Amaroussi's diary

Recent diary entries

Light up my way! (First Anniversary)

Posted by Amaroussi on 31 October 2013 in English (English)

This is a follow-up to my post from 21 December 2012

Street light data for London

Source: (Flickr)

London, the birthplace of OpenStreetMap, is already the largest city in the world to have lots of street light data. When I accepted the contributor terms a year ago today, it didn't have much.

This is the state of street lights, one year on – probably worthy of a mention on the weekly summary, but how do I get older snapshots of the OSM maps so I can compare it?

Happy Diwali everyone.

Location: Holborn, St Giles, London Borough of Camden, London, Greater London, England, WC1B, United Kingdom

US Prism Surveillance Scandal

Posted by Amaroussi on 7 June 2013 in English (English)

You may have noticed a major scandal involving the United States surveillance of telephone records and internet servers.

May the OpenStreetMap Foundation please reassure all users over the situation. I understand that all of our servers are in the UK as far as I know, and I assume that the OSMF does not knowingly give out details to the PRISM programme.

You might also want to entice UK users to help US users speak out as well. Bilateral relations aren't always politics.


A Greek nightmare in road classification

Posted by Amaroussi on 14 May 2013 in English (English)


Amaroussi is working around the clock to resolve Greece's road classification nightmare.

OpenStreetMap users and editors may be aware that I am trying to solve a major issue regarding road numbers and classification in Greece, following my visit to the country last year. Additionally, I have discovered a very old government document regarding the classification of Greece's Provincial Roads.

The problem

At present, many of the National and Provincial roads are unnumbered, and I have been trying to introduce numbers based on interpolation and the 1963 list of national roads. As an interim measure, secondary roads had refs based on their destinations, whereas the Leonidos-Sparta road had ref=Leo-Spa (in Greek).

Last weekend I stumbled upon SkyscraperCity's forum topic on Greek highways and it appears that the road numbering system is very patchy.

Firstly, According to user ea1969, new numbers were added without proper consideration for the growing motorway network. Motorways then completely replaced National Roads without considering prohibited traffic.

Secondly, there is a provincial road numbering system and there is a pilot of the scheme at Alexandras Avenue since this morning using ref=EΠ8, based on the position it appeared for the entry regarding Attica's provincial roads. The problem is that it dates from 1956. Yes, 1956 - it has not been updated since.

This means that there going to be roads between towns and strategic municipality-maintained roads without the recently-discovered EΠ numbers, which makes the situation complex.

The solution (?)

The objective of OpenStreetMap is to be as useful to cyclists and pedestrians as much as motorists. In the UK, we know very well that road numbers are very useful and I hope to make it useful to our Greek users as well.

The advantage for OpenStreetMap over other Internet maps of Greece is that other maps either mistake Motorways for some National Roads, or simply just guess the route, which leads to overlapping sections. In both scenarios, they leave out Provincial Roads completely.

I have been doing actual research to figure out what the exact route of every National Road was and what it might look like today. That means that with consultation with actual government documents and Greek road enthusiasts, OpenStreetMap has the advantage to represent the most accurate road network of Greece to date in respect of road numbering.

As you will have noticed, I have been reviewing National Roads in Attica and the Peloponnese, as well as provincial roads between villages and towns. Over the next few months, I will be piloting a new provincial road system in the area with EΠ numbers, based on the position it appeared for the entry regarding each province's provincial roads at the time.

However, to implement this I am proposing major changes to how we classify roads Greece:

  1. National Roads may be re-tagged as Trunk roads instead of Primary roads, so that Provincial Roads will become Primary roads instead of Secondary roads. This will free up the Secondary road tag for key municipal roads and roads between towns that were built after 1956.
  2. To disambiguate between Expressways and National Roads, Expressways will be tagged with motorroad=yes. At present the trunk road tag is visually underused in Greece, and this has a negative effect of making National and Provincial Roads appear barely visible on MapQuest Open.

I just hope that one day the Greek Government will tidy up the road numbering system. Maybe our intervention will restore credibility to Greece's patchy road numbering system.


Just before I sign-off this post, I want to enquire how I could start my own OSM server for creative and testing purposes? Thank you.

Location: Plaka, Athens, Municipality of Athens, Regional Unit of Central Athens, Attica, Attica Administration, 10558, Greece

Re: Crowd-serfing by Derick Rethans

Posted by Amaroussi on 12 April 2013 in English (English)

I plan to tweak the Mapnik code in the middle-term to see how I can make the map visually better.

Mysterious Data Disappearance

Posted by Amaroussi on 12 April 2013 in English (English)

I am nearly reaching six months with OpenStreetMap. In over 1,250 changesets, I have:

  1. Introduced street light and sidewalk data to London
  2. Added the London Congestion Charge
  3. Rebuilt junctions such as the one at Bricklayers Arms
  4. Restored missing roads in Greece and repaired the "refs" that give them the road numbers.
  5. Improved London bus routes such as Route 38

While we have different styles of editing, it has come to my attention that some of such data are mysteriously disappearing, not because of a very short-lived error with ITO's maps, but some users are confused about how to do certain tasks. Our editors have put a herculean effort to get this far, and my fear is that some good-faith edits may be confused for malicious editing, and it still happens occasionally.

Issue 1: No explanation

Firstly, please provide an explanation for every changeset if you are replacing or deleting data, otherwise other users may mistaken the changeset for malicious editing. Malicious editing still occurs occasionally, and I have recently reported one.

Issue 2: "Too much data!"

Next, some users have been deleting or curtailing attributes from ways because they think that there is too much data. On OpenStreetMap, however, there is no such thing as too much attributes (practically). Therefore, please do not delete attributes unless you are certain that they are obvious vandalism, completely unused (e.g. an untagged way with no visual purpose), out of date (e.g. bus stop relocated), clearly illogical (speed limits on a footpath) or erroneous (e.g. I recently dealt with a building that was accidentally uploaded over 9,000 times larger than its original size). Again, please provide an explanation for every changeset.

Issue 3: Modifying ways for relation routing

Some users have been deleting or curtailing ways because they think that doing so is the only way to create a new way to fix an issue, such as routing a relation. If you want to split a way for that, it is easy and it preserves the attributes for both parts.

  1. In Potlatch, select the way, the select the desired node, then press X or click the "scissors" icon.
  2. In JOSM, select the way, shift-select the desired node, then press P (P presumably stands for "partition").

Issue 4: Potlatch 2 hides complex data in simple mode

Finally, some users are unaware of complex data on ways in Potlatch 2's simple mode (we could do with adding a notice to the editor's window). The fact is that some tags such as street lighting and bus lanes are not visible in Potlatch 2 simple mode, but I am aware they are planning to replace it with something called iD. Again, the best way to split a way is the workaround under the subsection "Issue 3".

I hope this helps new users get used to editing on OpenStreetMap. We could do with improving the interface, though, and we are working on that.

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

Extending to JOSM

Posted by Amaroussi on 3 April 2013 in English (English)

After over 1,000 changesets, I have begun using JOSM - one of my first uses for this program is to correctly order all the bus and railway routes. That would please the OSM Inspector, which reports that many of the London routes are not ordered correctly...

Hold on a minute, that data hasn't been updated since 27 February 2013. What is going on?

Location: Canonbury, London Borough of Islington, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

A quick word

Posted by Amaroussi on 1 April 2013 in English (English)

Two things: just before the April Fools' Day time runs out (UK time) I'd like to inform OSM that the Foundation plans to expand to Mars, allowing users to create the first ever Free Wiki World map for Mars.

Secondly, and on a more serious note: the congestion charge zone is done. Now it is time for me to do the clean-up of the rejected prototypes.

Right, I'm outta here, ta!

London Congestion Charging

Posted by Amaroussi on 28 February 2013 in English (English)

In the 8 years of OpenStreetMap, it is extraordinary that London's Congestion Charging zone has not been properly mapped. Some road navigation systems are now using OpenStreetMap - the absence of the Congestion Charging zone on OSM means that some drivers are accidentally driving into the zone without being aware of the £10-a-day cost.

To bridge the gap, I am gradually adding "toll=yes" to affected roads as an interim measure, but in the long term we will need a dedicated standard tag to indicate the Congestion Charge zone because the Congestion Charge does not apply to pedestrians, cyclists, taxis, TfL buses and motorcyclists. I feel that a dedicated tag is necessary because I note that there are similar schemes in the world, including Milan, Singapore, Stockholm and Durham.

Contributors are invited to discuss the future of mapping the Congestion Charge on OpenStreetMap. I think that OpenStreetMap is no longer a map just for cyclists and pedestrians, but for just about everyone.

Location: Holborn, St Giles, London Borough of Camden, London, Greater London, England, WC1B, United Kingdom

Bricklayers' Arms Subways - 1970-2013

Posted by Amaroussi on 10 February 2013 in English (English)

Farewell to the Bricklayers Arms Subway - South Subway

Farewell to the Bricklayers Arms Subway - South Subway by myself on Flickr

Bricklayers' Arms Subways

The resulting map.

The subways will be filled up from the middle of February 2013, but who cares?!

Location: Walworth, London Borough of Southwark, London, Greater London, England, SE17, United Kingdom

When postcodes go wrong...

Posted by Amaroussi on 22 January 2013 in English (English)

Caledonian Road Area

Surely this area can't be part of the N17 postcode area: it's N7 instead! Additionally, searching for N1 doesn't return a postcode centroid for N1.

What is causing all the problems?

Location: Lower Holloway, London Borough of Islington, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

Hardly the end of the world...

Posted by Amaroussi on 21 December 2012 in English (English)

London lighting data

Source: (Flickr)

We are 100% certain that today is NOT the end of the world: certainly not when 99% of all trunk roads within the M25 now have lighting data. To make it even better, the Southall and Mildmay areas have a lot more detail than when I first joined OpenStreetMap in late-October.

Here are a summary of improvements:


99% of the trunk roads and motorways within the M25 London have street light data. The next phase of this project is to extend such data to 99% of primary, secondary and tertiary roads. These roads are all-purpose, meaning that cyclists and pedestrians will use it.


Not celebrating Christmas does not imply that we can't improve Southall during that time: so far, we have added street light data, previously uncovered alleyways and tracks, footpaths and cycleways (particularly with car parks and recreational parks). We have also marked out tertiary roads, places of interest, businesses and key places of worship for the Sikh and Hindu community.


So far, we have added street light data, traffic calming information. We also marked out previously uncovered footpaths, tertiary roads, and added many businesses and points of interest. We also added all the bus routes around the area.

Location: Norwood Green, Southall, London Borough of Ealing, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

Light up my way!

Posted by Amaroussi on 20 November 2012 in English (English)

Streetlights affect how you plan a safe road journey at night - another thing Google Maps cannot do. Recently, Transport for London has removed the lights from the Hammersmith Flyover (A4) and parts of the Westway (A40), and this means that drivers need to take extra care at night.

Mapping the streetlights on London’s roads is one of OpenStreetMap’s aims, and recently I have added relevant data for many London roads, including the A4 and the aforementioned sections that TfL have removed the streetlights.

Did you know that you can drive from London to Newbury using only roads with streetlights? You obviously cannot use the M4 (unlit between Junctions 8/9-10 and 12-13), but the A4 instead (except for the detour to avoid the Hammersmith flyover).

Addendum: I should also point out that you can also drive to Southend using only roads with streetlights, by following the A13.

Addendum II: I should also also point out that most of my data came from driving trips over the last two years, as well as recent public transport trips within the M25. I respect the privacy of the drivers given the current problems with cyber-bullying on the internet, but thanks.

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

Improving Canonbury and Mildmay Park

Posted by Amaroussi on 2 November 2012 in English (English)

Hello cartographers, I would like to introduce myself as a mapper for the Canonbury and Mildmay Park area in North London. OpenStreetMap Users who visit this area often will notice that I have either added or improved many new features in the area because I live around there.

Key improvements include more bus routes, gates and pedestrian paths: for example, it is possible to walk from Mildmay Avenue to Mildmay Park without using Balls Pond Road.

Remember, making OpenStreetMap better than Google maps in terms of quality is dependent on contributions from local people like you. Therefore, if you know a lot about your local area, please join in: Phyllis Pearsall did not use the GPS when she created the original A-Z.

Location: Mildmay Park, London Borough of Islington, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
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