Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

My Talk about Taiwan Related Localizated Tagging Scheme Proposed and the Experience of State of the Map Asia

Posted by Supaplex on 22 November 2016 in English (English)

It is rush decision for me to decide to go to Manila for attending State of the Map Asia. I saw there is a scholarship I could apply, so I want to talk about the situation of Taiwan community, and meet some OpenStreetMap-related company. I'm very glad I travel to the Philippine, meet some old friend like Wular, and meet the Mapbox data team in India.

Also I meet the famous Manning from the Philippine community. Mapbox team recently are relining Taiwan road network, using the new arrived Mapbox satellite image, and Strava GPS trace. I met these guys only online, finally I have a change to talk with them face-to-face, and thank them of their hard work. We discussed what is the situation in Taiwan, what we local community can do to help them.

Manning Opening

Here is my talk slide. Due to the limit time, I decrease the size of my slide and skip some event. In the following post here, I'll describe what I told during my presentation, and keep a written record.

My slide

What did Facebook effect Taiwan when using OSM data

I didn't describe well about the Facebook part, there are some people discuss of what Facebook actually do after my talk. I didn't make it about the two things Facebook do: 1 training AI to map; 2 using OSM-based map on landmark page.

Facebook landmark page

I think who is familiar with OSM and knows about OSM-related issue will learn about the first one. They knows about Facebook AI made a mistake which draw the road network again in the Egypt case, I will not write about it here due to the limit article here.

Facebook use OSM as base map on landmark page both in Japan and South Korea. The landmark data is on the hand of Facebook, and mostly are Facebook users submitted. The switch made a big wind in Taiwan. One reason is not every alley in the effect area is mapped, some people saw the not well mapped map feel it is not a good one. The other reason is most people don't know that the location of landmark is user-submitted. If one person mark the wrong location, then the data on Face will be wrong. One see the wrong landmark information and the not so detailed basemap. OSM is blamed for the wrong doing, but it's not the issue of OSM. The wrong location of landmark is an issue of Facebook.

The most exaggerated example is someone report his landmark location is wrong, and also blame the alley around his store is missed. And his usage of language is not very polite. When the user submitted response by the note report system direct from Facebook, small and serious complain rush in. Some are OSM problems, and some are Facebook problems, like the landmark location is wrong. There response including the one not so polite, did not know the response is public available, will be on the internet permanently.

Complain from Facebook user

Finally Facebook was annoyed, didn't have enough manpower to handle the complains they should handle. The basemap of Taiwan landmark pages switch to Here map, and terminate the issue for OpenStreetMap Taiwan community.

The multi-language proposed from a Chinese language user from Taiwanese

It is said that OSM could make multi-language map possible, handling the different needs of different language users need. Despite the name field for common name used by the local, we see the name filed of name:en, name:de, name:ja, name:fr, name:zh for different corresponding language name, using the alpha-2 code of ISO 639-1 name code suffix.

Although there is a possibility for multi-language name tagging on OSM, the scheme standard should be discussed first. In the current OSM tagging scheme, the use of name:zh for Chinese language is not enough, not covering the people using Traditional and Simplified Chinese. There should be tagging scheme for Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese correspondingly.

And there is a big problems, for the area using Chinese like China and Taiwan, which one Chinese is Chinese, could use the name:zh field, the Chinese used in Taiwan, or the Chinese used in China? Which one Chinese is Chinese?

So the OpenStreetMap Taiwan community member Rex draw up the language name tag according to IETF language tag (BCP 47). The draft including the area using Chinese, like Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Chinese name tag proposed

For Taiwan and China, using Traditional and Simplified Chinese separately, using the corresponded Chinese in name:zh field is not a problem. But for area outside these Chinese using area, the Chinese name of some place are totally different, not just the different of Traditional and Simplified Chinese characters. For example Mt. Everest, the name in Taiwan Chinese is 聖母峰(Shengmu Feng, literally means Holy Mother Peak), the name in China Chinese is 珠穆朗玛峰(Chomolungma).

It seems that Mr. Everest is far away for the Filipinos, the response was not strong during my talk. I should use the well known Filipino names or tourist attraction, like Mindanao or Bohol. These two places name in Taiwan and China Chinese:

  • English Taiwan Traditional Chinese China Simplified Chinese
  • Mindanao 民答那峨 棉兰老
  • Bohol 薄荷 保和

This shows that despite the different character set of Taiwan and China, there is also different in customs translating terms, will effect the OSM localization and user experience.

Despite the Chinese name scheme, the draft will also deal with the name scheme of Formosa Language used Taiwan Aboriginal, which belongs to Austronesian language family. When OSM spreed in Taiwan, there was discussion about the Taiwan Aboriginal language prefix, also including in the draft.

Tagging for the Formosan language of Taiwan Aborigines

In the long term for the OpenStreetMap Taiwan community, we wish the developer using OSM data could progressively adapt the name scheme dealing with the different Chinese use case. And finally it could fix the different Chinese character and terms issues. Bringing more customized and localized user experience for different users. When the OpenStreetMap Taiwan community finalize the draft into a standard scheme, we might notify map app developer who use OSM data, wish them adapt for the scheme.

The tagging of place of worship is totally different from Europe and America mainstream religion

For the religion tag use now, there are different tag use for Buddhism, Christian, Cathedral, Taoism, and Muslim. But the religion tags do not represent Taiwan religion and folklore religion very well. The standard makes confusing. There are very temple in Taiwan are mainly focus on historical figures, so distinguish they belong to different religion do not make sense at all. It should focus more on which deity the place is worshiped.

When I was young I learned that using the last word of a temple to distinguish the temple is a Buddhism or Taoism place, the xx 宮 is a Taoism temple, and the xx寺 is a Buddhism temple. I used this standard to tag temple for awhile. But studying the religious issue in Taiwan, I found out that is not very precisely. It is more accurate and making sense to distinguish by the main deity in the place of worship worshiped.

Taiwan traditional religion tagging

So Rex proposed the draft for the traditional Taiwan forklore religion scheme. By proposing a new draft standard for the face of multivariate Taiwan religion and denomination, we could fix the issue we talk about, and fix the different and disorder standard use currently in OSM. Despite we should distinguish by the main deity in the temple, we should independently draft a new Taiwan traditional folklore religion tag. We have an example to explain below:

Traditional Han people religion:

  • religion=folk
  • denomination=TaiwaneseFolkReligion

For non-Han people religion, like Siraya people Aritt's Kuwa:

  • religion=folk
  • denomination=SirayaFolkReligion

The temple tagging example:

Tzihua Temple (should be tag according to the operating mode of the temple) * religion=folk * denomination=TaiwaneseFolkReligion * dedication:principal=瑤池金母 * dedication:principal:wikidata=Q1064059

Another tagging problem

There are another problem like the iD interface for address field, will be fix when the release of iD 2.0. When the iD was release, the address field is in English address mode, not suitable for Chinese address.

I mentioned Mapbox team relining Taiwan road network according to the data of Strava GPS trace and the new Mapbox Satellite image. I talked with the Mapbox team very deeply. We met first on the online platform, discussing about how to handle Taiwan road network. It was a very unique experience for me to meet the web pal on line, just like meet someone face-to-face I know online for the first time.

Mapbox works

I also had a chance to meet CEO Eugene, and exchange view about OSM. When his talk, he mentioned OSM needs light contributor, to bring more local information like stores. So there is a need for an App that could add information very easy. I told him there was very unique way from a user: despite adding store name, he also added $ symbol for the price range, $$$$ for very expensive, and $ for very cheap. I have to say that the price range is very important information, but how to handle in OSM database is a problem.

Eugene talk from Mapbox

Eugene said in the future release of app, they will add a function to edit the road name. It is a very important information for the local and big crowd of user, and they can add the basic and fundamental information. I agree with his point about the importance of adding road name.

Looking forward for the conference in Nepal

Nama said he was annoyed by everyone ask him about the Nepal earthquake experience. He kept invite to talk about the crisis mapping in Nepal earthquake, even this time of State of the Map Asia. It is time to record the experience by a conference in Nepal, otherwise it will be forgotten. Another factor is many important figures could make it very easy to talk about the experience aboard. The next year 2017, there is a high possible of State of the Map Asia hold in Nepal. Nama said he will invite everybody for the conference, and could arrange climbing Himalaya mountain.

Nama talk

Although it is just a 2 hours flight, most Taiwanese won't head south. Most Taiwanese will choose to flight North to more familiar Japan. If the conference organizer not invite me this time, I would not travel south to the neighborhood country the Philippine. Despite the experience to talk with other attendees, I also had a deep experience of the local Philippine culture. I'm very appricate of the arrangement from the organizers, and very happy to share my experience of Taiwan community.

Location: Xavierville III, Loyola Heights, Quezon City Circle, District III, Quezon City, Metro Manila, 1108, Philippines

A software tool for accurate assessment of costs and CO2 emissions in wood transport using OpenStreetMap©

Posted by VSONCLOUD on 22 November 2016 in English (English)

Costs and environmental impacts are key elements in forest logistics and they must be integrated in forest decision-making. The evaluation of transportation fuel costs and carbon emissions depend on spatial and non-spatial data but in many cases the former type of data are difficult to obtain. On the other hand, the availability of software tools to evaluate transportation fuel consumption as well as costs and emissions of carbon dioxide is limited. We developed a software tool that combines two empirically validated models of truck transportation using Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data and an open spatial data tool, specifically OpenStreetMap©. The tool generates tabular data and spatial outputs (maps) with information regarding fuel consumption, cost and CO2 emissions for four types of trucks. It also generates maps of the distribution of transport performance indicators (relation between beeline and real road distances). These outputs can be easily included in forest decision-making support systems. Finally, in this work we applied the tool in a particular case of forest logistics in north-eastern Portugal.

Cite: Pérez-Rodríguez, F., Nunes, L., Azevedo, J.C. (2016) A SOFTWARE TOOL FOR ACCURATE ASSESSMENT OF COSTS AND CO2 EMISSIONS IN WOOD TRANSPORT USING OpenStreetMap©. Math. Comput. For. Nat. Resour. Sci., 8 (1): pp. 35–53.

Link to complete article

My talk for State of the Map 2016: Building large-scale crowdsourcing communities with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Posted by dekstop on 21 November 2016 in English (English)

I just saw that the video for my SotM16 talk has already been online for a month... many thanks to the organisers and video team in Brussels for making this happen so quickly, and in such a high quality! You can find some summary notes further below, along with recommendations to HOT organisers.

The recording: Youtube: Building large-scale crowdsourcing communities with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

You can get the slides here: Slides: Building large-scale crowdsourcing communities with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

(This was recorded at the tail end of an unusually busy summer, after a couple of weeks of deadlines on little sleep, in a morning slot, with little time for rehearsal... throughout these short 30 mins I really, really wanted to go back to bed. If you know me a little you might notice it in the recording, everyone else may simply think I'm a little slow :)

Among the key observations to date

The talk summarises much of my research to date. It includes updated statistics and visualisations, and the results of three studies of HOT community engagement.

Over the course of this work, I've stopped thinking about community engagement as a process of "converting" people. Instead I now also think of it as a process of discovering and activating the right people: many of our most prolific contributors were already prepared to be engaged. Maybe they were looking for community, for a spare-time activity that has a bigger impact than just watching TV; maybe they already had some GIS experience and didn't know they can use it for a social purpose. In this sense, fostering community engagement is as much about the initial recruiting process as it is about the actual contribution process.

Among the key observations to date:

  • HOT is now a key source of community growth for OSM: among the 32,000 HOT contributors to date, 80% are newcomers to OpenStreetMap! (I have not yet investigated whether they then also contribute to other parts of the map.)
  • Over their contributor lifetime, 50% of HOT mappers dedicate at least 65 minutes to their contributions. This may sound like a small average for a volunteering organisation, but for an online platform it's a massive achievement.
  • Emergency response events can also be key recruiting moments: during HOT activations for Typhoon Haiyan, the Nepal earthquake in 2015, the earthquake in Ecuador in 2016, and others, many new volunteers joined HOT.
  • ... and much, much more.

Recommendations to organisers

In the talk I also make some recommendations to HOT organisers, based on study findings, and informed by my interactions with the wider community:

  • During large disaster events, carefully manage the tasking manager task listing. People who join during these events don't tend to stay active for long, and their contributions tend to have a lower quality. Point them towards newcomer-friendly projects where they can make some early experiences.
  • At the same time, HOT can likely benefit greatly from a notification mechanism for contributors who are interested in future campaigns. Currently there is no good means of reactivating mappers who have already made some early experiences. Instead we rely on our volunteers to discover new campaigns on the mailing list or on social media. While this may work for the core community, there is likely a larger number of mappers who may be willing to help out again. How can we best inform them when they're needed?
  • Generally, try to connect newcomers to the existing community as soon as possible, and do so in a setting that is appropriate for absolute beginners. The mailing list works well for a few hundred core contributors. Yet as we grow, is it still the best default location for a newcomer who has a question for an expert?

Homemade globe

Posted by Skippern on 21 November 2016 in English (English)


My son have just completed a globe based on Sérgio's map. Still some minor flows in our work process, but watching how he enjoyed it, and how satisfied he was with the result, I guess there will be more of these. Probably need to look into thicker paper, and a more suitable glue. First round kept my kids busy for one weekend. I had to interact at several stages, i.e., he needed help with the outline of Russia and Canada, he was not sure he was able to cut the lines himself, and with the glue we used, I had to do the gluing while he watched.

Location: Parque Areia Preta, Centro, Guarapari, Microrregião Guarapari, Greater Vitória, Mesorregião Central Espírito-Santense, Espírito Santo, Southeast Region, 29200260, Brazil

Time to cleanup the wikipedia:xx tags?

Posted by PlaneMad on 21 November 2016 in English (English)

There are over 40,000 features with old style wikipedia:lang=* tags that need to be migrated to the more popular wikipedia=lang:* format. Should this just be a mechanical edit? Or should we have a worldwide campaign of community members checking each and every one?

screenshot 2016-11-21 11 48 22



Looked into the features with wikipedia:ru and the majority seem to be place nodes in Ukraine. Around 28k of them already have a wikipedia (mostly Ukranian) tag, so maybe migrating them may really not have any added benefit.

So the question now is, if its better now to discard the wikipedia and wikipedia:lang tags and just have a wikidata tag? What information would we lose?

screenshot 2016-11-21 14 47 22

App wanted: Collect opening hours by place automatically, and easier user notes

Posted by CloCkWeRX on 21 November 2016 in English (English)

Right now I am sitting very close to a place in Adelaide - San Churro. I know its mapped, at least with name.

However if I search for "openstreetmap san churro", I see:

  • Very rich data on opening hours (google), how long people spend at a location
  • A business listing and map (google)
  • A prompt to claim this business (google)

Contextually, my android phone already knows where I am so is potentially limiting the search to nearby businesses.

Previously I've been keen on a foursquare 'checkin' app to write to OSM and ask smart questions, as well as RDFa/ markup to render useful results.

I'd like to go further and throw out a few feature requests with a bounty attached ($100 AUD each):

  • On android or ios, add a plugin to Owntracks to allow check-in to an Openstreetmap location, publishing Lat/Lon, OSM id or new place name(suitable for a note)
  • A way to connect to an Owntracks/Mqtt server and match user location/time to a 30 minute time slot (ie: indicating a likely valid opening hour)
  • A public owntracks server for interested OSM users (worldwide? Or just country based)?
  • An owntracks plugin for OSMand.

A Good Walk, Mapping

Posted by alexkemp on 20 November 2016 in English (English)

To distract me from the difficulties of mapping the houses within Manderley (a recent development of £400,000 GBP houses ($494,000 USD, €467,000 Euro), half of which do not yet appear on Bing) here is a useless challenge for you:–

Find the Tree Rat

Non-golfers are warned of the danger of death from hi-speed golf-balls, and therefore not to trespass on to Mapperley Golf course. However, I walked all around the perimeter of the course, and took pictures every few seconds the whole way. At one point I came across some of the local wildlife; it tried to hide from me but I did manage to get a single frame with it in view.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to (virtually) walk the perimeter of the Golf Course. As a virtual walk protective head-, elbow- & knee-gear are optional.

So, starting at the first frame of the walk, find the tree rat (sorry, squirrel). Be warned that the only way I could get it in shot was to photograph from a distance, so it is small & well blended in with the tree trunk as it rushes to get away from me. If you reach the houses then you have missed it (although the walk continues after the houses are mapped until we reach the clubhouse).

Golf:– a good walk, spoiled

words — wrongly — attributed to Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

After surveying the desert of Manderley — it was midday Wednesday, 16 November & the place was almost entirely devoid of human life — I walked clockwise around Mapperley Golf course starting at the traffic lights at the top of Arnold Lane (having bought Pink Floyd's single + LP as a young man I love that road just for it's name), passing through Digby Park along the way (check out the Alphabetical Arboretum if you think that you can identify every tree & bush from it's leaves) & finishing at Mapperley Golf Club-house. The Golf Course is full of dire signs warning walkers of imminent death, so the walk does not dare trespass upon the course but instead circumnavigates the perimeter.

It is late autumn, far too warm for the season & too many leaves on the trees. There are many fine views across the golf course from the walk. Here is one; you can spot the Manderley houses at the top right-hand side:–

gedling golf course

The land is owned by Gedling Borough Council but run as a golf course by a private body, so there is a small chance that it will not be redeveloped in the next 10 years (I bet that they have talked about it).

All the land south of Plains Road was probably originally owned by the Digby Coal Company, who operated Gedling 1 & 2 until 1937 (Top Hard, Main Bright & High Hazels seams), when it was taken over by B.A. Collieries, Ltd., then nationalised in 1947. I was told by a householder early in my walk, shortly after the Mapperley Top shops, that his land was originally purchased in 1934 from Digby. That becomes even more clear as you pass the Colliery football & cricket pitches.

Gedling Shafts were finally closed in 1991, even though in 1980 it was said to have a “long-term future”. Thanks, Maggie. This is a Nottingham Evening Post picture of the Gedling Headstocks:–

gedling colliery headstocks

...and these are the spoilheaps today from the other side of Arnold Lane (the council is planning to redevelop those green hills (pdf)):–

gedling pit land


This is the squirrel-frame, if you cannot find it.

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

Currently working on...

Posted by jpennycook on 20 November 2016 in English (English)

I'm currently working on corridors for walking and cycling:- 1. North/northwest of Peterborough, cycle routes to avoid the A15 2. Reading/Wokingham/Bracknell/Ascot, including the proposed route of the NCN422 3. Farnborough/Frimley/Camberley to Bagshot/Lightwater/Woking

I've got about 3 months worth of backlog data

Serving Vector Tiles

Posted by pnorman on 20 November 2016 in English (English)

This is a repost from my blog because there's been a fair amount of interest from OSM people on what I wrote.

If you want to serve vector tiles, there are a few server options that have developed, each with different strengths and weaknesses.

node-mapnik based

Language: nodejs
Layer definitions: Mapnik layer definitions in XML, typically preprocessed from YAML
Vector tile formats: Mapbox Vector Tiles
Data source support: PostGIS

Kartotherian, tessera, and other servers based on tilelive all rely on Node bindings to Mapnik to produce vector tiles. They all work with Mapnik layer definitions. This is a reasonably well understood language and consists primarily of a SQL statement for each layer. This is reasonably flexable and it's possible to do proper code review, git conflict resolution, and other processes you need with an open style.

Some servers can turn the Mapbox Vector Tiles into GeoJSON, but not all do. There are other minor differences, but they all have the same major advantages and disadvantages.

The biggest problem with these options is that you have to either use the exact same versions of everything as the Mapbox developers while hoping their changes work with your code, or lock down your versions to a set of known good versions and periodically update when you need new features, retesting all your code. Neither of these is practical for an open-source style which wants to involve others.

If you don’t do this, you’ll find parts of your server failing with different combinations of Mapnik and node-mapnik.

Tilezen tileserver

Language: Python
Layer definitions: SQL in jinja2 templates, YAML
Vector tile formats: Mapbox Vector Tiles, TopoJSON, and GeoJSON
Data source support: PostGIS

Tilezen tileserver was written by Mapzen to replace their TileStache-based vector tile generation. Having been written by developers who wrote previous vector tile servers, it combines ideas and functionality other options don't have.

The datasource definitions are written in SQL + YAML, a common choice, but unlike other options, the SQL is in its own files which are preprocessed by the jinja2 templating engine. This adds some complexity, but a great deal of power. Selecting different features by zoom level normally requires repetative SQL and lengthy UNION ALL queries, but the preprocessing allows queries to be written more naturally.

Tileserver's unique feature is the post-processing capabilities it offers. This allows vector tiles to be operated on after the database, altering geometries, changing attributes, and combining geometries. Post-processing to reduce size is a necessary feature if targeting mobile devices on slower connections. Mapbox had been working on this in the open, but now that they no longer use node-mapnik it's not clear how they do so. MapQuest had developed Avecado to specifically target this, but it became abandoned when they stopped doing their own map serving.

You don't need any AWS services for a basic Tilezen tileserver deployment, but there might be some dependencies in the more advanced features needed to set up a full production environment.


Language: Go
Layer definitions: SQL in TOML
Vector tile formats: Mapbox Vector Tiles
Data source support: PostGIS

Tegola is a new server written in Go. It operates with multiple providers which supply layers to maps, allowing them to be assembled different ways. It looks like it has most of the features needed for vector tiles for a basemap, but might be missing a few needed for changing data as zoom changes.

SQL in TOML is similar to SQL in YAML for layer definitions, and like this it is reasonably flexable and makes it possible to do proper code review, git conflict resolution, and other processes you need with an open style.

I haven't had a chance to deploy it yet, so I'm not sure what difficulties there are.


Language: Rust
Layer definitions: SQL in TOML
Vector tile formats: Mapbox Vector Tiles
Data source support: PostGIS

t-rex is a new server written in Rust. It's unique feature it that it can auto-configure layers from PostGIS tables. It does have all the required features for selecting appropriate data in a basemap.

It's layer definitions are different than Tegola's, but they are both SQL in TOML, and share the same strengths.

Like Tegola, I haven't had a chance to deploy it.


Language: Python
Layer definitions: SQL in JSON Vector tile formats: Mapbox Vector Tiles, TopoJSON, GeoJSON, and Arc GeoServices JSON Data source support: PostGIS

TileStache is a general-purpose tile server which Mapzen used to use a fork of to serve their Tilezen schema. They've switched to Tilezen tileserver, but the functionality they added has been merged back into TileStache. Unfortunately, the documentation hasn't caught up yet, so there's not too much information about all of its functionality.

Deploying TileStache tends to be reasonable - particularly compared to node-mapnik - but the language of SQL in JSON is one that's a problem for open projects with multiple authors and prevents proper code review and git conflict resolution.


Language: C++
Layer definitions: Lua
Vector tile formats: Mapbox Vector Tiles
Data source support: OSM PBF and shapefiles

Tilemaker is built around the idea of vector tiles without a serving stack. It does this by doing an in-memory conversion directly from OSM PBF data to pre-generated vector tiles, which can then be served using Apache, a S3 bucket, or any means of serving files from disk. This vastly simplifies deployment and reduces sources of downtime.

For serving a city or most countries this can be the ideal method, but the same strengths that make it good for this are a problem for processing the planet. It takes large amounts of RAM, can’t consume minutely changes, and has to create vector tiles for the entire PBF at once.

Tilemaker is also the only server to support directly using shapefiles for low zoom data and OSM for high zoom. Other options require loading into PostGIS and using SQL that selects the appropriate data based on zoom.


Language: Python
Layer definitions: osmfilter options
Vector tile formats: o5m
Data source support: OSM PBF and other raw OSM data

VectorTileCreator is part of KDE Marble and takes the unique approach of creating tiles of raw OSM data. It uses osmfilter's language for filtering OSM data, but lacks the means to use other data sources, something most maps will need. The support of o5m vector tiles is also limited. Like tilemaker it runs from the command line and produces a set of vector tiles.

Which should I use?

What you should use depends on your needs. First figure out what support you need for the full planet, updates, data sources, and output formats. If you need diff update support, then you need something that can create a single vector tile and Tilemaker won't work. If you need TopoJSON support, node-mapnik won't work.

For a table showing features supported, see the original blog post

Location: Uptown, New Westminster, Greater Vancouver Regional District, British Columbia, Canada

On the corner of $FIRSTNAME and $LASTNAME

Posted by scruss on 19 November 2016 in English (English)

My name is a problem. Not merely is my first name often misspelled (and, where I now live, almost universally mispronounced) it's often assumed to be my family name. While it's pretty common for Scottish guys to go by their middle name, since they'll often have the same first name as their father¹, my first name really is my given name. It's just my luck that my family name is more common as a first name. Also, my name is really long; with my middle name, it's too long for Canada's ID system, so I have an “official” name² that's my real name minus a letter or two. I should just add LLC on the end and be my own legal partnership. Hence, it's a lot easier to go by my nickname.

A friend's rather odd quest to see how many of his Facebook friends had their names mentioned in Milwaukee streets led to me creating a list derived from OSM data³ for him. That got me wondering further: is there a city in the world where Stewart Street/Road/Avenue/… intersects with Russell Road/Street/Avenue/…?

Before I get preemptively banned from Overpass Turbo for life for thinking up the most futile way to heat up a server, I'll probably never do this. If I did, I should probably just look in New Zealand⁴, because it often seems — in place names, at least — to be more Scottish than Scotland.

¹: This can make lowland Scottish genealogy an interesting challenge. I think I've got something like five consecutive generations of Roberts marrying Agneses in my ancestry; imaginative we ain't. I do have to keep reminding myself that my lot were the ones who didn't have the get-up-and-go to become hillbillies.

²: no, I'm not getting all Freemen-on-the-Land nonsense on you here. Just in case you were getting worried.

³: it's here, along with instructions on how I did it: Milwaukee Street Names from OSM for Jeff

⁴: My ancestry does have a slightly more Highland branch, of whom I've written here before. My grandfather remembered his grandmother describing seeing the boats leaving to take the Stewarts of Appin to New Zealand during the Clearances.

Location: Bay View, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States of America

Dandot RS ڈنڈوٹ آر ایس

Posted by Dandot RS Dalmian on 19 November 2016 in English (English)

Dandot RS (Urdu ڈنڈوٹ آر ایس) is a village, union council, and administrative subdivision of Jhelum District (Urdu جہلم) in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. It is part of Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil.

Location: Dandot RS NCI Man RD, Dandot RS ڈنڈوت آر ا یس, Sargodha District, Punjab, Pakistan

A Tale of 4 Seasons

Posted by alexkemp on 18 November 2016 in English (English)

Test out your detection faculties: what is wrong with this picture of the 4 Seasons?

3 Seasons

It was shot last Wednesday with the kind permission of the householder on Plains Road, Mapperley. Try to ignore the fact that the camera is within a cheap smartphone & that the operator still does not know how to manually control the contrast whilst mapping.

The answer, of course, is that one of the Seasons is missing (stolen!).

Although they look like marble, they are in fact made of fibreglass, and are thus nice & light. That is exactly what some youths discovered many years ago when first put in place, just before those youths absconded with the statues. The police discovered the abductors, but only three of the Seasons. The statues returned are now concreted into position (whilst they yearn & mourn for their sister, of course).

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

Progress Report: Railway Crossings challenge for MapRoulette

Posted by MikeN on 18 November 2016 in English (English)

As previously mentioned in diary entry , the MapRoulette Rail challenge uses topological analysis of the rail network to generate the task list. Many tasks land on a multi-track crossing or include a rail yard, so many tasks correct fix more than 1 crossing per edit session. Also, anyone routinely reviewing an area might correct rail crossings outside of MapRoulette By re-analyzing current OSM data, finished tasks were marked off. Some findings for the last interval:

  • 1221 tasks marked complete in Map Roulette
  • 5468 tasks auto-marked complete after detection as fixed
  • 4.5:1 node correction per task ratio
  • Overall topological rail challenge 16% complete 10925 / 68758 tasks

Because the first MapRoulette tasks are more likely to land on in a 'busy' area, future fix rates and node correction to task ratio will probably fall as each task is more likely to point to an isolated crossing.

Many tasks end up making geometric corrections to the rails and surrounding roads.

The links to these challenges are:

[Crossing Ways: Highway-Railway, US]

[Crossing Ways: Pedestrian-Railway, US]

[Crossing Type: Highway-Railway, US]

[Crossing Type: Pedestrian-Railway, US]

There was a moment of panic as the analysis also discovered thousands of new tasks! This had 2 causes:

  • An abandoned rail line / cycle trail was changed to be a railway. I have commented on that changeset asking for more information.
  • A node from changeset was moved across the country near the following changeset in JOSM. From a history examination, I'm not sure if the rail node was attached to Benton Street. Maybe there is a JOSM hotkey that does this. To try to avoid this in the future, I have changed MapRoulette to open JOSM in a new layer.

: )

Posted by PlaneMad on 18 November 2016 in English (English)

Special shoutout to Undearius and LogicalViolinist for their efforts in improving Wikidata coverage in Africa and for bringing a smile to the face of the Sahara.

Some trivia, the Sahara is not all endless sand dunes, one can chance upon some oases and also some potential mappers. Something to lookout for on your next trip there.

CC-by-sa TASSINE Ilyas

Sahara Race CC-by-sa Jon Doe

Global heatmap of HOT contributions, Sept 2016 (with high-res download)

Posted by dekstop on 18 November 2016 in English (English)

The visualisation below shows the regions of the world where the HOT community has contributed edits to OSM, which is one way in which we can show the impact of our community. The chart visualises contributions before 23rd Sept 2016. By this date, 32,000 people had contributed at least one edit, accounting for a total of 182,000,000 edits. This took an estimated 240,000 labour hours.

As mentioned before, I've been showing the visualisation in talks for a while now, and I regularly receive messages by people who would like to use it for their own slides, for mapathons and training sessions, and other uses.

A global map of HOT contributions

There is also a PDF version (11MB), a high-resolution PNG (1.3MB), and a folder with older versions if you want to do a visual comparison of map growth. Send me an email if you would prefer a version without annotations -- I simply ask that you provide credit when you're using it.

(Despite my best efforts I've not yet managed to make to switch to the Robinson projection, as recommended by BushmanK... the QGIS renderer acts up every time I try changing the projection string. I'm probably simply doing something wrong.)

A Tale of 2 Houses

Posted by alexkemp on 18 November 2016 in English (English)

86 + 92 Plains Road, Mapperley NG3, UK

  • Q: What's almost as good as a Green Field to a Housing Developer?
  • A: A single house on a large green site at the edge of town close to shops & schools

Here is the view between two houses positioned 100 yards up the road from these two properties to try to underline why developers want to build there (the view is of Mapperley Golf Course, shot on Wednesday 16 Nov on a classic sunshine-&-showers English day):

enjoy it whilst you can

Finally, my mapping gets me (almost) to the Ultima Thule (the lands beyond the suburbs of Mapperley & Gedling) (‘Ultima Thule’ was a bookshop in my University town of Newcastle Upon Tyne, and the name was explained to me as meaning “the unknown, unmapped, dangerous realms beyond the civilised world”) (or, Gateshead). Finally, my photos can begin to show not just bricks & tarmac but trees & mud. Excellent.

One of the tales that has repetitively turned up during the mapping has been of naked greed, initiated in the 19th Century whilst satisfying Nottingham folks’ need for housing as the people exploded out from the ¼-mile square (0.032 km²) of the old town into what were then entirely green fields (more surrounding info within Nottingham Suburban Railway, Part 2).

The two houses referred to in this Diary entry are a contrast in outcomes: the first (number 86) is a classic of thwarted desire (with many similarities to the tale in Resistance is Futile 2), whilst the second’s site (number 92) was last Wednesday full of houses halfway to completion.

Both houses are shown on the current Google & Bing satellite imagery (Bing is 10/1/2011-3/26/2012), but in fact each house has been demolished. Local intel is that num86 was bought (24 Oct 2008, £250,000 GBP) & planning permission sought for development. The buildings were demolished & that turned out to be a big mistake as permission was denied (pdf) (2013) — some neighbours, including reportedly Gedling Cricket Club — were against the development. The plot is situated down a long private road, and the traffic could have become intolerable (although reading the PDFs traffic is never mentioned).

Such an outcome would have been hard to take for the owner of num86, but try to imagine the gall of seeing the nearby development of 92 become successful (pdf).

This corner of land bordered by Plains Road & Arnold Road is a recent hive of activity (and very much more is planned - see the Coda at the bottom). The front of plot of 96 Plains Road has been converted into 4 x 3-storey apartment blocks and permission to redevelop (pdf) the rest of the plot, including demolishing the farmhouse, has recently been given, whilst the green field originally at the corner has been developed into a parking lot (sorry, I mean 3 streets of highly desirable apartments + houses suitable for young families).

Reading through the Gedling Planning Department PDFs (as linked above) is mighty puzzling, and I can well believe that developers must find themselves banging their heads against the nearest wall at some of the decisions. Number 92 originally wanted 10 retirement bungalows on the site (2004) but it was turned down. So, they re-applied for 2 x 3-storey apartments giving 20 flats, and were turned down (pdf) (2004). They finally got lucky with 5 detached houses (pdf) (2015). Number 86 applied for a single, 3-storey 8 bedroom house (on a similar-sized plot) was told that it would be “unduly bulky & out of keeping with the character of the area” (2013), then (completely destroying the neat end to this story) in 2016 was accepted for “2 detached dwellings”. A hundred yards or so from these new houses are six or seven recently-built 3-storey apartment blocks. What makes those ‘in character’ is difficult to know. (Just to be clear, I have zero personal connection with any of these developments).

So, we have a picturesque corner of Nottinghamshire hills, with folks desperate for homes with views of those hills. Developers eagerly pocket the cash to satisfy those demands, and the new homeowners find that all they can now see is their neighbours’ brick walls. An old story, of course.

Coda 1: Planning & Development (CIL EX12)

Students of Local Government, residents that live north of Papplewick Lane & anyone mapping in the vicinity of Arnold Lane (that's just me, then) will be transfixed by 6 March 2015 CIL EX12 (pdf). There are lots & lots of interesting things in it if you live local (the Tesco that I use was going to double it's floorspace, but has changed it's mind) but for everyone section 3 (“Residential Viability Appraisal”) should be an eye-opener, as it shows the spreadsheet that Local Government uses when appraising development costs, including the balance of Market & Affordable Housing, and actual fee percentages used (with VIABILITY MARGIN as the bottom line). Absolutely fascinating. And particularly when you realise that it is talking about a plan to develop the (currently green hills on the) other side of Arnold Lane.

Coda 2: More Reasons for Developers to Build

The houses either side of the view at top are reported to have sold (pdf) from the builder for £400,000 GBP each ($494,000 USD, €467,000 Euro).

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

Weekly roundup - common errors and unexplained edits observed

Posted by nammala on 18 November 2016 in English (English)

Here are the few observations from the OpenStreetMap edits between 24 October - 11 November.


  • Bad imports: changeset 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Deleted roads: changeset
  • Deleted natural=wood: changeset
  • Deleted existing buildings: changeset 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Adding fictional data: changeset 1, 2
  • Adding buildings overlapping with highways: changeset
  • Changeset comment mentioning google: changeset
  • Deleted river: changeset
  • Added improper data: changeset
  • Deleted relevant information in neighborhood: changeset 1, 2

Community members commented on the following changesets:

These were some of the inconstant data for this week. Do keep an eye of the bad edits and comment on those changesets, which will make us maintain the quality of data in OpenStreetMap.

Look forward for another roundup next week.

Map development

Posted by Skippern on 17 November 2016 in English (English)

Data sources are becoming so detailed, and the community are still growing, this results in even more spectacular data on the map.

Just take a look, Mapillary coverage allows for a lot of details to be added, such as several shops, bars, banks, restaurants, fast-food places, are easily identified and added. Combining Bing, MapBox and other sources of vertical images allows us to draw buildings, and combining these buildings with Mapillary, we can add information allowing for spectacular 3D rendering (see here and here for 3D examples).

Also, the renewal of the public transport license resulted in data about bus routes being released, unfortunately, the data set was not complete, so some surveying will still be needed to complete the datas, but for now, something is available here.

The surrounding land have been covered with woods, meadows, farmlands, marches, mangrove, and more.

All in all, the map is developing quickly, just 8 years ago, this was a clean sheet.

Location: Parque Areia Preta, Centro, Guarapari, Microrregião Guarapari, Greater Vitória, Mesorregião Central Espírito-Santense, Espírito Santo, Southeast Region, 29200260, Brazil


Posted by Alex Myczko on 17 November 2016 in English (English)

Although I haven't mapped a lot of airfield (airport) data, I am using OSM (with Leaflet and Stamen) in a web app trying to show all ICAO airports. Feel free to try,

Buildings vs. man-made structures

Posted by BushmanK on 16 November 2016 in English (English)

Reading a pretty long discussion of tagging the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, it surprises me, how unclear our Wiki documentation still is. The main controversy there is about (not) using building=* tags for individual parts of the memorial installation. For those, who are not familiar with this memorial, it mainly consists of rectangular monoliths (stelae) of different height, arranged in rows.

It has been mentioned in that discussion, that current convention about a qualifying feature for using building=* is a presence of room inside the structure (I'd add, that it also applies to "parent structure", since we still have building=entrance in use), so people can come in and stay inside it, and it's the purpose of this structure.

Sometimes, it could be an extreme case, like building=roof, where we usually have an open space under the roof instead of an isolated space, forming a room. But unfortunately, both Buildings article and Key:building have almost zero information on this particular topic.

I mean, come on, guys, building=* is among the top tags by usage and it is often misused, but there is no more or less clear definition of it in English documentation. In Russian documentation, due to widespread legal nihilism, we have the first paragraph of the RU:Здания (Russian version of Buildings article) that gives a definition of the term "building" for awhile. German article has a bit shorter explanation as well. English version says something about a couple of special cases (houseboats, for example), but gives no general picture, like if it were obvious. No, it is not, especially in OSM, where terms quite often have own special meaning and definition.

Personally, I don't see any issue with adding something like that to the English article by myself, except I'm obviously not a native English speaker and my English is American (I had an experience of complaints from a couple of Britons regarding of that).

I think, it is important to tell about the qualifying features and about the fact that building=* does not really create a contradiction with man_made=* because, for example, large TV transmission towers or lighthouses often have pretty much space inside, and it is intended to be a workspace for people.

Getting back to the Holocaust memorial, obviously, those stelae are neither buildings nor man-made structures in terms of current tagging schemes. These are historic=memorial memorial=stele or, better, historic=memorial memorial:type=stele objects, while there is still no definite way to tag complex memorial installations in details. Personally, I'd propose something like using historic=memorial for the whole boundary of memorial and corresponding memorial:type=* for the outlines of each particular part of it, since there are memorial complices consisting of multiple stelae, statues, plaques and obelisks within a certain boundary.

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