Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

Cleaning up admins

Posted by rorym on 17 October 2014 in English (English)

I'm looking through the OSM database and finding a lot of weird quirks in the admin_hierachy. There are lots of things that are tagged admin_level=2 that I don't think are quite right. If you get a message from me, it might be because of that.

Saw somebody in the streets, mapping. And courious how I am, I approached him.

Posted by Synapsensalat on 15 October 2014 in English (English)

He was mapping for a project at college. I had a short talk with him. The students in his class are spread all over town and researching the change that happens when small alleyways close. If I understood it correctly. Why aren't the universities and colleges support their students in contributing to Open Street Maps? He said they gather all this data. And then nothing. It just sits at their homes and does nothing. I really hope he will check OSM out and will find it a satisfying way to share the data.

Latest fashions in area highways and the plan for wash common coming soon.

Posted by Govanus on 15 October 2014 in English (English)

I've been a bit more away from osm in the last week than I planned so apologies for those waiting for bit from me. I've not forgotten!

I'm planning to do the whole of wash common's roads in a big stint very soon.

I began in the area before I'd learnt about area highways. so the results became a bit strange (footpaths narrow and road surfaces very wide creating mismatchings and dislocated sidewalk features that tried to join the footpaths. Then when I tried to add area highways using the early area=highway type tagging it fell foul of mentors auto-validator and the "corrections actually messed up in some renders as mentor tagged the with a lot of highway tags to confuse things. The key reason why they weren't suppose to be added in the first place. So I gave up on Wash common for a while to see if mentor would finish the site off, (I had other fish to fry too). But nothing seems to have been added and parts are just looking like a mess so I need to go back and get it done properly.

As area highways and sidewalk tagging seem to have been a moving target to draw with I was going to put a general question out on the help wiki to find out what the consensus is at the moment on this apparently such an awkward feature (most maps I commercially use just use vectors to show edges of things and then the space between the "edges" of the same type become areas or a seeding dot or simplified routing line to carry the pathing logic in a cheap way.

Features I want to look at is:-

Roadscape feature edges: the sides of islands, verges and special contraflow barriers Roadscape surfacing areas: patches of surface treatments from special grip and colour coats (common in the UK the former near problem junctions, and the latter to help highlight use restrictions - through to - major surface material changes (such as a bare concrete busstop or parking bay alongside a tarmac carriageway - or on "sidewalks" the awkward [see wheeled carts etc] patches of cobbling styles at entrances and by certain buildings the interrupt the smoother paving slabs on the rest of the sidewalk. Parking bay areas: some jurisdictions like the ones I map draw very specific boxes on the highway that parking is allowed and nowhere else [for the stretch they cover - however short]. So it would be nice to convey the areas on the highway you could park when doing a area for the featured highway. Lanes areas: These could be special rules spaces like fire lanes in the U.S. or bus, cycle, taxi only lane in the UK and elsewhere. -- or by simple extension defined lanes in the carriageway [often when painted to rules] :: features about lane boundary crossing rule makings could be added on the edges of these if people wanted to add that type of information.

Highway boundaries physical: the limits of landuse dedicated to the highway inclusive of all the features including ditches and verges - solves the strange debate of what to map other landuse areas to when the edge runs alongside the road. Highway boundaries legal: the edge limits of what a highway authority has the power allow the right of passage to the public or to control parking etc isn't always the same thing as the edge of a sidewalk or fence line sometimes neighbouring property places more pavement on the edge of the highway to improve the interface between the site and highway users such outside shops or for private parking. Sometimes these get marked in special ways while others they are only given in landowner to landowner agreements such as rents paid to allow the highway use of parts of private land that is only defined in a contract between the parties and nothing is on the road. Carriageway edges:it might be useful to have a logical way to bond a relationship of lanes or just to map a carriageway without its lanes to start with.

Crossing limits: there can be highly marked areas on some roads where pedestrians (and sometimes bicycles and horses are supposed to cross in. rendering these can improve user comprehension (especially when multipathing is defined (horse and cycle segregation on the crossing)). it may also render well to similar features like bridleways approaching the road.

There seems also a lot of evidence that defining junction space on both carriageways and separately out the highway boundaries is also important for some users the later is often used like a navigating place name especially when roads are not named but the junctions are instead. [look in the wiki for examples about these]

The more to add street furniture already in osm in more precise location becomes easier to like lamps, postboxes, telephone boxes and kiosks.

When would this be most relevant? When guiding pedestrians (especially the disabled), parking motorists, and when make entrance maps for flyers and brochures. It also looks good alongside transition to indoor mapping systems at normally smaller scales.

The way to look at it is to stand next to a busy road and think of as not just a road but imagine it was part of a park (as in the green grass urban variety) and to map the complex of features you can find in the roadscape around you.

a god exaple I found was this and this earlier started proposal that takes up were the approach I first adopted left off is also useful to show how people are also aproaching the problem. I'm out of time tonight but I may try sending this to the help wiki soon to get some feed back by all those that scour that system.

Location: Newbury CP, Newbury, West Berkshire, South East, England, United Kingdom


Posted by sealthedeal on 15 October 2014 in English (English)

Doing this, mapping these places, very tiring. I know i'm helping and doing something I have never done before is why I continue to map. i thank my teacher for showing an allowing us to do this its pretty cool.

Coastal Maine is broken in OpenStreetMap (county lines, Nominatim)

Posted by ekidd on 14 October 2014 in English (English)

I want to do a few tiny mapping projects in Maine, because I have some local knowledge, and I know people there who need maps. But I've run into a number of issues, and it has been suggested that I should write these up for a larger audience.

County borders

The county borders in Maine are wildly inaccurate, at least along the coast. They're based on a low-res trace of the shoreline, which has several problems:

  1. You get a lot of cluttered borders deep within a county.
  2. The borders swerve randomly all over coastal islands. This is ugly, and incorrect.
  3. Many smaller islands are omitted entirely.

Here's a sample. Every piece of land on this map actually falls within the county line, and I'd imagine that the ocean is under county jurisdiction as well:

Lincoln county border closeup

Now, we actually have pretty accurate county data in various GNIS and TIGER fields, if we know how to interpret it. Let's set up a JSOM filter to exclude everything but Lincoln county data and the border line:

-("gnis:county_id"="015" | "gnis:County_num"="015" | "tiger:county" = "Lincoln, ME" | border_type = "county") 

This gives us a pretty decent county boundary:

Lincoln county border tweaking

You can see where I started cleaning up the county borders by hand on the left side of the map, relying on GNIS county data on the mid-river islands to get it approximately right.

We either need to find a better data source, or we need to redraw the county lines using GNIS/TIGER data. Even rough, hand-drawn county lines would be more accurate than what we have now.

Nominatim and town lines

Here's another map. Everything on this map should have "addr:city=Boothbay". But as you can see, the actual town of Boothbay is marked using a point:

Trevett breaks nominatim

The problem arises because of "Trevett". This is local Boothbay post office, not a real town. But Nominatim has decided that many roads are in "Trevett", and it can't find them if you search for the actual postal addresses that use "Boothbay."

When you combine the lack of town lines with the bad county lines, OpenStreetMap won't be able to locate the home addresses for people who live near the Maine coast. And this will make it hard to enlist contributors in these areas: We need a certain minimum level of usability before people will try to suggest improvements.

So what do people think? Is it better to have dodgy hand-drawn borders than what we have now? Or should we find a better data source? And if so, where?

Location: Middle Road, West Boothbay Harbor, Lincoln County, Maine, 04538, United States of America


Posted by Richard on 14 October 2014 in English (English)


And so is Potlatch... just about. (Insert obvious Flash reference here.)

Potlatch 2's core purposes are (a) being an intermediate-level editor and (b) annoying Germans. It's never going to get major new functionality or important rewrites, but for those of us happily using it, I've always intended to add and fix little things over time.

In the summer it gained support for the editor-imagery-index project, which provides a central list of background imagery suitable for tracing. Today it has a couple of improvements to the long-standing feature where you shift-click away from a way to add a new point (roughly comparable to JOSM's "Improve Way Accuracy" mode, but we don't do modes round here) - which is a really useful technique for TIGER fixup.

I've also added the ability to memorise tag combinations and recall them by a single keypress. Very simple: press shift and a function key to memorise the tags from the current selection. From then on, pressing that function key will add the tags to the selected items. (Those with long memories may remember this is a Potlatch 1 feature, and one I've always meant to add to P2!)

I have a couple of larger features which are 90% coded but were never quite finished, both firmly "intermediate-level" tools. As and when I get the time, I'm hoping to finally finish them off and get them out there.

No Waiting

Posted by kucai on 14 October 2014 in English (English)

I am getting tired fixing the automated notes. For every river crossing, some darned program will put a river name note. For every overpass, it will put no waiting on both sides of the bridge. Then there is the "Go ahead" notes popping up here and there.

Luckily, our main North South highway is only few hundred kilometers long. God help me if it is as long as I-40...

Location: North South Expressway, Tapah, Malaysia

Your opinion about the relation "type=person"

Posted by Pieren on 13 October 2014 in English (English)

Express your opinion about the relation "type=person" here:
This is also questioning the limits of the project (what has to go into OSM and what not)


Posted by Minh Nguyen on 13 October 2014 in English (English)

Warning: This post makes absolutely no sense to anyone outside the United States, or to anyone who relies on a mode of transportation that uses a sane numbering scheme.

Development on the OSM U.S. shield renderer seems to have stalled a bit, and my request to render pictoral route shields on the Standard stylesheet is effectively tabled for now. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to get excited about on the shield rendering front.

Just to bide my time, I decided to approach route shields from the other direction, using OpenStreetMap’s coverage of the Cincinnati Tri-State area as a starting point. Slapping shields in random locations all over a road map is so… functional. So let’s ditch the map, fire up TileMill, and let the shields do the talking:

The first thing you see

A bit of a mess, isn’t it? It’s even worse when you zoom out:

The next thing you see

But pan around, and you might start to notice some patterns if you’re from the area. You can make out the most prominent highways. Here’s a map Nate made from OSM data, for comparison:

Back to reality

You can make out the Ohio–Kentucky state line where the state route shields in the shape of Ohio turn into plain old circles:

These states have a lot in common, really

So what’s going on? Each shield on the grid indicates the nearest Interstate, U.S. route, or state route, with an understandable bias towards highways over surface streets. A shield isn’t necessarily positioned along the route it indicates; rather, it just happens that no other route is closer. That property gives rise to an interesting phenomenon that I’ll take the liberty of calling a routeshed. Much like a watershed, a routeshed encompasses the area in which cars naturally flow toward a single route. OK, that sounds so ridiculous it belongs in a Wikipedia article. But this is what the sparse terrain of western Hamilton County looks like:

No choice but the Interstate

If you’re as sleep-deprived as I am, it does kinda-sorta look like a watershed.

Here’s the full slippy map.

Credits: Road data from OpenStreetMap contributors, mostly me, Nate, and NE2. Shield blanks from Wikimedia Commons users SPUI, Ltljltlj, Fredddie, and Scott5114. Shield labels set in Roadgeek 2005 Series C and D. Code under the MIT license; tiles under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Location: Over-The-Rhine, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States of America

Contributor numbers Q3 2014

Posted by SimonPoole on 12 October 2014 in English (English)

I've updated the statistics that I regularly produce from our changeset dump, see stats page on, to the end of Q3 2014 numbers.

The well known trends continue with continuous growth in every category with a total of 447'883 contributors. Of special note is

showing that at the end of the third quarter we have already had slightly more active contributors than in the full year 2013.

August 2014 showed the 2nd highest increase in contributors in the history of the project with over 10'700 new mappers joining OpenStreetMap. It is not unwarranted speculation that this was due to the tenth anniversary celebrations.

Can we have sysnonyms?

Posted by charles philips on 12 October 2014 in English (English)

Blvd, Dr, and ave are common abbreviations for Boulevard, Drive and Avenue.

Many times people search for ABC blvd rather than ABC Boulevard. Can we make one a synonim of the other and then merge all Blvd and Boulevard together?

fire_hydrant tagging cleanup

Posted by Dakon on 12 October 2014 in English (English)

In the last days I mailed a lot of people about unusual values in their fire_hydrant tagging. The most important one was fire_hydrant:type, where some more or less unique values are already gone and replaced by the more common tagging. One nice thing were 3 things that were in fact no emergency=fire_hydrant, but emergency=water_tank. But since the original contributor was unsure on how exactly to tag these things he added an image tag to each of them, showing a photo. This way I could easily point him to the right direction, and as a nice side effect one of these images can now be seen on the wiki page for emergency=water_tank. Until now I only mailed those people that I was rather sure to understand either German or English and left out the Russian, Spanish (could also be Portugese or Italian, no idea), and French ones.

In the process of cleaning things up I learned that the New Tags JOSM presets, which I didn't know about before, introduced wrong tagging. It wrote the German names to the tag field instead of the English ones. Since this isn't exactly a new tag and JOSM already has a working template for this, I simply removed emergency=fire_hydrant from this presets.

Today I made the mistake to look into fire_hydrant:position values. This is probably unusable for any automated application, at least outside of your local clean area. There is a huge amount of inconsistent tagging in all sorts of languages. If I were really bored I would try to get clearance for a mechanical edit and would at start with deleting every fire_hydrant:* attribute that has an empty value. But sadly I'm not that bored, so any volunteers are welcome.

Finished adding the new stretch of Edsån

Posted by bjelkeman on 12 October 2014 in English (English)

Today I tidied up a bit of the land use areas around Edsån (a stream) which recently has been modified in RL to have a meandering path. I have done some GPS track walks around it to get the rough outline, and the new outline can of course be adjusted when the new air photography is available.

Location: Brf Regndroppen, Rotebro, Sollentuna, Stockholms län, Svealand, 19277, Sweden

Mapping my campus: cooperate with existing data

Posted by SimpleLuke on 12 October 2014 in English (English)

Since I finished mapping my hometown from almost white in the early September, I've been wondering what to map next. I've tried railway station sidings near my hometown but find that it's not the most urgent to do. Then I went to my university campus. Here's how it looks by now after my edit of ~300 ways and ~1200 nodes included in 5 changesets recently.

Situation here was quite different from that I met before in my less developed hometown where nothing has been mapped, actually, there were many features already here created by other students. It should be a good news generally, for less work is needed. However some of them are ambiguously and even inappropriately tagged, with grass tagged as meadow, dormitory tagged as hostel, wood tagged as forest, service roads tagged as track, etc. So the main work done by me is to correct them. Besides, some area was still left uncompleted for the cloud in the imagery and I mapped buildings there according to my knowledge and paper maps.

It's quite different to map the area where many other people have worked. Correcting and updating them gave me a new experience in contributing to OpenStreetMap in China. Next step, reorganize the main line railway network in China using relations and add the missing ones according to national standard ref numbers of railway lines, i.e. GBT 25344-2010.

Location: 东湖新技术开发区, 关东街道, Hongshan District, Wuhan City, Hubei, People's Republic of China

Condatos Mexico City: First Gathering of the Latin American OpenStreetMap Community

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

The annual open data conference AbreLatam / Condatos last week in Mexico City gathered for the first time the Latin American OpenStreetMap community. The OpenStreetMap track Conmapas connected people who've been working alongside in Latin America virtually for sometimes more than five years, and also drew in a huge crowd of city planners, activists, hackers, and map lovers who came to learn everything about OpenStreetMap.

This was a highly timely event in a year with heightened activity in Latin America's OpenStreetMap community and just a month from the annual OpenStreetMap conference State of the Map this year to take place in Buenos Aires from November 7th - 9th.

Here are some highlights of the event:

The morning was all talks and a panel about the growth of OpenStreetMap. We spent the afternoon with workshops and hacking on maps, editing OpenStreetMap, map making and opening data. You can read up on the full #conmapas program on the conference web site.

Mati Karwil and Aure Moser presented Bikestorming, an initiative to make cities world wide more bike friendly by providing more information about existing bike infrastructure using OpenStreetMap.

Thiago Santos described how he unlocked many dozens of PDFs from the Brazilian statistical institute IBGE. Here he's bribing attendees with chocolate to come out for his afternoon workshop to open Mexican INEGI data for OpenStreetMap. Without need as it turned out :)

Mayeli Sánchez Martínez from Proyecto Poder presented her work tracking extractive industry activities together with the Geoinquietos group.

Humberto Yances from Colombia with the Humantarian OpenStreetMap Team and the web service provider Náritas explained how he uses and contributes to OpenStreetMap both for the social good and as a private business.

Isaac Pérez-Serrano and Daniel Perez Tello from the Laboratorio para la Ciudad in Mexico City presented the lab's upcoming participatory mapping initiatives.

Pierre Béland from the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team made a call to map before disasters strike.

Marcelo Aliaga from OpenStreetMap Chile and then Chilean presidency walked through how OpenStreetMap became big in Chile and how the initiatives of the Chilean OpenStreetMap chapter.

Paul Goodman from the Mapbox team gave a walk through of mapping with drones.

See a full map of our three drone mapping missions in Mexico City

I loved the presentations at the open mapping panel together with Pierre Beland (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team), Gerardo Esperza (INEGI), Ives Rocha (Centro de Promoção de Saúde), about the benefits of OpenStreetMap for community mapping and government. Highlight: Gerardo Esperza from INEGI reiterated their data was available for OpenStreetMap. Now let's work on using that data!

At Conmapas core OpenStreetMap contributors from Latin America met each other for the first time in real life. Attendees from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua devised ways of working closer with each other. Concrete outcome: a new, much needed coordination channel for Latin America and many ideas on how to build stronger networks in Latin America.

To be continued

This Latin American network is just getting started. Join in and continue the conversation at State of the Map in Argentina.

Thank you

A big, big thank you to everyone who made this possible: Jorge Soto, Ania Calderón, Alejandra Ruiz and Rodolfo Wilhelmy of the Mexican presidency. Without the support of the Mexican presidency in terms of logistics and funding, this event would not have been possible. In addition to the presidency, Gabriella Gomez Mont, Stalin Muñoz, Jaime Quintanar, Lupita Gonzales of the Laboratorio para la ciudad were of amazing help coordinating locations for flying mapping drones in Mexico City. And last but not least, a huge thank you to all speakers for putting together an amazing program. Here's to more!

Photos: Vitor George, Humberto Yances, Paul Goodman, Eric Gundersen.

Location: Benito Júarez, Benito Juárez, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico

Unregulated ferry service

Posted by Skippern on 10 October 2014 in English (English)

After staying on various vessels moored alongside Caix de Paul, Peiú Terminal, Vila Velha, I discovered that there is some form of unregulated ferry service from a point near Caix de Paul over to Vitória. This service is unofficial, unregulated, and most likely illegal.

The service is operated with two or three wooden row boats, bringing up to 6 passengers for each passage. From the side of Vila Velha there is some form of passageway or footway leading to the boarding point, while I believe that on Vitória side the access is with a vertical stepladder leading from a public sidewalk/walkway down to the water. It have just been works on extending a public pier in that area, and I am unsure of where the actual boarding point is, and how to get access to the boats.

Unofficial, unregulated, irregular and probably illegal ferry service

Location: Paul, Argolas, Vila Velha, Microrregião Vitória, Greater Vitória, Mesorregião Central Espírito-Santense, ES, Southeast Region, Brazil

Question on Features Related to Waterbodies

Posted by Jon W on 9 October 2014 in English (English)

Hi, I am new to OpenStreetMap. I often use the US National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) in my work, but I am also a paddler, and I know from that experience there are many interesting features along waterways that aren't captured in the NHD and probably never will be because of the bureaucratic hurdles. I'm wondering if OpenStreetMap might be a good way to capture these points of interest along streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries, etc. such as rapids (with the ability to classify the rapid I-IV), boat ramps, fish weirs, waterfalls, etc. Ultimately, I envision watershed protection/Riverkeeper type organizations using the features in OSM to create maps of their watershed on their websites. This is already happening here in the US as there is a movement to create interactive watershed and/or paddling trail maps, but I think it is being done ad hoc by the few groups with the technological skill and money to pull it off. I know there are free web map options now like Google Maps with kmz files each watershed group can use, but it might be better if we could create a common template of features that these watershed groups would like to add to their watershed maps within OSM so they can take use the tools already built within it rather than everyone reinventing the wheel. So I guess I have two questions: 1. If I met with some watershed groups to find out what kind of feature types they would want in a map, what would be the process of getting them added as feature type choices in OSM? Some of them already appear to be in there, such as dams, boat rentals, and wastewater treatment plants, so there might not be a lot to add. Most of the new features would be points, but it's possible we might want to add a linear paddle trail route, if those are acceptable. 2. If a watershed group wanted to add OSM to their website, is it possible to filter the map in some way to only show certain feature types, such as water-related features, like dams, boat ramps, etc? Thanks!

Mapillary trials

Posted by maning on 9 October 2014 in English (English)

Short post. Testing mapillary around my area.

Alt text

Crowdsourcing geotagged photos is not a novel idea, but, one thing that attracted me to mapillary is the friendliness to OSM.

Maybe a longer post on my rig and experience later.

Can someone replace all blvd with boulevard

Posted by charles philips on 8 October 2014 in English (English)

theres plenty of blvd in address which should be boulevard. someone should make it a challenge

First thoughts

Posted by CountryLoon on 8 October 2014 in English (English)

I am new to OSM. I stand on the cliff wondering to take the dive into editing. I spend much of the last 2 years editing Google Maps for the county I live in northern Minnesota. I am a 9-1-1 dispatcher for my county sheriff's office. At least once a month, we would get calls from concerned citizens wondering if we would be able to find them in an emergency. I assured them that yes, we would find them as we use a map maintained by our GIS office which has every address in the county. The biggest complaint was GPS devices were barely accurate in my county. We readdressed and renamed roads at the same time the first TIGER surveys came through in 2000. Needless to say ever since, our roads were a jumbled mess of names and roads that did not exist. Sending law enforcement out to find hapless motorists who were hopelessly lost and off the cellphone network was nearly a monthly exercise for us. It was then I discovered that online maps could be edited by people who know the area. 2 years later, Google Maps is done, the complains have vanished and suddenly many websites start changing to this "new" thing called Open Street Map. (Obviously not new but just to me) I started studying the map and saw many flaws but in this case not just limited to my county but also all of northern Minnesota. Many of the mainline highways are not even tagged to the specifications set in the help and wikis. I reached out to a few editors and appreciate the advise but wow, where to begin. I see evidence of editing in the history but not to the roads so much. So I need to make a choice, limit myself to my home county or start with the mainline roads over the entire region and work down. Either way a big project.

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