Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

Website for asking to improve just one area in OpenStreetMap (or paying for improvement)

Posted by karussell on 2 December 2014 in English (English)

I know that HOT and other community processes improve exactly one area and I also know that paying people for OSM could be seen strange under certain circumstances.

But sometimes there is a need for a company which wants to improve exactly one area. E.g. to make self driving cars less dangerous with OSM data in one area or showcasing an OSM based application in the companies its district or whatever.

So, is there a website, company or process where one could ask for such specific area improvements for OSM? And what problems you see if there would be such a solution?

Belgium: Mapper of the Month December 2014

Posted by escada on 2 December 2014 in English (English)

The second article in this series. Nederlandse tekst - Texte français

Mapper of the month: Guy Vanvuchelen

Guy's username is GuyVV. He is 70 and lives in the area around Tienen. He has worked all his life for a bank. During the last years of his active career he made a lot of statistics, using tools such as Framework, DBase, Excel and Access. He bought his first computer, a MSX, in 1988. A few years later he switched to a "PC". Although he lost track, he assumes that he already owned 20 different models. He is an amateur photographer since his 16th birthday. Later on, he also made digital videos and recently he is into digital photography. Since his retirement he started to walk, slightly pushed by his wife. After buying a Garmin Etrex, he enjoyed it more since he had something to do; namely recording tracks!

How and when did you discover OpenStreetMap?

While I was looking for free maps for my Garmin, I discovered OpenStreetMap. Almost immediately, I realized that those free maps were often better than the official, expensive maps from Garmin. For this reason I use OSM on my Garmin and with OsmAnd.

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

Wherever I go for my walks, typically signposted walks with a club, I make notes. I do not really make structured notes. For this purpose, I use OsmAnd with voice recording. At the moment I try to "write down" the width of roads, the maximum allowed speed, the surface or type of track, the start and end of villages. Furthermore I am interested in all chapels and wayside shrines, so I mark them as well. From time to time I also encounter footpaths ("Trage Wegen") that are missing. After a walk of 10 kilometers, I have 30-50 minutes of voice recorded notes. From time to time I get some unexpected help from my walking buddies when they let me know beforehand when we are approaching a wayside chapel. They do not really know what I am doing and they think I am only interested in taking a picture.

What do you map and do you have any specialization?

When I started, I thought we should only map roads. I know better now. I'm not specialized in a certain topic, but I will never pass a little chapel without making a note! For awhile, I also collected some address information. I started around my house and walked all the street in the neighborhood. After the arrival of AGIV, I did some couch mapping of house numbers. At this moment I am not sure whether I should continue or now. There has been a lot of discussion on the Belgian mailing list and I do not know whether it is worth the effort to collect the data by surveying.

Why do you map? What motivates you?

I would love to make the map better than the commercial maps, especially around Tienen. I hope that this will make it easier for me convince family and friends to use OpenStreetMap. One of the problems I see at the moment is that the data for car navigation are not complete enough and therefore people do not start using it. Most mappers are mapping from walking or cycling perspective and seem less interested in that type of data. Let me explain this a bit more. I drive with a caravan behind my car. Therefore I do not want to drive along small roads where it is difficult to pass a car from the opposite direction. My TomTom does not help me in this case. Therefore I want to add the width or the number of lanes in OpenStreetMap, so that in the end the map is better than the commercial ones.

Do you do other things related to OpenStreetMap?

Not really, only an occasional attempt to convince friends.

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

It is still to difficult for people to start contributing. This is partly due to the lack of documentation in Dutch. I think that meeting on a regular basis for small groups of people could be very helpful. We could stimulate, learn together, etc.

What is in your view the greatest strength of OpenStreetMap?

The data that is available for hikers and cyclists, e.g. via Garmin maps

What are the biggest challenges for OpenStreetMap?

To bring the car navigation on the same level and to keep all data up-to-date

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

Start simple. Take one topic, study the documentation and focus on that for awhile

Location: Hakendover, Tienen, Leuven, Flemish Brabant, Flanders, 3300, Belgium

The Magic MapRoulette Machine

Posted by mvexel on 2 December 2014 in English (English)

Making a MapRoulette challenge has always been a bit of a, well, challenge. I wrote a tutorial in an attempt to explain the process, but in the end, it is still more work than I would like it to be, and more technical than I would like it to be, too.

So I made something new: the Magical MapRoulette Machine!

The MMM lets you create a MapRoulette challenge interactively. Just answer a few simple questions and your own challenge can be live in minutes. The key component, the part that actually defines which OSM ways or nodes you want to have fixed, is an Overpass API query. If you are not familiar with writing queries in the Overpass Query Language, that would be the only thing you would need to learn a little bit about.

How do I use the Machine?

First download and install it using the instructions on the project page.

Once you have the Machine on your machine, you can just run it in interactive mode by calling it like this: ./ It will then ask you a series of questions about things like the Title, Instruction, Help text, etcetera. All those bits are explained in the MapRoulette Tutorial.


Next, it will ask you which MapRoulette server to use. It will default to the dev server, which is a great place to start. It is publicly accessible so you can use it to 'battle-test' your Challenge idea. It will also ask if this is a new Challenge or not. Unless you are uploading your Challenge for the first time, you should accept the default, which is to update an existing challenge.


(By now you will have noticed that there are default values for each question. These represent an example challenge for shops and restaurants without opening hours around Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. They are just meant to give you some more guidance.)

Next up is the most interesting question: which OSM nodes / ways will actually represent your tasks? You tell the Machine by way of an Overpass query.


Let's look at that a little more closely. Consider this simple example. Say I am a Dutch mapper and I want to create a challenge to fill in all missing lanes on motorways in and around the Netherlands. The Overpass query for that is fairly straightforward.

The Overpass QL looks intimidating at first, but the basics are easy to learn. And for the Magical MapRoulette Machine, you only need the part that actually queries the nodes (or ways). The rest is taken care of internally.

query stub You only need the highlighted part

Once you have the Overpass Query, you are 95% of the way there!

The Machine will now talk to the Overpass API and retrieve your tasks. Depending on the size of the area you are querying, and the complexity of the query, this could take a little while. The machine will eventually respond, and ask you to confirm one more time:


At the bottom it will give you the link to your new challenge! Yay! (The example one is online as well to prove that it really works!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Location: De Guigne Drive, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County, California, 94086, United States of America

OSM issues apparently ?

Posted by PmaiIkeey on 2 December 2014 in English (English)
  1. Missing road type : Dual Carriageway.

Significant as legislation is different on this type of road.

  1. Street naming style

I'm playing with Millom - notably King St and Queen St, chopping and changing cuts/sections so that the priority streetname crosses the streets that have to give way.

Comments ???

  1. Map rendering(?) issue - random beach appearing at some zoom levels well inland in iD edit mode. Nr. Silecroft. I've captured images of the problem. Various triggers cause the issue to come and go (SAVE, ZOOM+, ZOOM-, REFRESH PAGE). Maybe it's stopped happening now ??? !

  2. Are we supposed to mark settlements with a large residential area ? I see some are and some aren't so marked.

  3. tag search results: '1 result for "war memorial" ' - yet "war memorial" doesn't come up in the results to be chosen. It's 'difficult' finding the correct tags as they're not always available - e.g. Level Crossing.

  4. Adding points to lines - is there a better way than adding a stand-alone point to the map and then dragging it onto the line you want to add a point to ? Why can't there be an 'add point' icon at all positions along a line rather than just at the ends ?

  5. Is this the best forum for discussions and issue-raising ? I looked at the wiki but it needs another login - something not even needed on Wikipedia !

Having got that lot off my chest....

Hi, I'm new here - and recently rejoined the OSM contributors - having found updating Google maps so tricky!

  1. How do you 'read' from the maps - having just noticed the lat/long boxes below - that's a useful tool ('use map) - just wish both co-ords were in one box !

  2. Google has 'My Maps' function - is something similar available with OSM ?

All for now,


Location: Lancashire Road, Copeland, Cumbria, North West England, England, LA18 4BT, United Kingdom

One year older

Posted by walley on 1 December 2014 in English (English)

Mapper since: December 01, 2006. two more years and it'll be 10 years. I will probably forget, so congratulating myself in advance.

Happy mapping.

Location: Novosady, Litovel, okres Olomouc, Olomouc Region, Střední Morava, 78401, Czech Republic

HOT 2014 Review

Posted by russdeffner on 1 December 2014 in English (English)

Greetings, this is a brief recap of my contributions to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) in 2014.

In February 2014 I was nominated and accepted as a Voting Member of HOT and in March I was elected as the Chairperson for the Voting Members.

At the end of March, as some of you well know, we began an Activation to assist Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), aka Doctors Without Borders, with the Ebola crisis in West Africa, see for details. I assisted the Activation Coordinators at the beginning of the Activation by updating that wiki page for about the first month, as well as completing a handful of mapping tasks. I also remotely contributed to the Map Lesotho Mapathon in July.

As Chairperson, my focus was less on the mapping, and more on the ‘behind-the-scenes’ operations of HOT. I attempted to assemble the Voting Members for an ‘annual meeting’ twice, but was unable to get a quorum (at the time a majority) of our members. This was obviously a problem and after many meetings and conversations it became fairly clear that with a worldwide membership, even meeting electronically, would be difficult.

So I shifted my efforts to helping re-ignite the HOT Working Groups, especially the Governance WG. Although I also participated in the Activation WG, Training WG, Community WG, Communication WG, and attended a few Technical WG meetings; I’m going to focus on the achievements of the Governance WG here. Our first priority was to address the issue(s) of assembling our membership to hold legitimate meetings in order to conduct business. We decided our best course of action would be to ease the quorum requirement; the alternative would have been to start removing members (which would have been an extremely difficult and much longer process). In order to do so, we needed to get a majority of members to assemble in order to ratify a change to the bylaws. So first, we drafted and proposed Proxy Rules which were approved by the Board of Directors to use for a Special Meeting of the Voting Members to adopt an amendment to our Bylaws changing the quorum to ¼ of our members – which the Gov WG also drafted.

This culminated in our first ever meeting of the Voting Members, on October 16th, where a majority of us were present or represented by a proxy; i.e. able to conduct business. The meeting was specific to ratifying the quorum clause of the Bylaws and that was approved. Although I had high hopes to accomplish more in my first year as Chair, I am pleased with the progress we made as this should make future meetings of the membership much easier to conduct. Now the Governance WG will set its sights on the (quickly) approaching new member nominations and HOT election cycle.

As a side note, I also had to address an issue with several members regarding how we speak to and respect each other and hope I brought enough of a resolution that no further disciplinary action is required. Also throughout the year I continued to support our OSM community in Mongolia, see for the backstory and spoke at the University of Colorado on the subject in February.


Russell Deffner

Chairperson for the Voting Members

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

NYC Community Garden Project and OSM

Posted by emacsen on 1 December 2014 in English (English)

I did a little writeup on what the NYC OSM community it up to.

How to improve OSM: kill the bureaucracy

Posted by Tom Morris on 1 December 2014 in English (English)

I've been mapping for a while now. I have some issues with the way OSM currently works.

  1. The current tagging/import approval process is silly. To get a new tag approved formally, you are supposed to post about it on tagging-l. Then you are supposed to write a wiki page, then have comments on the wiki page, then have an RfC on the wiki talk page, then announce the RfC on the mailing list. If someone says "yeah, I'm not wild about this idea", that's pretty much a blocker for it happening at all. The alternative to this process is to simply start putting tags on things when you edit them and create an informal convention. Because the former process is so ludicrously painful and slow, it is much easier to tell people who you meet who say "I'd really like to start putting X on OSM" to just go ahead and do it quietly without telling anyone, and then it probably won't be a problem.

  2. The wiki doesn't match reality. The RfC process is so ludicrously over-complicated partly because nobody is sure whether the wiki exists to document existing behaviour or to specify what ought to be done. That is, nobody is sure if the wiki is descriptive or normative. It has thus ended up being both and neither.

  3. There doesn't seem to be a process for ever tidying the wiki, and no feeling that we should ever bring discussions to an actual consensus. Over on Wikipedia, for all its faults, admins do at some point close discussions and say "here's the rough consensus: X". On OSM, the discussions just rumble on forever.

  4. The culmination of this slow and silly process for approving proposed tags or imports is that now when friends come to me and say "I've got this really awesome idea for using OSM and we could contribute data back", I now say "yeah, good luck with that: the community process is so slow and bureaucratic, it often isn't worth bothering with". That's toxic. It's absolutely ghastly that smart, informed programmer types come to me and say "we've potentially got some amazing data we could contribute to OSM" and my answer is "that sounds awesome but the process is so broken that you shouldn't bother doing it officially, just do it quietly and unofficially".

There's some simple things we could do to fix this.

  1. Close most mailing lists. Mailing lists suck. Over at we eliminated all our mailing lists and just use a wiki instead. See wiki is better than email.

  2. Get rid of most of the RfC process. It doesn't work.

  3. Switch to a default of "let's allow things to happen, then fix them when they break" rather than the current "let's have long, pointless mailing list discussions and then say no".

  4. Develop a process that is based around evidence collection. When I proposed the dress code feature, I provided comprehensive examples of different types of dress code that people were actually publishing on the web. The point is that when deciding on a new tag or feature proposal, we should be guided by the evidence of what people are already trying to express in other settings. The alternative process to this is called "making shit up out of whole cloth". It has a proud and noble tradition in standards-making. Alas, that tradition is also accompanied by a history of complete failure.

If we want enthusiastic contributors to work on making OSM fill all sorts of interesting and unpredictable new use cases, we should welcome those people in rather than keep around processes that are slow, bureaucratic and alienating.

COFFEEDEX & the single-tag revolution

Posted by tmcw on 1 December 2014 in English (English)

COFFEEDEX is a thing I made to track coffee prices worldwide.

Late in the iD Editor sprint, I wrote osm-auth to make the OAuth dance easier for potential future editors, thinking that a lot of common editing tasks would require super-focused UIs. COFFEEDEX is more or less the first attempt at doing that: it edits a single tag on a single type of node, amenity=cafe, and only on local nodes.

It's also made to be a pretty decent example for people who want to write their own editors: it's ~500 lines of terse JavaScript, pretty well-organized with React & the latest goodies.

Does this bloat the database? My back of napkin math says that if we tagged all 150,000 cafes with 32 chars of <tag k='coffee:price' v='$10' /> we'd end up with a grand total of 38.4MB of bloat, on a database that weighs 38GB, so we're talking a tenth of one percentage of an increase.

Which brings me to the idea: what other things can we conquer in a single tag? Wheelmap is the great-grandaddy and most awesome example of this. How about:

  • An editor that asks you how many stories the building you're currently standing in has. Or what color?
  • Bridge height entries
  • Opening-hours-only editor


See a bug? If you have a GitHub account and want to be super nice to me, please file a bug in the GitHub issue tracker!

Location: Hedges Road, Chester, Morris County, New Jersey, 07930, United States of America

Mapping Botswana report for November 2014

Posted by Mapping Botswana on 30 November 2014 in English (English)

November is at an end. The efforts of the Peace Corps make their mark on the map but many others have contributed to the map.

In December we hope to publish a tool to help show the mapping status of settlements. Stay tuned! Mapping Botswana in November 2014

Not a conclusive list of updated places:

  • Bobonong
  • Bokaa
  • Borolong
  • Borotsi
  • Chobe National Park
  • Dagwi
  • Deception
  • Diloro
  • Dobe
  • Francistown
  • Ghanzi
  • Gootau
  • Groote Laagte
  • Inalegolo
  • Kachikau
  • Kasane
  • Kazungula
  • Khawa
  • Kutamogree
  • Lecheng
  • Lesholoago
  • Lesoma
  • Mabalane
  • Mabuasehube
  • Mahalapye
  • Marobela
  • Maun
  • Mmadinare
  • Mochudi
  • Modipane
  • Moiyabana
  • Molalatau
  • Natale
  • Palapye
  • Pandamatenga
  • Pilikwe
  • Polenswa
  • Radisele
  • Ramokgonami
  • Robelela
  • Satau
  • Sefophe
  • Selebi-Phikwe
  • Shashe
  • Shashe-Mooke
  • Shoshong
  • Tati Siding
  • Thamaga Tlokweng Tobane Tutume

Visualizing improvement in improving Carroll County in OpenStreetMap

Posted by skorasaurus on 29 November 2014 in English (English)

Before I went to visit Carroll County in North Central Ohio for a weekend in July, its state in OSM was really poor. It consisted mostly of TIGER-imported ways that hadn't been whose geometry hadn't been changed since the original TIGER Import in 2008. In many cases, the roads' geometry didn't make up with reality. Some roads were 30 meters off of where they really are; small townships of 10-20 streets on the map were like jigsaw puzzle pieces that needed to be rotated; random roads were in the middle of grassy fields. One exception to it was Carrollton, the largest city in the county, which was improved very well by OSM user Evan Edwards.

After that weekend, I corrected some road geometries and added a dozen or so POIs. and wondered how long it will take me to fix all of the roads in the county and what would it reveal about editing TIGER data.

Answer: a lot longer than I thought! (~30 hours over a couple months). Near the end, it honestly became a chore. But I want to see how it would like visually, I didn't want to do that work for nothing...

How I did it (very briefly): I was able to more quickly improve the ways by using where I'd copy the geometry from a TIGER2013 file; verify that the TIGER13 matches the aerial imagery better than the existing way.

This a great strategy and I'd advise anyone who is interested in improving TIGER-imported ways in the future.

Watch a quick example of this workflow in the GIF.

GIF - editing osm with tiger2014 and josm

If you're interested in a detailed workflow, skip to the end...


Here's a first draft of my visualization: -

Now, I'm trying to visualize the improvements that I made by displaying the distance between 2 linestrings (before I edited with OSM data from spring 2014 - which a postgis table named old_line, and OSM data from Nov. 2014 which is a postgis table named new_line))

How I'm planning to do this.

A] select each point in the every linestring from old_line as oldpointdump

SELECT ST_DumpPoints(way) FROM old_line as oldpointdump

B] FOR each point in oldpointdump, find the closet linestring in new_line; measure this distance

C] create a new column for this distance (as distfromtiger)

F] then in every line string in old_table between 2 points (let's call these points J and K), add a column and assign that column a value that is (.5 * (distfromtiger for J) + (distfromtiger of K))

G] style the linestring in mapbox/cartodb using the value that I derived in F


A much more thorough workflow follows:

I used ogr2osm to convert 2013 TIGER Shapefile (then tiger2014 once they became available) into an OSM file and then loaded that file in josm and deleted all of the unnecessary tags that were created in it, except the fullname field; to ensure that the name was matching up with the correct road, and saved on my computer for my workflow.

Then, I went to editing. I downloaded some OSM data from JOSM, opened the TIGER osm file, and checked out a particular area with bing imagery. For a particular street, go over the entire street to see if the 2013 road is in fact closer to matching the aerial bing imagery than the existing road is. I'd also load up the history for the road to see if any nodes were changed. (Cntrl+H). Many roads were changed to proper highway type (tertiary) but didn't have any of the geometry modified since the original tiger import.

If the 2013 is more closely aligned than the existing road, delete the name tag in the TIGER 2013 way you're about to select; copy (cntrl+c the highway as it is in a separate layer with the separate layer selected in josm); switch to your osm data layer, and then paste into your data layer of OSM data. Then select the two ways, the new way and the way you're replacing; and hit cntrl+shift+g. CNTRL+shift+g is the 'replace geometry' shortcut that keeps the history of the original way and relations that the way belongs to.

I looked over each way that I imported. In some cases the imported way was about 5-10 meters from the center of the road in the bing imagery but still better than before and within the general margin of error that we have in OSM.

After you finish all of the ways in your area; hit the JOSM validation, first fix all of the errors marked highway duplicate nodes; then hit the josm validation button again; and go to the ways ended near other nodes, right click on each one in the list which brings me to the location of the node, hit 'N' for each. At this point, I'd go back to the ways I modified, and simplify them (cntrl+y) because TIGER with deletes any excess nodes without deleting the nature of the geometry.

Sentinel-2 satellites imagery can be used for OSM

Posted by Pieren on 29 November 2014 in English (English)

Here an interesting blog post from Jordi Inglada/CESBIO about the incoming imagery from the ESA/EU-Copernicus satellites Sentinel-2 (or here) which will be published with an open license compatible for OSM tracing. The program is designated for global land-cover mapping (4 bands at 10 m resolution).
Our challenge will be to retrieve this data in a usable form for us (e.g. georeferenced, rectified and cloudless, TMS served). Also Jordi Inglada says one word about open source softwares from CNES which could be used to convert pixels into landuse polygons.
As quoted from his blog: "This means that we have free data and free tools. Therefore, the complete pipeline is available for projects like OSM. OSM contributors could start right now getting familiar with these data and these tools."

(from Sébastien Dinot talk-fr ML post)

OSM IQ 4 Phone

Posted by marco79 on 28 November 2014 in English (English)

OSM IQ has been released for Windows Phone.

It was never more stylish to search for key-value-pairs...

Nunca foi tao estiloso procurar pelo key-value-pairs...


Mapping stories

Posted by ndm on 28 November 2014 in English (English)

Problems mapping the HOLLYWOOD sign:

The last unmapped places on Earth (with a namecheck to HOT towards the end):


Posted by SFDC Lavanya on 28 November 2014 in English (English)

Zip Code: 02203 City: Boston State: MA County: Suffolk County

Location: Downtown Crossing, Financial District, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, 02111, United States of America


Posted by SFDC Lavanya on 28 November 2014 in English (English)

State: DC City: Washington County:District of Columbia

Location: Chinatown, Southwest Waterfront, Washington, District of Columbia, 20463, United States of America

Headway from NY to SF

Posted by TrungPhungDuc on 28 November 2014 in English (English)

Do everyone know the way from NY to SF. it didn't appear on the map

First OpenStreetMap classes in Ayacucho, Peru

Posted by lxbarth on 23 November 2014 in English (English)

The energy at the first OpenStreetMap class in Ayacucho, Peru was amazing. We had about 40+ students come out to learn how to map. This is all part of our effort to build local community in this city of 150,000 in the Andes where Development Seed, (the company that launched Mapbox) was founded and where today we have a growing team of OpenStreetMap data analysts.

Read more about our goals for Ayacucho on our blog in English and on Ruben's diary in Spanish.

OpenStreetMap class at the University of Ayacucho.

Location: Distrito de Jesús Nazareno, Jesús Nazareno, Huamanga, Ayacucho, Peru

Bengaluru ♥ OpenStreetMap

Posted by lxbarth on 23 November 2014 in English (English)

I had a fantastic week in Bengaluru the amazing tech hub in India's south with Shiv and Eric connecting with startups, NGOs, data geeks and geo community. We were part of an OpenStreetMap Geo BLR meetup and the #osmegeoweek mapping party and the turnout for both events was great. We had fun rigging rickshaws with Mapillary and we met inspiring mappers like PlaneMad and NGOs like Kalike mapping rural areas on OpenStreetMap.

Watch India, the map is growing fast! Good places to connect are the India mailing list, the Datameet Google group and in Bengaluru specifically, the GeoBLR meetup group

Geohacker presenting how the Moabi project uses OpenStreetMap software to track forest health in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Great crowd at the GeoBLR meetup hosted at the Centre for Internet and Society.

Getting hands on with OpenStreetMap tools.

Intros at the OpenStreetMap mapping party.

Rickshaw mapping with Mapillary - here's the track.

Location: Sampangirama Nagar, MacIvor Town, Bangalore, Bangalore Urban, Karnataka, 560027, India

OS Locator update 201411

Posted by robert on 22 November 2014 in English (English)

Ordnance Survey have recently released their November 2014 version of OS Locator, the comprehensive gazetteer for GB. According to my calculations there are 12,201 new or changed entries and 10,203 removed entries since the last release in May.

I've updated my comparison tool Musical Chairs with the new data. New entries tend to show up prominently in the "recent relevant updates" view mode for a week or so after an update, so this is a good way of taking a look at what's changed in your area.

I'd suggest GB mappers take a look at their area, even if not for the purpose of mapping - new releases of Locator often reveal some interesting things about new building projects and developments.

OS Locator Musical Chairs screenshot from 20141122

Additionally, I've recently added RSS feeds to musical chairs to make it even easier to monitor your area for possibly problematic changes.

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