Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

Outreachy - Week Two

Posted by Arushi Vashist on 8 June 2015 in English (English)

Dear all,

Here is my second report on my Outreacy project.

#Week No: Two

##Target Milestone: Improve UI of the mockup and prepare questionnaire for survey.

###Summary: Last week's UI was revised and improved along the lines of the existing web pages. A questionnaire was prepared to survey the community members.

Experimented on Mapping By Photo-geotagging

Posted by Chitetskoy on 7 June 2015 in English (English)

I am still trying the quirks of mapping on OSM by means of taking photos of interests using my smartphone and tablet with geotagging enabled.

Today I went on mapping the stretch of Lilac Street in Marikina, which is fast becoming a "Restaurant Alley" for more and more restaurants are plopping up on this street in the past years.

The restaurants there had not been mapped before to OSM.

Just what I am concerned, it seems that in some cases the GPS data saved on each of my photos are not accurate enough, with error up to 50 meters. Sometimes I had to use my reckoning in an attempt to plop points in the map correctly. I still haven't installed yet any OSM editors on my smartphone, and I am too reluctant to edit OSM data on-the-spot, given how bad is theft situation in the Philippines. Imagine busy mapping a Manila alleyway when someone suddenly grabs your phone.

I am using a Korean variant of Samsung Galaxy SIII. Priming up geotagging in my device takes a minute or so, and I realized this halfway through my mission. I also have minor accuracy issues on the GPS of my smartphone; I am noticing some discrepancies of up to 20 meters when I reviewed my cycling track on a route-plotting map on my phone.

I may still well experiment with this method and refine it if needed. Aside from the security concerns which i mentioned above, currently, the best OSM editors on the market still have bugs on offline editing, so I am reluctant on using those apps. I may well have to refine my current method and use my computer in mapping based on the geotags of the photos which I took.

shops as closed-Way building outlines, but also as Nodes in the center?

Posted by Peter Dobratz on 7 June 2015 in English (English)

I seem to be going around in circles in discussion of changeset 31269952 with a professional GIS user. He's added on purpose, a node for a hardware store for which there is already a closed-Way polygon for the same hardware store.

Maybe someone can weigh in on the changeset discussion and add clarity to the discussion.

Location: 45.472, -122.684

A researcher's scrapbook: understanding contributor engagement in humanitarian mapping

Posted by dekstop on 7 June 2015 in English (English)

Hallo! My name is Martin Dittus, and I'm a PhD student at the ICRI Cities at University College London. I research community engagement in the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), a volunteer initiative with thousands of contributors. At its core this is quantitative work, and my main outputs are statistics and data visualisations. I also spend a lot of time with the HOT community, am a contributor myself, and have spent much of the last decade with a range of similar community organisations.

I like that my job allows me to combine my experience in large-scale data analysis with my personal interest in community organisations. I spend a lot of time exploring data sets, producing things like this:

OpenStreetMap contributor density map

A big part of my work is about developing means to reason about HOT as a social phenomenon. I make use of "hard" evidence of data sources like the OSM edit history, but also the "soft" evidence of knowing the practices and motivations of the community. Together they allow me to develop conceptual models that help us reason about HOT. (I strongly believe you need both.)

In conversations with other community members and HOT organisers I realised that a lot of the data explorations I produce can be of interest to a wider audience. In early May 2015 I gave a talk at the HOT Summit under the title "Contributor Engagement in Humanitarian Mapping". The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, and there was quite a lot of debate afterwards. Then Alyssa Wright approached me and strongly suggested to find more public forms of sharing my findings. I shall aspire to do so! I can't promise a regular schedule, but I'm keen to share my observations.

In particular, I noticed that many people have a lot of experience about how to make HOT work, but also that people's perspectives tend to be local: they are focused on particular aspects or initiatives. This is in the nature of the practice, which is highly distributed across dozens of interest groups and concerns. As a result few people have a good global overview of what HOT is and how it works. In addition to these local experiences I think there is also an opportunity to develop a broader understanding of HOT, and I think I can contribute to that.

This may take different forms:

  • Analytics and visualisations that highlight key contribution patterns.
  • Contextualising the data: what do the numbers mean?
  • Conceptual models, for example reasoning about coordination tactics.
  • Evidence to substantiate design choices: currently, HOT planning decisions are often intuitive rather than evidence-based.
  • Critical thinking about community and coordination activity.

You can follow me at @dekstop where I will also announce any future posts.

Location: St Pancras, Somers Town, London Borough of Camden, London, Greater London, England, N1C, United Kingdom

Zimbabwe: Epworth Field Papers are in and ready!

Posted by rupertmaesglas on 7 June 2015 in English (English)

We now have a considerable proportion of the body of Epworth Field Papers, and we are hoping to start inputting as soon as possible.

We ran into some interesting issues in Epworth, to do with security, permissions and consent. We are working on the Wiki page for the job, and on which administrative levels to use. Rather than using, or 'imposing' external frameworks onto the randomised address system, it was important to have datasets which reflected the 'oral/institutional' memory of those on the ground delivering or directing help. Epworth's way of locating people for patient tracing (HIV and other ongoing treatments) is locked and protected in the memories of our workers on the ground.

This set of data has been carefully thought-out in order only to add to, and not to compromise, the well-being and resilience of this massively under-censussed and under-represented population.

Join us on 16th to get the data into JOSM and online.

Zimbabwe Blog:

We shall be playing with GPX traces, mapillary and Water Surveys on the night, and are still looking for the venue.

List of my changeset discussions?

Posted by Peter Dobratz on 7 June 2015 in English (English)

Is there a way to link to a list of all the changesets that I have made comments on?

Sometimes I make a comment on a changeset that a user never responds to. It would be helpful to be able to follow up on those, but it's hard to track them down because I don't get an email notification if I don't get a response.

The OSM Blog Entry on Changeset Discussions alludes to an API that will be described on the wiki, but I can't seem to find it.

Direct editable tags in osm

Posted by Aury88 on 6 June 2015 in English (English)

Today the OSM community can use several tools to add items on the map.

But if you want to just change the tags of a single already mapped item do you really need to load an entire program (like Josm, iD, Potlatch)?

Some days ago I discovered the incredible online tool Level0 that permit to directly add/change/remove tags.

This got me thinking about why there is not an integrated system in to make such a thing too.

We already can select an element (in the nominatim results list, from data-layer, or by "?" button on the map) and see its tags, but why can not a logged-in user directly edit them?

Actual state: What I mean:



PS: the last image above is not a mock-up or an ongoing project, I done it only to explain what I mean better than my English.

Globalizing the name translation debate

Posted by Minh Nguyen on 5 June 2015 in English (English)

The world is messy and human languages moreso. Recently the talk@ mailing list erupted in discussion over a proposal to shunt the vast majority of name:* tags over to Wikidata. But most of the discussion has centered around rather eurocentric examples and concerns. I worry that the discussion will lead to a policy change based on overgeneralizations. Having done a fair amount of multilingual name-tagging in the past, I want to point out just a few of the complications that monolingual mappers may be unaware of.

Translation versus transliteration

The top 20 languages are each natively spoken by about one percent of the world’s population. Twelve of them are in scripts other than Latin, and at least three are in non-alphabetic scripts, requiring transliteration just to produce a name that monolingual English speakers can recognize as text, let alone type.

Some have argued that translations are preferable to transliterations. Others have argued that transliterations should be omitted entirely from OSM, as an exercise to the reader or a job for third-party services. But what’s the difference between translation and transliteration? The wiki offers this simplistic explanation:

Transliteration is the process of taking a name in one language, and simply changing letters from one script to another.

This definition is a gross oversimplification, downplaying what it takes to adapt a foreign word to something you can use in your own language. There are three ways to go about it:

  • Transcription from another language gets you the original word’s pronunciation respelled in a very literal phonetic alphabet (or a language-neutral alphabet like the IPA), without regard for etymology. Except for cases involving ideographic scripts, as we’ll see below, pure transcription is almost never the right answer for a name:* tag.
  • Transliteration from another script to a Roman alphabet gets you the original word, but respelled as if English had borrowed the word, often taking liberties with the pronunciation in order to look “native” or respect the original etymology. Transliteration is the most reliable method for producing a usable name in your language.
  • Translation from another language to English gets you a word that refers to the same thing in English but may have a completely different pronunciation and etymology. Translation is only appropriate in a limited number of cases for historical reasons. Words like “north” and “city” are often translated while the rest of the name is transliterated.

I don’t speak Russian; perhaps one can get Абергавенни from “Abergavenny” by performing a simple one-to-one mapping from Cyrillic letters to Latin letters. But Russian has varying transliteration schemes, each with their own exceptions, and that’s a relatively easy task considering that the Roman and Cyrillic scripts share a common ancestor.

A counterexample: transliterating Chinese to Vietnamese

Shanghai Railway Station façade
Shanghai has a Vietnamese name. You’ll never see it on signage in Shanghai, but no Vietnamese speaker refers to the city by its Chinese name. (Photo: Immanuel Giel / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Over the last seven years, I’ve added tens of thousands of name:vi tags by hand, the vast majority of them to place POIs and relations in mainland China. One of these POIs is Shanghai, called 上海 in Chinese. English-language literature calls it “Shanghai”, after the Pinyin transcription Shànghǎi. Shanghai is just a name to English speakers; it retains the pronunciation, more or less, but not the meaning. A literal translation would be “High Sea” or, more poetically, “Upon the Sea”. You’d never put “Upon the Sea” into OpenStreetMap because no one has ever called it that. You’d set name:en=Shanghai because English has no special name for the city.

Vietnamese is very different when it comes to Chinese names. Vietnam has had millennia of intense contact with China (much of it adversarial). As a result, every Chinese character has a Sino-Vietnamese reading: a word that was borrowed from Middle Chinese into Old Vietnamese, retaining the meaning but not the pronunciation (owing to changes in both spoken Vietnamese and spoken Chinese over the centuries). For Shanghai, I set name:vi=Thượng Hải, using Sino-Vietnamese for 上海. It literally means “high sea”, but in words that are only used for terms and names borrowed from Chinese.

As it happens, 上 has multiple readings corresponding to different meanings: thưởng (award), thượng (high), thướng (rise). Choosing between them is the task of a translator, not a SQL transform. So how does a translator like me know choose the right Sino-Vietnamese words? Sometimes the answer is obvious: I simply learned long ago that Shanghai is called Thượng Hải in the course of learning Vietnamese, and most Vietnamese learn that just by living in Vietnam for a time. For more obscure names, there are plenty of places to look up individual characters. My sources have included an out-of-copyright dictionary and a Sino-Vietnamese database that comes with no restrictions according to its author. (For the record, Unihan is TIGER bad when it comes to Vietnamese.) When I’m on the fence about a transliteration, I double-check it against sites like the Vietnamese Wikipedia. And when a character really has me stumped, I leave the POI alone.

If I were to actually translate “Shanghai” into “plain” Vietnamese, the result would be either Trên Biển if I transliterate at the same time or something like 𨕭𣛟 if I don’t. (The Vietnamese language also used ideographic characters until the 20th century, just a different set of characters than Chinese.) No one would ever use the “plain” Vietnamese name, though; Thượng Hải is the only correct way to render this particular city’s name in Vietnamese.

This is just one language out of many that have rich histories of dealing with multiple writing systems. You can imagine that other languages have their own unique considerations.

Machine transliteration is impractical

If we rely on software to localize place names for us, some languages can hope for no better than hack jobs, akin to this humorous map in “English”. (Illustration: imkharn)

There has been plenty of handwaving about renderers and geocoders that are smart enough to transliterate between different writing systems. But consider that Google Translate, with all its NLP might and a corpus the size of the Internet, fares poorly at interpreting Chinese place names. It doesn’t know that 红寺堡 is Hồng Tự Bảo in Vietnamese or “Hongsibao” in English. Your average mapmaker can’t afford that kind of technology anyways.

Software developers have much more experience converting between metric and imperial units than between human languages. Even though Sino-Vietnamese words aren’t “plain”, modern Vietnamese words, their meanings are often not lost on Vietnamese speakers today. Any schoolchild could tell you that thượng hải means trên biển (upon the sea), an apt name for a major port city. But a multilingual software client, burdened with the knowledge that thượng could also mean 㐀 = “hill”, or 㠪 = “five”, or 尙 = “yet”, would need a lot of resources to make a decision:

  1. Natural language processing (NLP), a form of artificial intelligence
  2. Context about the city and common naming practices
  3. A decent, machine-readable, suitably licensed dictionary for that particular language pair
  4. Possibly even dedicated logic for each character, multiplied by the number of transliteration schemes

Then there are suggestions that IPA transcriptions could be tagged as an intermediate step. But IPA comes with its own headaches, like whether to transcribe broadly or narrowly. Consider the number of valid English pronunciations of “north”, then consider that the same Chinese script is used by a host of mutually-unintelligible language varieties.

It wouldn’t be possible to derive the Sino-Vietnamese name from an IPA or Pinyin transcription, anyways, because they have different many-to-many mappings between characters and words. Shàng (Pinyin) doesn’t just correspond to 上; it also corresponds to the following characters, as would an IPA transcription based on Mandarin: 上姠尙尚蠰銄鑜. On the other hand, thượng (Sino-Vietnamese) corresponds to a very different set of Chinese characters: 㐀㠪丄仩上鞜妴尙尚鞝躺𠄞. Spoken Mandarin and Vietnamese have evolved so much over the centuries that, if a system like Sino-Vietnamese were invented today based on modern Mandarin pronunciation instead of Middle Chinese, it would employ a completely different set of words for each character.

There is a consensus at least that automatic transliteration does not belong in OSM, because it cannot be verified for accuracy. But excluding handcrafted transliterations from OSM forces data consumers to foist those same automatic, unverified algorithms upon their users. The result is the worst of both worlds: poor support due to the effort required and poor quality due to a lack of context.

Camping Trip in Yosemite

Posted by lewis1286 on 5 June 2015 in English (English)

This is a test Diary post about upcoming camping trip in Yosemite

Location: Miguel Meadow Fire Road, Tuolumne County, California, United States of America

How to deal with lines

Posted by Dakon on 5 June 2015 in English (English)

Recently I stumbled over the key "lines". According to taginfo there exist about 6500 objects with this key, a number that has been decreasing the last days as I deleted quite a lot of them (the keys, not the objects). From what I see there are 3 different usages of this key:

  1. to tag which public transport lines are serviced here, so this may be a lines=U1 on a railway=subway or even on a railway=platform. Whereever I found that and the object was already part of a proper type=route route=(some public transport thing) for all of the lines keys, I simply deleted them. Given the relatively small number of these object noone can create any reasonable public transport information from these tags. public_transport relations do a far better job for them, and they are much more popular. Given the age of almost every instance of these keys on the objects they clearly predate the public_transport relations, and simply had not been removed when the relations were introduced. So whenever you care for public transport tagging anywhere please check if there are lines keys in the objects you edit, and if their information is contained in a proper relation, then just remove the lines keys.

  2. to tag something that has a different key. I clicked a bit around in the OverPass queries linked from the taginfo page and any instance I found highway=* lines=* it should have been "lanes" instead. There are also some instances of railway=* lines=*, where I guess tracks would be the right key (at least for lines=1 and lines=2). In case you want to touch any of them: prefer to tag every track as it's own way and not use the "tracks" key. I assume that almost any combination of lines with either highway or railway is wrong and should be fixed.

  3. to tag something entirely different. There is one instance of lines=1 in North America where this gives the number of power lines between poles. There are some instances of lines=phone where this tells you that there are telephone wires. There are some instances of lines=no or yes which tell you that this is a basketball court that may or may not have markings. I personally would not touch these taggings as it is clear to a human what they mean, and deleting them without replacing it with a proper tagging would destroy information (how relevant or not they may be).

From my point of view it would be great if all instances of #1 and #2 would be removed from the database. But simply deleting them is not the way forward, one should do it with care. The way to get rid of the greatest numbers of them is to introduce proper public_transport relations where they are missing, e.g. for some of the S-Bahn lines in Hamburg or U-Bahn in Stuttgart. In case you are bored and any of these tags are in an area you care about: check what is the proper tagging, and let's get rid of lines.

OAM-QGIS-plugin: Project setup and research

Posted by tassia on 5 June 2015 in English (English)

Basic project setup

Coding guidelines:

  1. Use qtcreator for GUI layout/development and for defining most of the common signals/slots for the GUI components
  2. Do not change any generated code directly but create a subclass and then override/extend it, to keep our code and the automatically generated code separated
  3. Use QgisPluginCreator that has some basics setup (eg. internationalzation support)
  4. Package any external python modules as part of the plugin

Research summary

OpenAerialMap (OAM) is an open service that will provide storage and search within a collection of openly licensed satellite and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery. OAM will facilitate the processing and provision of imagery for humanitarian response and disaster preparedness, making it easier to determine what imagery is available and where it is. OAM Catalog will be used for indexing and OAM Browser for searching.

A blog post from DevSeed introduces the beta version of this service which is already available.

The Open Imagery Network (OIN) is a consortium and specification of imagery providers led by HOT and Planet [1]. Imagery indexes from all participating providers will be merged into the main OIN index through a GitHub repository. Providers will host an index of all their dataset and add the URI to the main OIN index in GitHub.

The OAM Server will be responsible for processing data directly from providers of aerial imagery or from existing Open Imagery Network (OIN) nodes [2]. Once a new imagery is uploaded, the Server will trigger a tile engine instance to create a tiled map service and save it to a specific storage (eg. S3 bucket). It will also create the needed metadata and submit it to the OAM catalog to be indexed and easily searcheable. Check specifications for OAM metadata and OIN metadata for more details. Each stored image will carry such metadata.

The development of the OAM server is schedule for the period between June 15h and August 15th 2015 [3]. Gitter chat is used as the main channel of communication with weekly meetings on Thursdays at 18h00 UTC.

There are so many new terms involved in this work that having a list of acronyms will give a hand to our lazy memory.



Missing Maps London: June mapping party

Posted by pedrito1414 on 3 June 2015 in English (English)

Just wanted to share some thoughts from the mapping party at Imperial College in London last night.

The London mapathons have always been a place of excellent collaboration and idea exchange and for that reason this is where we try to meet anyone who wants to collaborate with us. I just wanted to share some of the conversations I had or overheard.

Imperial College students in the iD room (different rooms for iD and JOSM users this month) were discussing how they thought they could help Missing Maps and HOT automate some our processes.

Matt from Accenture, who had volunteered at the Accenture corporate mapathon, dropped by to discuss how he and his colleagues might be able to collaborate on helping us quantify the contribution of our mappers, to better plan our tasking and develop tools.

Ny came down from Loughborough, where he is doing a masters, to discuss Missing Maps collaboration on his thesis.

Carmen from MSF recruited some of our JOSM users to support her remotely when she goes field mapping in Bangladesh in July.

Joseph from Reuters was there talking to the HOTties for a story he is planning to write on Missing Maps.

These are just some examples, but it was clear last night that the Missing Maps London mapping parties are becoming so much more than a group of people mapping. The project is coming alive and growing legs and wings (and possibly other bits).

It's beautiful to see and a privilege to be a part of (and we did loads of mapping!)

Great work from iD editors in South Sudan

By the way, a huge thanks to Astrid and the Imperial College Friends of MSF student society for organising such a great event! Without these guys, none of this would be happening

Location: South Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

Belgian Mapper of the Month : Joost Schouppe

Posted by escada on 3 June 2015 in English (English)

Nederlandse Tekst

Texte français

Joost Schouppe

Joost Schouppe is a sociologist. He followed those studies because in his opinion, they are the least specialized that exist. He works in a social studies research center that covers a wide range of subjects. Most of the time the projects have both statistical and geographical aspects, trying to convert data hidden in databases into knowledge. This gave him the opportunity to study data processing in SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences )and made him discover the fascinating world of ArcGIS. A lot of his there is published on the neighborhood monitor of the city of Antwerp, a geostatistical platform. Besides his job, Joost loves being in nature and is fan of atlases, encyclopedia and travel guides. He prefers them in an open and digital format, but does not neglect the others.

How did you discover OpenStreetMap?

I re-discovered OpenStreetMap when I got my first smartphone. I wanted to use maps when I was abroad and did not want to pay for roaming costs. The first time I used OpenStreetMap was with OsmAnd. During a crowded walk, it showed me an alternative path, with not one other hiker.

Do you use OpenStreetMap yourself?

After a bad experience with an expensive GPS-map for South Africa, I switched to OsmAnd for a trip to the Dominican Republic, where we travelled around for about a month in a 4x4. The map was usable, but still much work to do. I also still remember the "shock" when I realized that I had to draw a miles long meandering road by hand instead of just importing the GPX track generated by the device. I already have an account since 2008. At that moment I planned to map the Bolivian village where I lived at the time. Unfortunately, there was nothing mapped in that area, there was not even aerial imagery available and I did not have a GPS back then. Only in 2013 I started to really contribute.

My wife and I are keen travelers. Close to home, it means exploring the nearby forests (even in Flanders, you can still add a path in every forest), but we are now back from a trip through South-America in a camper (blog) where we did over 32.000 km and navigated a year long with OsmAnd. You can believe me, the map is ready for navigation. In some towns, it might be more difficult, for example because turn restrictions aren't often mapped and is the infrastructure sometimes pretty chaotic. During the voyage, I taught my wife to take notes and POIs in OsmAnd. After awhile, she started to question me, "shouldn't we report that mistake here?". And of course we created tracks all the time. This is especially handy for small hiking paths and areas that have a lot of clouds in the aerial images. In Peru, I believe that all main roads can use some extra "improve geometry" sessions too.

How do you map?

I do not specialise in anything when it comes to mapping. Because of that, and because I prefer software that does not require a manual, I never made the effort to learn JOSM. But Potlatch is more useful than most people believe. Most of my work is in empty areas. I scan aerial images for roads and settlements, without planning anything in advance.

On my smartphone, I only use OsmAnd. That can do everything. With some attention to detail, you can place most POIs rather accurately. When the map is too complex, or when I do not know the tags, or when I cannot edit it with OsmAnd, I make a note. By now, I am in the worldwide top-50 note users. It is fun to close notes, because you learn to map the most diverse features. I added my first turn restriction because there were several notes of this type in La Paz, Bolivia that were open for some months.

I once gave Mapillary a try, but with little success: the battery of my smartphone was drained, even with a connected charger. I could not run the navigation on the foreground and in a couple of hours all free space was consumed. I will keep trying though.

One of my first projects was to map the area around Coroico. I know the area very well, because I mapped the whole area before, on paper. Strictly speaking, this is armchair mapping and this is still what I do the most. But I only do this in areas that I know more or less, which does help to interpret the the satellite images.

Even though I'm late to the party, my first contributions were mainly new roads and paths. This is a good training school, you cannot make a lot of mistakes. You can't really do this anymore in most of Europe of course, unless you are interested in paths in forests. Five years after my initial plan, I finally started to map that Bolivian village, Coroico. Probably the most detailed village in South America by now. In that region I scanned hundreds square kilometers for settlements and roads.

When I needed administrative boundaries for my project, I worked on this topic a bit. A lot of cleanup has been done all over the world since then. I received a lot of help from user Wambacher, who was interested in this topic to improve the quality of his boundary tool.

The usage of the map in South America made me realize how important and difficult it is to determine the road classification. In Belgium, we regard the state of a road as a detail, something like "is it a street with cobblestones or did they use paving stones ". In countries with a less developed road network, the first thing you want to know is whether or not you can even take the road with your vehicle. Although the data is there in some cases, there are not enough applications that use the data. I tagged several thousand kilometers of roads with surface tags in Peru and Bolivia. The data is almost complete in Argentina and Chili, and still there are no maps that optimally use this data.

Like many mappers, I guess I am a bit neurotic. It is satisfying to simplify the real, complex world into a few categories. Once you start with something, you want to get rid of the incompleteness in the map data. Be it a few small roads in the Amazone forest in Bolivia that are missing, or complete suburbs of El Alto. Before you realize it, you have been mapping roads for a month or two. And when that is finished, you are bothered by the fact that the landuse mapping in Flanders still has some white spots.

For me, mapping is something like filling in a sudoku. It requires some attention, but in a weird way it is very relaxing. And of course it is more useful.

I also believe that more data means that it will be used more, leading to more contributors. When OpenStreetMap has the best data of the road network in Bolivia --- and guess what, it is --- more organizations will use that data. On the State of the Map in Buenos Aires, there was a presentation from a Bolivian federal agency that protects the rainforest. They talked about how they use OpenStreetMap. They gave an example of a trip to the other side of the country, where OpenStreetMap showed him a "shortcut", while everybody else told him to make a detour of 800 km. The idea that you, or someone like yourself, might have drawn that road, gives you a special feeling.

What are you most proud of as a mapper ?

I can think of several things, but nothing is good enough to be really proud of. I usually lose interest in a topic when it is almost finished. Luckily that is no problem in OpenStreetMap, one day someone else will finish the job.

Do you contribute in other ways to OpenStreetMap ?

Unfortunately, I am someone that produces a lot of ideas, but not a lot of products. OpenStreetMap culture is very much do-it-yourself, so reactions to these ideas aren't always very positive. I tend to keep some ideas to myself, but often I can't control myself. I am active on and, both to assist or to seek assistance.

I am working on a project using Swing to represent the evolution of OpenStreetMap, at the level of regions around the world. The progress is slower than I hoped, even though I got a lot of help from several very kind people in the OpenStreetMap community. Especially Ben Abelshausen has been amazing. It was a wonderful experience to get the chance to present the project at State of the Map in Buenos Aires, even though I would have like to be able to present a more finished project (Video).

Being part of the overlander community for a year, I thought I needed to convince my fellow travellers to use OpenStreetMap. That was unnecessary: most of them navigate with OpenStreetMap anyway. Unfortunately, most apps do little to convert data users to data contributors. One app that does more is OsmAnd. But it isn't the most user friendly one. That's why I wrote a long blogpost on how you can use OsmAnd for your own needs and meanwhile improve the map too. That has been quite a popular post, but it is in dire need of an update now that version 2.0 is out. Of course it would be great if other apps implemented some of the feedback tools too. That isn't too much to ask, no?

Another thing I would like to do is to organize a mapping party in my hometown Ghent. But I told you already about how my ideas take some time to materialize.

What are your ideas about growing the OpenStreetMap Community?

OpenStreetMap grows in a self-reinforcing virtuous circle. More data means more data usage. Data consumers can be converter to contributors. One time contributors can be converted to regular contributors. But the conversion rate is not constant. Apps such as OsmAnd have an higher conversion rate than Maps with Me. iD is supposed keep more mappers coming back than Potlatch did. Every contribution to the development of OpenStreetMap is part of this process, be it contributions to data, better usage of data, conversion of new users, better retention of new mappers

What is the key feature OpenStreetMap?

One of the strongest points is of course the flexibility and the freedom. We are only united by the common, ambitious, somewhat crazy idea to map the whole world. This allows everyone to chose their own topics, which leads to a general purpose map. The reason that som many procedures are so long winded and difficult to accomplish, is because procedures do not belong in the OpenStreetMap-world. There is a fantastic book that describes this phenomenom, Swarmwise by Falkvinge. The similarities between OpenStreetMap and the political movement is amazing. In short: start with one person with a slightly crazy (or ambitious) idea. Let this be executed by a group of people, that have to freedom to put their own accents. Furthermore, only let the execution be done by people that enjoy doing it, and that are not motivated by a reward. The book is also a practical guide. The challenges and opportunities that are described in the book, are the same as the OpenStreetMap community is facing. Recommended ! And of course, free to [download](]

What are the challenges for OpenStreetMap ?

For me, the biggest problem seems to be that the a lot of data is not used. Because you can map a wide variety of things, the map on the website only gives a limited introduction. I also fear that people that want to work around one specific theme, will opt for a separate database, because that is easier to work with. Nevertheless it is easy to create a rich community around a specific feature. Take e.g. a look at the huge success of iOverlander. This app allows the user to easily find campsites suitable for campers. Those sites are tagged with information such as the availability of internet, water, etc. Everybody can contribute, correct, review. OpenStreetMap loses the contributions of all those people and they miss the connection with a map that guides you to the site. My dream is an iOverlander app that only uses data from OpenStreetMap. When that app would be easily adaptable for other interest groups, you have a killer app that OpenStreetMap needs. I really like the idea of Coffeedex, but the topic might be a bit controversial for a first roll out.

How do you stay on top of OpenStreetMap news ?

There are many channels, often with their own community. I can hardly follow all the mailing lists, besides the common one for Latin America. On the fora, there is not a lot of action {Editor's note: except perhaps the German one]. The Help site is not known enough, although it is fantastic for specific questions. I even think I had to discover this website via Google. Furthermore there is OSMweekly, the diaries and the Reddit group. This can be better in my opinion. I like Reddit a lot, all readers contribute to the evaluation of each new post and each comment. The consequence is that the most important information automatically comes out. It would be great when all OpenStreetMap news sources could be combined like that.

Do you have contacts with other mappers ?

Locally, I have met Ben and Jorieke several time. Thanks to the Meetups they organised in Ghent. Last year, I visited several of them and met several other mappers during those gatherings. I also keep close contact with Marco Antonio, one of the most renomated mapper in Bolivia.

Adding lake names to Ireland

Posted by rorym on 3 June 2015 in English (English)

In Ireland, we are adding townlands based on some old GSGS sheets. Read more here

As well as townlands, these are great for adding names of features, such as lakes. Overpass Turbo can help with this.

If you go to this Overpass page and zoom to an area and press "run", it will show you all unnamed lakes. Then "Export", then "JOSM". It'll have opened up those unnamed lakes in your JOSM. Use the GSGS maps to add the name (and "water=lake" as appropriate). You don't need to download any extra data. Upload when done!

It's surprising how many unnamed lakes there are in OSM, and this can help you really knock some off.

I use JOSM's filter feature, with the query "name=* and water=*" to hide lakes that I've already named. This makes it easier to work through the items.

personal link

Posted by Govanus on 2 June 2015 in English (English)

Bridge Road, Birchville, Upper Hutt, New Zealand

Posted by Huttite on 2 June 2015 in English (English)

Realignment to Bing imagery. Added cutting at start of the road. Added bridge over Clarke's Creek and extended the waterway to the Hutt River. Also realigned Birch Terrace on opposite side of the river to join Akatarawa Road, not Rata Street and add open drain that was not shown. Also reshaped Birchville Dam reservoir. Not perfect, as some significant alignment discrepancies compared to LINZ plotted features, such as cliff edges on the river. Probably needs some GPS traces to plot features more accurately.

Location: -41.094, 175.095

Reading map data on MapaDCuba app.

Posted by Laura Barroso on 2 June 2015 in English (English)

Trying to read from a pbf file in order to obtain all map data or at list the street names as a start on MapaDCuba app, that could be really good for searches proposes since it is an app that works totally offline, if I made it the app will have a great content value...came out with two solutions: the first is use graphhopper as an start point since it has all the street names, study how it works with it, that could be an start point...the second is import all data to a database directly using perhaps ArGis Editor for OSM to import the data and then work with it inside the app, don't fancy very much this solution but still is a possibility.

Wallaceville walkways, Upper Hutt, New Zealand

Posted by Huttite on 2 June 2015 in English (English)

I started off with the intention of mapping a few walkways near Wallaceville Railway Station and things sort of developed from there. Once I had aligned the imagery to the railway line between Ward and Blenheim Street crossings, I found that several nearby streets did not align with road centrelines, although others in the same area did align. Have made several small adjustments to various features, often moving road centrelines less than a road width (perhaps 3 or 4 metres) to line things up with road markings. And it just went on from there, as I saw more and more little discrepancies, incorrect and incomplete information. and missing parking areas, building outlines and other features. I can see myself taking a good walk around town with a new set of mapping eyes on and taking note of what I see.

Location: Elderslea, Upper Hutt, Upper Hutt City, Wellington, New Zealand

Sikkim stories

Posted by shashikant23 on 2 June 2015 in English (English)

Sikkim stories 8 Recently updated ! There is something magical about a monastery that cannot be explained. It has always been my dream for many years to wake up and see the snowy Kangchendzonga, to photograph frozen lakes enroute to Nathulla Pass, to meander around dreamy rivers like the Teesta and lose myself in misty monasteries […]

Sikkim, mountains, sunrise



Hello OSM community!

Posted by tassia on 2 June 2015 in English (English)

I'm one of the OSM Outreachy interns and the aim of my project is to develop a QGIS plugin for OpenAerialMap.

I'll use this diary to document my progress, and I'd love to have feedbacks from the community along the way.

Happy hacking!


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