of your choice. This being SOTM Buenos Aires, the obvious examples are South America, Argentina and the city of Buenos Aires.

All the data in the tool is available for re-use: you can download xls or xml for any view you make, WMS services can be provided, you can remotely query a visualization and you can acces through a basic API.

The tool I've used for the online presention is closed source (I know), but is exactly what you need for a project like this. It was kindly provided by the Dutch company ABF Research.

From my experience at State of the Map, I don't feel like I made quite clear what is the importance of a tool like this. I'll try to give some more examples of what could be easily done with just OSM data.

  • You don't need any other sources than OSM data to get an idea about road network completeness, and how much is left to be mapped.
  • You could make statistics about how many map errors are open In more advanced countries, see how quickly landuse mapping is being completed
  • Does mapping peter out when the map gets more adult? Or is it the other way around, does more data imply more people using and contributing to even more data? Is there an exponential curve of map development. And dare I say, yes? (LINK)
  • How do imports really affect mapping? Is a country which starts of with a larg import likely to quickly grow a large community, or will it start to lag behind after a while?
  • Is the number of mappers proportional to people or to GDP?
  • Do most regions follow the same growth track, but just started of later? Or are there regions that will not ever get properly mapped without special outside attention?
  • Or something very specific: "does the probability of a new contributor becoming a recurring contributor increase if we contact all new mappers in our area"?
  • What does HOT attention do to local community development? Are people recruited through a HOT project more likely to keep contributing?

Any subject leads itself to the creation of indicators. How quickly do notes get resolved? Simple: count the number of nodes still open, three months after their creation. Then you can quickly compare the speedyness of note resolution in different regions. And maybe even adopt a region to watch some notes in. Or some investigator might decide to look into the dynamics of note resolution, and suggest better indicators.

The tool allows 1000ths of indicators to be easily managed and widely consulted.

A cry for help

As I kept saying at SOTM, I don't really know what I'm doing, and I would like some outside checks. I even admitted on stage that I'm a Potlach2 mapper. I'll say it again: I like Potlach. Aparently, that can earn you free beer. But it does mean I need help. I do think I will get some, but I'll take some more effort from my side. For example, I might get some scripts to get the road length out of a history file. I'm also going to look into some C++ scripts that Abhishek made. And maybe OSM France can set up a history server which might make life a bit easier on my poor computer.

Part of my lack of confidence at SOTM was that my numbers of contributors for a given country were much higher than a colleague investigator found. And after my presentations I saw some more numbers that frightened me. So the last week, I've been trying to figure out what went wrong. It turned out: nothing did. Wille from Brazil pointed out that user naoliv produces some statistics of number of contributors for Brazil - and mine where much higher. Only after a while was I sure that he didn't use the history files, but a current world snapshot, which is bound to creat some difference. But even then the differences were much higher than I would have thought. Here's some basic statistics (taken at a random moment beginnening of 2014):

6936 number in history files 5585 number in current world 178 known in current world, but not in the history files 1529 known in history files, but not in the current world dump

How can you be known in the current Brazil map, but not in the history files, as 178 people are? Well, I honestly don't know. Some random checking was in order. Most cases seemed to be people editing very close to the border of Brazil. I use the exact borders, whereas naoliv uses the Geofabrik dump which probably has a tiny buffer to ensure data integrity. But there were also some cases where I have no clue as to what causes someone not to show up in my dumps. Anyway, small differences are bound to arise in databases like this. You'll probably always get some noise in analysis like this - though mostly because of some deeply hidden error or bias.

Another 1529 have contributed to the Brazil map, but their work is not visible anymore at all. I though this not impossible, but still surprising large. Some random checking learned that these people did in fact contribute to Brazil at one time. Here are some statistics I found comforting:

Here we look at the percentage of people found in the history files, lost in the current version of the map. Overall, the number is 22% lost. But when we classify by number of added/touched nodes, you see the number is much higher for people with few edits. Which is exactly what you would expect if the cause of the difference is people's work getting overwited. If you have more edits, less chance that 'all will be lost'.

Percentage lost to current state
1-10    35%
11-50   13%
51-250  5%
251+    1%

The same goes when we look at the last year people have contributed to the map in Brazil. People editing in 2008 have 56% of not being visible in the current state of the map. Again, what you would expect if people's edits are overwritten. The longer ago you've contributed, the more probable that you're contribution has been lost.

Percentage lost to current state
2007    57%
2008    56%
2009    50%
2010    40%
2011    31%
2012    24%
2013    17%
2014    10%

This means that when you make contributor statistics, the difference between using history files and current world dumps are pretty high.

With this I'm feeling a lot more confident. I'm thinking to build up more in depth analysis first, and only then try and do the whole world. At least, further worldwide analysis will have to wait till 2014 is completed. That way I can work on history files that include the whole of 2014. I'll have my friends in Belgium download them :)

Here's a list of things I think I can manage, in rough order of how hard it will be, or how far I've gotten. WE could of course manage much more, much better, much sooner. But that means YOUR help. I should stop watching motivational posters.

  • cumulative number of contributors, or active contributors by year
  • number of nodes, ways, polygons (created, deleted, touched)
  • notes resolution
  • proportion of data contributed by 'local' contributors
  • number of mapped hamlets/villages/towns/cities
  • kilometers of roads by type
  • proportion of area covered by land use

I'm very interested in other suggestions. Especially if they come with a script that gets the numbers out of a OSHistory file.

Location: camino a Uchumachi, Coroico, Provincia Nor Yungas, La Paz Departament, Bolivia

New MapRoulette challenge, Massachusetts Schools

Posted by jremillard on 16 November 2014 in English (English)

This week, I created a new MapRoulette challenge, called "Massachusetts Schools".

Thank you Martijn van Exel, and Serge Wroclawski for making it possible (even easy) to add in your own challenges to MapRoulette. I used the loader python script, which requires a postgis database. It was just a couple of hours of fiddling with the SQL statement to make it work. I still hope to make small adjustments to the help and instructions text.

In Massachusetts, most of the schools were imported twice. Once from the national GNIS database import, and a second time from a statewide MassGIS data set. Both imported data sets are old and are getting stale. A surprising number of schools have moved, closed, or changed names since the data was imported. The schools need some attention.

Hopefully over the next 2 years, we will get them cleaned up.

We also plan on using this challenge in our local OSM OpenStreetMap-Boston meetup

Cross-stitch OSM globe

Posted by Hawkeye on 16 November 2014 in English (English)

Some more cross-stitch to complete but here's the early view of a globe based on OpenStreetMap data :-)


OSM IQ (2go) in the Windows Store

Posted by marco79 on 15 November 2014 in English (English)

A mobile Version of OSM-IQ for Windows 8.1 is now available in the Windows Store. The app is optimised for touchscreens and ideal for mobile use.

OSM-IQ RT Sceenshot

Download now form Windows Store or see Details on

Rose garden

Posted by escada on 15 November 2014 in English (English)

After having mapped all sculptures in the Middelheim museum, umap of scultptures

I decided to start mapping the rose garden of the Vrijbroekpark in Mechelen. Rose garden Vrijbroekpark, Mechelen

However, there is no established tagging schema for this yet. I found e.g. landuse=flowerbed, a few landcover=flowerbed and natural=flowerbed. There are perhaps a few other schemes in use, but I could not find something that was really used a lot. So I decided to go for the following for the moment:

  • landuse=flowerbed
  • genus=rose
  • genus:nl=rozen
  • group:nl=...
  • variety:nl=...

it is pretty easy to change this in case someone points me to a better tagging schema. I have also made a small JOSM preset for personal use with those tags.

Since the dogs do not like the very slow pace needed to make notes and pictures, I only did a small part. No problem, we come there quite often, so next time we continue this work. One of the surveys in Middelheim, with the dogs

In the meantime I already made another map showing all the flowerbeds I mapped so far umap of Rose garden

Please drop me note in case you know a better way to tag the flowerbeds

Location: Vrijgeweidestraat, Mechelen, Antwerp, Flanders, 2800, Belgium


Posted by eLeL68 on 15 November 2014 in English (English)

Filipa Grabovca Zagreb, HR 10000

Location: Šalata, Gornji Grad - Medveščak, Zagreb, City of Zagreb, 1000, Croatia

Rqst for Change set:

Posted by မောင့်-အမျိုးသ္မီးချောကလျာ on 14 November 2014 in English (English)

Somebody fix this one, please. I was unable to do it.Instead of getting a whole area I got lines only. So I dropped a point and described it.

Thank you .

What I want

Posted by Zverik on 12 November 2014 in English (English)

Hi. I often drop hints about what our project misses, and now want to talk some bit more about a part I'm interested in. Since I joined OpenStreetMap, I have been interested in geodata collecting methods. I quickly grasped walking papers, put my GPS and camera to use, and struggled with georeferencing audio recordings. OSM allows for many types of sources, and in past years a lot were invented. But alas, not much in last years.

Walking papers (or field papers) are still produced from tiles., the "modern" service for generating atlases, is more than two years old and is a slight update to older, built in 2009. It stiches tiles and produces a PDF file. You have no control over map style, you can't even use your own tiles. "Toner" style, which is the best option, are updated infrequently: you might have to wait a week before traced buildings appear on it. And some of them still won't, since it's hard to grasp how it works and why it hides some features unpredictably. Finally, pages of an atlas will be oriented by cardinal directions, in a grid with 90° angles. Of course, not many towns have such proper road network, so you will have to choose smaller scale, with less effective area for mapping.

I think I can fix this. It is easy, really: most of building blocks for a proper solution are already invented. First, an interactive map, on which you place rectangles for pages. Arbitrarily, not neccessary in a grid. Maybe draw some lines, which would be "pie segments": instead of using MS Paint for making a pie, use some advanced technology. Maybe integrate it with MapCraft. So, a bunch of rectangles on a map. Not 90°-aligned: rotate them as you like. Align with road network, with streams etc, so areas for filling in take as much space as possible, and scale is biggest you can get. When done, just save your work and close the website. Go trace some buildings and tracks.

When a morning of a mapping party comes, open the website and press "Create atlas". It will display the progress, but the atlas will be made on a server asynchronously. First, it downloads an area from OSM API. Yes, not from a local postgis database, only fresh data. An added bonus (for local installation) is that you can use cached osm data, or just bring it from another computer, if an internet connection is weak. Then it applies a MapCSS style (which you can customize, even upload some of your own or josm's) and renders each page, rotating data as needed. Then it joins pages into an atlas and provides a download link. Later the atlas can be rebuild, using fresh data, maybe a different style or with more pages.

I don't believe in scanning pages for using them as a layer in JOSM (Bing/MapBox imagery make for a better reference layer), but georeferencing marks probably can be included. That won't be the greatest feature, because I have some other thoughts. You know the weakest point of the OpenStreetMap mapping in 2014? Updating data. It is quite easy to collect and map new roads, new POIs, new restrictions. But updating it is very, very hard, almost impossible for rich regions. There are no tools. My theoretical walking papers can fix that issue. Since we have full control over data, we can put POIs and relevant tags right on pages. We have a second side: for example, on the map there would be dots with coordinates (A4, D9), and on the reverse side — tags for each dot. And the same for ways and maybe relations (didn't think it all through, obviously). So you can have not only a base map for collecting new data, but also a check list for updating the already rich map.

This solution will make mapping easier not only in thrid-world countries (where internet is sparse and you can't rely on external web services, or spend days installing tile rendering stacks), but in densely mapped cities, where data has not been updated for years, because it already seems well-mapped, why go there again.

The next step would be an Android application for mapping. Why android? Because I again keep in mind mappers in third-world countries, who can get an android phone for $30, but not an iPhone for $300. So, let's take Vespucci. It is a powerful editor, getting better every months thanks to Simon. It can download an area and let you edit it. But can it work without internet and GPS? Not likely. Can it be used on a mapping party, when you are passing 10 points of interest a minute? You'll be exhausted in half an hour. The ideal mapping solution will have to separate data collection and data processing. Step 1: go out and record everything. Take photos, record audio, type a hundred house numbers, draw some crude lines on a touch-screen, like you do on walking papers. The interface should allow for quick mapping, e.g. in a car: you see a sign — you press a button and leave moving a mark to a correct place and tagging it for later. KeypadMapper and OSM Tracker are examples of this approach, but it should be made more streamlined and consistent. You cannot rely on GPS, for it has low precision, and not available on cheaper phones (off go those two apps). You cannot rely on the internet to provide you with tiles (off goes OSMPad). But you can assume you'll have a chance to download 100k of osm data back at home (or 10-20k on the road), to use as a base map for further mapping.

Step 2: Upload collected data somewhere (e.g. on your computer), process it and update the map. Data format can be universal, which means some central server for storing all the information. Audio notes can (and should) be converted to text, GPS trace joined from broken segments, data split between days and so on. Since most of points would be in tags or other non-textual representation, so anybody can use it for mapping, you would have an option of upload it to a server (right from your phone), so someone else could map it in their spare time. Or it could be you, download the data pack in JOSM. And then — map it. Recorded points shown as icons, with copypasteable tags; photos already georeferenced with subsecond precision, notes written on a map, crude drawings also georeferenced as underlying layers, between OSM data and imagery. It would be so much better then trying to remember what you meant by these waypoint titles, or having to read your handwriting on walking papers. And technical requirements would be as low as they get.

I am not a great programmer, or a designer. But I know what and how should be done to drastically improve mapping in OSM. No commercial company would make it, because they make profit not from mapping, but from using already mapped data. Hence loads of geocoders, routers, renderers, data converters, but nothing really good and innovative on editing front (sans iD, which was really lucky and sponsored by a grant). I really really want all I wrote above implemented. I want to push a button and get up-to-date walking papers with POIs for my street, to go out and find new amenities and update opening hours. After a long drive I want to run JOSM and add lane information, cafes, hotels and petrol stations, house numbers and surfaces I collected just hours ago to the map. I want to make OSM better, but I see no way these tools could be made. We all know the main principle of OpenStreetMap: "You want it — you make it". Maybe some wonderful person would start on that, but given my experience with mentoring "OpenSurveyor" on GSoC, it's not an easy task for students or even novices to OSM. Turned out having a 10-page design document means three months won't be enough.

All I know I can program, I know some of these technologies and will have little trouble learning the rest. Eventually I can finish all that. But as a spare-time job, between hosting an osm radio, writing news posts for shtosm, organizing mapping parties, disputing on osmf-talk and so on, progress would be very, excruciatingly slow. Not to mention I have other challenging ideas like writing a proper changeset reverting web service. So can you recommend me any way to make creating these tools my full-time occupation?

update: if some company (Stamen? Mapzen? Mapbox? Enaikoon?) decides to commit to one of these projects, I'd be happy to translate and update specifications.

Fix a Forest - experimental tiles from US Forest Service data

Posted by Richard on 11 November 2014 in English (English)

Klamath Forest

I've created a set of tiles from US Forest Service road data for the 155 US National Forests.

This is to help with TIGER fixup in these rural areas, where tracks, trails and entirely non-existent paths are often tagged with a bare "highway=residential". The US Forest Service data is greatly superior to the original TIGER data and has metadata on surface type/quality, but is unsuitable for automatic import into OSM because it would overwrite mappers' existing work in these areas.

You can access the tiles at:

and they're included in the editor-imagery-index list used by P2, iD and Vespucci. The tiles are available up to z19. Use of Potlatch 2's new floating imagery window mode is recommended, so that you can work from both Bing imagery and these tiles at the same time.

You can also explore from the comfort of your browser at, where there's an "Edit this area in OpenStreetMap" link at the bottom right.


  • Surface:
    • yellow outline = paved
    • grey outline = gravel
  • Road type:
    • white with black casing = paved road
    • dashed grey = gravel road suitable for cars
    • dashed brown = dirt road
    • dotted grey = not maintained for cars
  • Maintenance level:
    • grey dots = 4x4 only
    • green dots = usable by cars
    • black dots = moderately comfortable for cars
    • black frequent dots = very comfortable for cars
  • Points of interest:
    • car = roadside park
    • flag = Forest Service station
    • ski = winter recreation area
    • hiker = trailhead
    • campsite = campsite
    • picnic site = picnic site

(There's some degree of overlap, but this is present in the original USFS data.)

When fixing up data, I would suggest the following tags as a minimum:

  • highway=unclassified - paved road
  • highway=unclassified, surface=unpaved/gravel/dirt - unpaved road suitable for cars
  • highway=service - road to isolated dwelling or other building
  • highway=track - unpaved track or road suitable for 4x4s
  • highway=path - narrow linear clearing, too narrow for motor vehicles
  • [delete entirely] - raw TIGER data with no signs of track or path in either imagery or Forest Service tiles

US Forest Service data is public domain so there's no need for further attribution when using this data, though a source= tag is always good practice.

Hope these are helpful, and let me know of any further suggestions.

Offline Routing on iOS? The Open Source Route Planner GraphHopper is now Available for iOS

Posted by karussell on 11 November 2014 in English (English)

Please read on our blog for the full announcement.

"Just watch Taginfo" - doesn't work at all outside En community

Posted by d1g on 11 November 2014 in English (English)

(Please forward this text to right person or place)

There are a lot of problems outside En community when it comes to OSM guideline "just watch Taginfo for popular values". This approach work more or less for EN community, but users outside English-speaking world faced with the challenge to realize the word, not local word with similar letters\sounding.

I do Russian translation at wiki\ID\communicate with ru community and many ru users do no realize that reading tag values by letters in Taginfo doesn't work without meaning of the word. it may sound absurd, but it is not written anywhere. Instead we (English speaking world) promote "just watch the most popular values in Taginfo ". This is serious issue outside GB, USA, Canada, Australia. We have way more countries. Even more if OSM want to grow.

  1. Promote OSM wiki instead of Taginfo across all non-English languages. Possibly notice should be given at langcode:main page@wiki or every single wiki guide/content should be rewritten.
  2. Not Taginfo fault, but Taginfo can fix this. Just add feature to Taginfo to directly show wiki-translated page based on "Accept-Language" header. Force this behavior by default for not-English languages. Yes, '''force displaying wiki pages parallel to previous Taginfo interface'', but let users switch language (and disable this feature).
  3. Everything for English-speaking world stays the same, since this is main language/tagging convention, there no need in changes for GB/USA/Canada/Australia.

OpenStreetMap - yours to cut out and keep

Posted by Hawkeye on 10 November 2014 in English (English)

Globes, gores and geojson (topojson)


Been thinking about this for a while. Like maybe two years. How do you make a globe using openstreetmap data? So when I say think, I mean a quick way to hack this together using lots of other peoples hard won code.

According to what I could find, the main thing was to create 'gores' these are the name of the thin oval shapes that make up the outside edge of the classic 'orange' segments.

So I googled it a while back and found a perl script for Gimp that appeared to do the trick. At the time, it seemed very involved and I hardly knew much about writing scripts etc (although reading about again - it now seems more straight forward). So I put the idea on the back burner for a while

The next approach seemed to be using Generic Mapping tools (GMT). Which also has a way to stitch gore projections together. But the first time I attempted using GMT, I had issues installing it. Once I got it running it has a bit of a learning curve and lots of interesting file formats...After a short battle, I abandoned my attempt at trying to get it to work.

So it would be nice to do in QGIS using the proj4 library. But unfortunately, it doesn't work for gores like projections. In the business they are called 'interrupted' projections because the map is not just stretched but split into pieces. It is possible I believe to project one gore at a time and stitch together (sounds like a python script waiting to happen).

By this time, I'd spotted a javascript plugin for D3 that looked promising call d3-geo. Seriously, go there straight away and look at it. Recently a projection called 'gingery' was added. Again, go check it out.

Anyway, the d3-geo has lots of examples and it was easy to use or maybe my knowledge is somewhat more advanced now. It was possible to tweak the examples and see how they work. Although the core projection mathematics is still way out of my league. But thanks to Jason Davies and Mike Bostock who created them - absolutely amazing.

The next stage was to get some OpenStreetMap data. But that was no problem, using (thanks Jochen Topf). This gave a shapefile of the basic global land polygon using OSM. I decided to simplify this using QGIS - but this step is not really necessary. After simplifying I was left with a file called simpleworld2.shp but D3 required topojson format. So on a linux type system, first you need to installed Node.js (I had this already), then install TopoJSON:

npm install -g topojson

then using the topojson guidance I used this command

topojson -o output2.json simpleworld2.shp

Converting to topojson greatly reduces the file size. You can now reference the output2.json file within the example given on the d3-geo site.

If you want my html/javascript example, osm based world topojson file or the svg of the above image see my repo here

Now get busy with staples and glue!


p.s. looks like there are other ways using Wolfram / Mathematica/ Matlab examples.

Location: 33.578, -34.980


Posted by TARA belaqua on 10 November 2014 in English (English)

how to improve this ?

Location: PERUMNAS, Kel. Kekalik Jaya, Mataram, Kec. Sekarbela, West Nusa Tenggara, 83121, Indonesia

Only with OpenStreetMap: how Caminos de la Villa puts poor neighborhoods in Buenos Aires on the map

Posted by lxbarth on 10 November 2014 in English (English)

Attendees of State of the Map in Buenos Aires this weekend may have noticed how Buenos Aires' villas de miseria - poor precarious neighborhoods - are well mapped on OpenStreetMap.

It's a great example of how OpenStreetMap enables citizens to just create the map they need: The initiative Caminos de la Villa holds government accountable for public services in low income neighborhoods. The problem was, when the program started, Buenos Aires' villas weren't on any digital map. So the teams behind Caminos, the Argentinan technology non-profit Wingu and the social justice group ACIJ rallied a group of locals and put five villas with a total of 27,000 families on the map.

Over the course of 6 months they spent a total of three weeks tracing and surveying the five villas. The result is 638 ways and 102 points of interest added. This was tremendously useful work done in an incredibly short amount of time.

Villa 21-24 / Zavaleta in Buenos Aires before and after the Caminos de la Villa mapping initiative. Source: OpenStreetMap contributors, Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ)

Villa 21-24 / Zavaleta is Buenos Aires' biggest villa with over 40,000 inhabitants. (Mapbox / Digital Globe imagery).

Caminos de la Villa holds government accountable for public services - with OpenStreetMap.

Location: Villa 21 -24 / Zavaleta, Barracas, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, 1437, Argentina

OSMF Board voting extra statistics

Posted by Zverik on 9 November 2014 in English (English)

Richard is now counting some stats on anonymous ballots from the Board voting, and he persuaded me to publish some other, more complex stats I did on that Saturday. So, here comes.

Basic counting

Out of 219 ballots...

  • 79 (36%) have all 8 candidates ranked
  • 56 (26%) have 3 candidates
  • 23 (11%) have 4 candidates

Richard makes a smart assumption that some people didn't quite understand that one can submit any number of candidates, not one, not 3 (for number of seats) and not all 8. I submitted 4 candidates, because I had strong preference for Board members, and I believe that's the case for most of 3/4 votes. And people who filled all 8 positions maybe are not happy with a tiny chance their vote will be burned otherwise.

Every candidate has been listed at each of 8 positions in ballots (that is, there is no candidate that haven't been assigned e.g. #6 in at least one ballot).

For ballots with less than 8 positions, some of the candidates were not mentioned. Let's count number of ballots for a candidate, where he/she is not included:

  • 102 (46.6%) — Steve Coast
  • 93 (42.5%) — Ethan Nelson
  • 80 (36.5%) — Randy Meech
  • 75 (34.2%) — Marek Strassenburg-Kleciak
  • 73 (33.3%) — Paul Norman
  • 64 (29.2%) — Peter Barth
  • 54 (24.7%) — Kathleen Danielson
  • 39 (17.8%) — Frederik Ramm

So, nearly half of voters skipped Steve (I wonder why) and Ethan (probably because he is less known than others). Frederik and Kathleen wrote a lot of good, thought-provoking posts in osmf-talk, so I hope that's why everybody were voting for them.

Second places

We know Frederik Ramm got 78 first-rank votes, and 23 of them were distributed among other candidates. Whom?

  • 27 (35%) have chosen Peter Barth as the second candidate, so he got 8 of these extra votes
  • 19 (24%) have chosen Paul Norman, so he got 5.6 votes

(The rest was skipped because numbers are too small). Some of those who gave the first preference to other candidates had very strong preferences for the second place:

  • 11 of those who voted for Paul (55%) have chosen Frederik as the second
  • 12 of those who voted for Randy (52%) have chosen Kathleen as the second alternative

So it's quite clear why when Randy Meech was eliminated at round 5, Kathleen was immediately elected for the second seat at the Board.

What if...

Now, what if we didn't use STV, but went for the first preference? Here are [some of] first candidates ranks:

  • 78 (35.6%) — Frederik Ramm
  • 32 (14.6%) — Steve Coast
  • 30 (13.7%) — Kathleen Danielson
  • 23 (10.5%) — Randy Meech
  • 20 ( 9.1%) — Paul Norman

You see a bit of difference with final results (Frederik, Kathleen, Paul). So, if there were 4 seats to fill, who would take it — Steve or Randy? Guess again:

  • 4: Peter Barth
  • 5: Steve Coast
  • 6: Randy Meech
  • 7: Marek Strassenburg-Kleciak
  • 8: Ethan Nelson

The magic of STV! Of course, next preferences played a big role in the actual result. Let's see who was most often mentioned as a backup candidate:

  • 43 (19.6%) — Kathleen Danielson
  • 41 (18.7%) — Frederik Ramm
  • 35 (16.0%) — Paul Norman
  • 32 (14.6%) — Peter Barth

Here they are. Let's invent another voting system, where the first candidate gets ½ of a vote, the second — ¼ of a vote, the third — 1/8 and so on. What the results would be?

  • 52.5 — Frederik Ramm
  • 31.5 — Kathleen Danielson
  • 24.9 — Paul Norman
  • 22.9 — Peter Barth
  • 21.6 — Randy Meech
  • 20.6 — Steve Coast

This is where it gets complicated

Why the 5th and 6th candidates differ from STV results for 6 seats? That stems from placements variation. Let's find a most assigned rank for each candidate. For example, Frederik was placed first in 78 ballots, and second in 41.

  • Frederik Ramm: 1:78, 2:41
  • Peter Barth: 3:41, 2:32
  • Marek Strassenburg-Kleciak: 3:28, 4:23
  • Randy Meech: 3:24, 4:24, 1:23
  • Kathleen Danielson: 2:43, 1:30, 3:29
  • Paul Norman: 2:35, 3:34
  • Steve Coast: 8:44, 1:32
  • Ethan Nelson: 5:28, 4:25

That list is hard to read, so let's erase the ballot count:

  • Frederik Ramm: 1, 2
  • Peter Barth: 3, 2
  • Marek Strassenburg-Kleciak: 3, 4
  • Randy Meech: 3, 4, 1
  • Kathleen Danielson: 2, 1, 3
  • Paul Norman: 2, 3
  • Steve Coast: 8, 1
  • Ethan Nelson: 5, 4

Steve's positions are interesting: mostly first and last ranks. Frederik is most favored, so 1st and 2nd ranks mostly. Others float around their ranks, not deviating much. Voting results basically reflect that: Frederik, Paul and Kathleen are closest to the top ranks, with Peter following.


We haven't got permission to publish number of normal and associated OSMF members who voted and who were eligible to vote, but we can make some assumptions from the statistics and number of ballots.

  • Members: normal + associate = total
  • By October: 182 + 336 = 518
  • Eligible: ? + ? = around 300 (518 minus 218)
  • Voted: 106 + 113 = 219

So if we take number of voters for 73% of those eligible, we get following numbers (again, they are very approximate):

  • Eligible: 145 (of 182) + 155 (of 336)

Which means that nearly half of associate members are behind on their membership payment, while most of normal members pay on time. The question is, are they behind because of financial troubles, or because they don't care. If it's the former, then the new policy on associated membership fees would help a lot.

Mapillary Bike Ride in my Neighborhood

Posted by ElliottPlack on 9 November 2014 in English (English)


This week I had an off day and decided to get some exercise. It is hard for me to even think about working out anymore without also considering mapping. Ever since Strava started using OSM for its routing engine and for exercise maps, I've been motivated to use it because a) Strava is a lot of fun, and b) I like contributing back to OSM with it.

Enter Mapillary

A new player in the OSM space that I am enthusiastic about is Mapillary. Mapillary is a service / app that allows users to shoot their own street-view imagery, and use it for OSM without fear of licensing issues. The typical use would be to attach a camera to a personal automobile and shoot street-view, but it works on a bicycle as well.

Bike Mount

Since I enjoy touring around on my bike, I thought it'd be a great to get some Mapillary images at the same time! I purchased the Topeak iPhone 5 Mount and attached it to my handlebar. The Topeak mount comes with a special case, and it can hold the iPhone in practically any orientation.

Tuesday's Canton Ride

Driving around a neighborhood in a car seems boring to me, and is a waste of fossil fuel. On the other hand, exploring a neighborhood on foot or on a bike is fun and healthy. I decided that I would survey as much of my neighborhood as I could during the course of an afternoon with my Mapillary bike mount. It made for an interesting GPX track!


Seeing the track as a workout on the Strava iOS app, which uses OSM data via Mapbox to create the tiles was also cool to see:


In the end, I covered 16.5 miles without ever leaving my neighborhood, and rode in at least one direction on every street within the area I planned to survey.

Lessons Learned

Riding around on the bicycle and shooting Mapillary is fun! There are some limitations to using the iPhone app for capture though.

  1. The battery. My old iPhone battery does not last long. I brought a backup battery charger for this reason, though it did come disconnected a few times, causing me to have several segments on my trip. Luckily the app doesn't seem to lose data when the phone dies.

  2. Rolling shutter blur. Unfortunately, the iPhone camera suffers from motion blur (see below) when using it as an action cam. The a jolt from a bump in the road can cause a section of the image to look blurry. The only work around for this is to get a better action camera, or get a better action camera, like the GoPro or Garmin Virb.


Once the data is in Mapillary, it is really beneficial for mapping. Now users can view the images right in iD, as I did in the screenshot below. I have already fixed some incorrect roads in the neighborhood that I hadn't noticed before. With my images I was able to clearly see the street name, and where it ended based on the GPX.



Now get out there, get some exercise, and get mapping!

Location: Canton, Baltimore, Maryland, 21231, United States of America

Notes from SOTM 2014 - Buenos Aires

Posted by gaba on 8 November 2014 in English (English)

sotm in buenos aires - only english - not many latinoamericans


  • mapzen tile service
  • open science map
  • <- search engine coder elasticsearch & node


tools state of the art for osm


  • editor presets
  • osmantic
  • taginfo
  • osm wiki ### hints
  • osm inspector by geofabrik
  • keepright (to do pages)
  • didok
  • ### inscentives
  • maproullete, kort ### applied
  • by andy allan (osmosis, osm2p)
  • jerry clough
  • “rating openstreetmap’s completeness” by

A Game to complete OSM data



@cq94 / cquest in osm


They used mathematica to show data from osm. Geographics apara mapear los datos, hacen sql queries directamente en osm data


@kevin_bullock <— making better maps on places with ebola, polio, etc

//question: politics of privacy for releasing map data?



Location: Microcentro, San Nicolás, Buenos Aires, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, C1006ACF, Argentina

Long and possible incorrect street names in Russia?

Posted by karussell on 7 November 2014 in English (English)

I'm running world wide imports for the route planner GraphHopper and due to space savings I allow street names with a maximum length of 255 characters. This was all fine until a few months. Now I get lots of lengthy stuff in Russia - possible automated imports? What is going on there and should one fix this ugly stuff? If yes, how? I can find out the way ids if someone is interested.

E.g. the first one is here

  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Бывалки — Ширково, 66Н-0830
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Взглядье — Ивано — Гудино — Добрушино, 66Н-0806
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Сельцо, 66Н-1407
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Урубок, 66Н-1443
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Стригино, 66Н-1428
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Сельцо, 66Н-1407
  • «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Хиславичи — граница Республики Беларусь» — Владимировка, 66Н-2208
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Павлово, 66Н-0405
  • «Смоленск — Вязьма — Зубцов (участок Старой Смоленской дороги Смоленск — Вязьма)» — Тюшино — Нетризово — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Пересветово, 66Н-1049
  • «Беларусь» — от Москвы до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Минск, Брест)» — Смогири — Болдино — «Витязи — Духовщина — Белый — Нелидово», 66Н-1019
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Бояды, 66Н-1429
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Сельцо, 66Н-1407
  • «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Хиславичи — граница Республики Беларусь»— Большие Хутора, 66Н-2210
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Битюково», 66Н-0818
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Щеплево, 66Н-0809
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Щеплево, 66Н-0809
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Чемуты — Полонец, 66Н-0823
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Битюково» — Шарапово — Иванево, 66Н-0815
  • «Смоленск — Вязьма — Зубцов (участок Старой Смоленской дороги Смоленск — Вязьма)» — Тюшино — Нетризово — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Шутовка, 66Н-1010
  • «Беларусь» — от Москвы до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Минск, Брест)» — Смогири — Болдино — «Витязи — Духовщина — Белый — Нелидово», 66Н-1019
  • «Смоленск — Вязьма — Зубцов (участок Старой Смоленской дороги Смоленск — Вязьма)» — Тюшино — Нетризово — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Попково — Павлихино, 66Н-1027
  • «Беларусь» — от Москвы до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Минск, Брест)» — Смогири — Болдино — «Витязи — Духовщина — Белый — Нелидово», 66Н-1019
  • «Смоленск — Вязьма — Зубцов (участок Старой Смоленской дороги Смоленск — Вязьма)» — Тюшино — Нетризово — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Бельчевицы, 66Н-1037
  • «Смоленск — Вязьма — Зубцов (участок Старой Смоленской дороги Смоленск — Вязьма)» — Тюшино — Нетризово — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Ломейково, 66Н-1030
  • «Смоленск — Вязьма — Зубцов (участок Старой Смоленской дороги Смоленск — Вязьма)» — Тюшино — Нетризово — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Святая Яровня, 66Н-1038
  • «Смоленск — Вязьма — Зубцов (участок Старой Смоленской дороги Смоленск — Вязьма)» — Тюшино — Нетризово — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Попково — Павлихино, 66Н-1027
  • «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Ладыжино — Красильники — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)», 66Н-1526
  • «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Ладыжино — Красильники — «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Бабичи, 66Н-1527
  • «Беларусь» — от Москвы до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Минск, Брест)» — Жуково — Самолюбово» — Мазальцево — Фефелово» — Рязаново, 66Н-1877
  • «Беларусь» — от Москвы до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Минск, Брест)» — Жуково — Самолюбово — Стабна — Фефелово» —Новая Деревня, 66Н-1831
  • «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Хиславичи — граница Республики Беларусь» — Новая Рудня, 66Н-2207
  • «Беларусь» — от Москвы до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Минск, Брест)» — Жуково — Самолюбово» — Мазальцево — Фефелово» — Лаврово, 66Н-1852
  • «Беларусь» — от Москвы до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Минск, Брест)» — Жуково — Самолюбово» — Мазальцево — Фефелово» — Зыколино, 66Н-1851
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Взглядье — Ивано — Гудино — Добрушино, 66Н-0806
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Павлово» — Сивцево, 66Н-0417
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Битюково», 66Н-0818
  • «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Хиславичи — граница Республики Беларусь» — Новая Рудня» — Шатиловка, 66Н-2214
  • «Брянск — Смоленск до границы Республики Беларусь (через Рудню, на Витебск)» — Тростино — Петрополье — Хиславичи» — Думаничи — Торчиловка — Шанталово, 66Н-1418
  • «Москва — Малоярославец — Рославль до границы с Республикой Беларусь (на Бобруйск, Слуцк)» — Спас-Деменск — Ельня — Починок» — Сельцо, 66Н-1407
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Interview: Mapper of the Month (Belgium)

Posted by escada on 7 November 2014 in English (English)

The Belgian community wants to put each month another mapper in the spotlight. The reason is that OSM would not exist without mappers. This mapper receives the title "Mapper of the month" and gets the chance to herself/himself through a small interview. There are not really criteria to become a "mapper of the month", besides that you map.

On the Belgian website you can find the article in Dutch and French together with some pictures.

Since we do not have an English section (yet) and I made the translation anyway, I decided to post it here. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Mapper of the month: Ben Laenen

Ben Laenen, in OpenStreetMap known under the username Eimai (pronounce /ˈimɛ/ like the Greek word είμαι), lives in Antwerp and is in his daily life a train conductor. During his studies he became active in the FOSS-world, now already a time ago. He is for example one of the people responsible for DejaVu Fonts, one of the standard fonts in several Linux distributions. The same font is also used in the main rendering engine of OpenStreetMap, Mapnik. As such, he is also active in the Libre Graphics community, more specifically in the typographic aspects.

How and when did you discover OpenStreetMap?

Suddenly OpenStreetMap was one of the projects that got additional attention from the open source community, which I already followed because of my involvement in DejaVu Fonts. I started to map in 2007, when there was almost nothing mapped in Belgium and the OpenStreetMap community was only a handful of people. As a little boy I was already interested in all kinds of maps. I could spend hours looking at atlases and printed maps. I even drew imaginary street maps myself. OpenStreetMap must have stirred up my interest in maps again!

How do you use OpenStreetMap?

Of course I use OpenStreetMap to plan my trips on a desktop computer, and with OsmAnd on my mobile phone, in Belgium and abroad. Professionally, it comes in handy, as railway installations can have quite complex structures and mapping those structures helps me to visualize them. Of course, we have the technical plans, but a view with the exact location of the rails is also very useful.

What kind of mapper are you and where are you mapping?

Currently, I belong to the category of armchair-mappers, so mainly using aereal imagery to map. But I try to verify what I map! When I go outside, I mostly go by bike, armed with a GPS and a voice recorder. Normally I edit within Belgium, although I edit abroad as well when a trip brings me over the border.

What do you map and do you have any specialization?

In the beginning there was not much choice, we had to start with the roads. After a while, when almost all roads in Antwerp were done, I started mapping bicycle routes and later on walking routes. The latter is especially interesting, you discover new, small paths, which would otherwise remain unknown. More recently, I am working on railway infrastructures, of course influenced by my job. I have been mapping a lot of different things over the years, but never really spend time on mapping points of interest (POIs).

Why do you map? What motivates you?

Why I map, simply because it's fun! And of course because it fits in my philosophy that FOSS and open data is a step forward. However, if it was not so enjoyable, I would have done something else. It is also rewarding that you discover interesting places, even close to home, places where you have never been and did not know they existed.

Do you do other things related to OpenStreetMap?

In the beginning I participated in a lot of discussions on the mailing lists. I also contributed a lot to the OpenStreetMap wiki to define how objects have to be tagged. Since most topics that interest me, have been sorted out, I became less active. But I still have some hobbyhorses , such as the mapping of paths in Belgium.

What are your ideas about expanding the OpenStreetMap community? How can we motivate more people?

The main question is how you can attract people that have never heard of open data or open source. Most people stop looking for solutions once they encountered Google Maps. They often do not realise that alternatives exist, even those working with Google Map Maker. The only way to reach out to those people, is by increasing the visibility of OpenStreetMap in their world and in the media. Another possibility is to convince sites to use OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps, but it is almost impossible to fight against a giant with completely integrated services.

What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?

The greatest strength is also one of its greatest weaknesses: the freedom you have while mapping. When you want to put a previously unknown concept on the map, you just create your own tags, and there it is! The problem is that others might have different viewpoints and want to map it in another way. This leads to a lot of discussions.

What are the biggest challenges for OpenStreetMap?

The first challenge is to keep the data up-to-date. As a mapper you need to notice that something changes in a street before you can update it on OpenStreetMap. The possibility to add notes on is a nice new tool to allow people, who are not into mapping, to point out changes. However, several blind spots where no one takes care of the necessary updates, they do exist. The second challenge, as already hinted in the previous question, is the issue about how we can come to a world-wide consistent way of mapping.

To conclude, is there something else you want to share with the readers?

Looking back at all those years, I feel proud on what we have accomplished with OpenStreetMap. I was lucky to join the project early, and it was fascinating to see the map growing from an empty canvas to what it is now. Who knows where we will be within 10 years?

Location: Theaterbuurt, Antwerpen, Antwerp, Flanders, 2000, Belgium
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