Sam Wilson's diary

Recent diary entries

New data sources available for Western Australian roads

Posted by Sam Wilson on 13 December 2016 in English (English)

The Main Roads department of Western Australian recently released quite a few datasets under the Creative Commons Attribution licence. We have explicit permission to use two of these in OSM: the Road Network (MRWA-514) and Road Hierarchy (MRWA-515).

I'm part of a local geogeeks group that meets fortnightly in Perth, and with the help of some people far more knowledgeable than me about spatial stuff I've been attempting to derive a comparison between the Main Roads data and what's already in OSM. That's a work in progress (eventually it'll spit out an OSM file containing only correctly-attributed roads that are missing from OSM), but for the time being I'm going down a much more manual route:

1. Download shapefile from the site linked above

2. Use ogr2osm to convert it to OSM format:

python RoadNetworkMRWA_514/RoadNetworkMRWA_514_1.shp -o mrwa514.osm`

3. Create a JOSM style file that makes the names stand out:

way[cwy=Single] {
text: auto;
width: 3;
color: #c0c0c0;
text: "road_name";
text-position: line;
text-offset: 14;
font-size: 16;
font-color: lightyellow;

4. Mostly, road geometry is actually already in OSM, but the names and road types aren't. To make it easier to find where to work, I apply filters in JOSM to hide everything apart from roads with no names. Then it's just a matter of clicking a road, adding its info, and as soon as it's got a name it disappears (thanks to the filter).

This is still pretty slow, but it's safe. I'm sure there's going to be lots of better ways to work with this, but at least some missing names (and geometries) are being fixed.

I'll use source:name=Main Roads Western Australia to designate where the name has come from. The geometries I'm double-checking against Bing.

Location: Northbridge, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Mapping while travelling

Posted by Sam Wilson on 25 April 2016 in English (English)

I'm on the move at the moment, currently in Spain visiting Menorca and Mallorca, and have been using OsmAnd on my phone a lot. It's a great program! Especially the bus stops and routes. I just want to say thank you to everyone who's mapped these things; it really is worth it! And using OSM data in this way has given me more enthusiasm for contributing more transport data in my home town.

The only drama I've had with OsmAnd is the GPX-recording, and really that was my fault. For some reason I thought I'd hit 'stop recording' before 'save'... and lost my whole day's travels. Still, at the least the photos I was taking were safely geocoded (and now on Flickr). From now on I'm going to stick to my trusty old Garmin Vista HCx and proper camera.

I've made some small edits to the map, and will try to do more. There's one bit that I'm not sure about, that I shall leave to mappers more au fait with the area than me; I've left a note for that.

I did add my grandparent's old house, Ca'n Ding Ding (nice name eh?)—

Cassa Ding Ding

Location: Cala de Sant Vicenç, Pollença, Serra de Tramuntana, Balearic Islands, Spain

A walk to the 'Cockburn Coast' development

Posted by Sam Wilson on 16 April 2016 in English (English)

I went for a walk yesterday, to see what I could see: Trace

I was not stopped by this sentry ('though she was about 100 mm long so I did duck off around the other side of the shrub):


And carried on to map this lovely bit of path:


A while later I found that Cockburn Road has been temporarily realigned while it's being improved (should at least be a tiny bit safer to cycle along once it's all done).

There are a few new roads being built in this area, so I've added stubs for these on the maps pending someone getting in there with a GPS at some point.

Reinforcement Parade

The rest of my photos are on Flickr (and are geocoded, for easier browsing for later verification of any edits).

Location: North Coogee, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

WordPress plugin "Tabulate" now has OSM export

Posted by Sam Wilson on 23 July 2015 in English (English)

I don't suppose it's of use to many people, but in the interests of adding to the list (somewhere) of software-that-supports-OSM, here's one more:

Or on the WordPress plugin directory:

Location: Beaconsfield, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia

Finding a small bit of an old railway line

Posted by Sam Wilson on 2 January 2014 in English (English)

I didn't know it when I went out this morning that I was on an expedition to find the old Spearwood railway junction. (Isn't that the whole point of this sort of ramble though? Not knowing. Although, it'd be nice to know what's not known in OSM I guess...)

On the way, I filled in a few more street names, and took some more photos of market gardens that are almost certainly soon to be "redeveloped" and never seen any more. A nice morning, and far better than being at work. (Ha! A whole nother week to go yet of the hols!)

The northern part of the walk was reasonably dull (by which I do not mean to imply that it was not enjoyable, just not interesting; dull walks are sometimes the most fun... if you see what I mean? Xavier de Maistre would get it perhaps. But then again, perhaps not.) There was a leaky footpath though.

(Who else takes photos of bus-stop poles, by the way? OSM people only, I assume.)

Once the prospect of a railway formation was gained, however, that old excitement came, that thing of I'll-just-see-where-this-goes. I did meet a few morning walkers, some with dogs and some old and seemingly deaf to my attempted salutations. One chap on his front lawn attempted to glare me out of his street, but I grew bold (for once; meandering with GPS and camera often feels a bit conspicuous) and took a photo of the building site opposite his house.

After crossing Spearwood Avenue things changed — visibly, but just as much in that vibe that really determines what any place is like. Few well-tended gardens; a tinted 4WD that stopped to watch my progress along the footpath; more fly-tipping... but then, a gravel path with the distinct feeling of being curvacious and level enough to have once been a railway line. A nice thing to think, even if I'd been quite wrong (it was more likely, I thought, to be the easement of some UG asset). Last time I came this way, I went off-track a couple of kilometers following the gas pipe when I was trying to follow the oil pipe...

I assume someone out there knows (much) more than me about the history of this little bit of railway line, but I don't know where to look.

Anyway, here are some incredibly boring photos of street signs in Spearwood:

Location: Spearwood, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Not-very-useful GPS traces

Posted by Sam Wilson on 13 May 2013 in English (English)

I think there must be a very large number of GPS trace points at the intersection of the equator at the prime meridian (what's that place called anyway?).

I'm afraid I've been fool enough to add quite a few of these myself! Oops. Sorry.

I've modified one of the gpsbable scripts that I use to prepare NMEA files, chopping out anything around (0,0), so all should be fine from now on.

Location: 0.000, 0.000

Where did the road go?

Posted by Sam Wilson on 23 July 2012 in English (English)

Don't really even need Mister Bing to fix up some of what's gone from around here:

Screenshot from JOSM, showing GPS traces where Hamtilton Road used to be.


Location: Coogee, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

57 weeks of vehicle movements

Posted by Sam Wilson on 3 November 2011 in English (English)

A bit over a year ago I started uploading weekly dumps of the GPS traces from my company's fleet. I've uploaded a bit over half a gigabyte of data since then, or 20,000 to 50,000 points per week, and party render thinks it looks like this:

File:57 weeks of vehicle tracking.samwilson.png

python -d .. -g none -r 1000 --pos=-32.901318,117.776609

I trace over bits and pieces now and then, but I'm not doing much. I was just wondering whether anyone else is mapping in rural Western Australia and finding these traces useful?

Location: Tincurrin Road, Western Australia, Australia

Lots of GPS traces!

Posted by Sam Wilson on 22 October 2010 in English (English)

I have recently been given permission from the company that I work for to upload the GPS traces from our fleet of vehicles. These are twenty or so trucks and 4WDs that travel the length and breadth of the south-west of Western Australia, often along small roads and farm tracks, etc. They each have a GPS tracker taking readings at 30s intervals and sending these (when possible; there's a delay when out of range) back to a central server via the GSM network.

I get hold of these traces as week-by-week NMEA files (containing all vehicles' data), and convert them to GPX with this gpsbabel command. Then I upload them. They're about 15000-20000 points each.

I'm going to try to get the sampling frequency increased, because there's lots of areas for which these points are too far apart. Although, I guess as the density of points increases (i.e. from multiple trips along the same roads) the topography will become clearer.

Now, the tracing begins! :-) If anyone wants to help....

Location: North Fremantle, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia

Suburban footpaths?

Posted by Sam Wilson on 11 February 2010 in English (English)

I quite enjoy tracing suburban footpaths.

One of the things that turned me off OSM back in the beginning (a few years ago; I can't quite remember when) was its seeming focus on making maps for CARS. I don't like cars! I cycle, or walk, and don't have a driver's license; I want to contribute to maps for walkers and cyclists, not for those silly GPS things that everyone's suctioning to their windscreens these days. (Rhubarb rhubarb.)

Thankfully, I have since realised that OSM is about MAPS, not cars, and that I can contribute whatever parts of the map that I feel are useful. So, I find myself focusing on paths for pedestrians, and because I live in the 'burbs, most of those paths are a) foopaths next to residential streets, and b) paths of desire (oh, such a delightful term!) in those rare bits of non-suburb'd land.

The question is: should one trace these paths individually? I say yes, because the information cannot be captured with tags on a road. But some people say no. Hmm....

I think I'll just keep on as I am. :-)

Long live OSM!

Location: Hilton, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Making use of my work's vehicle tracking

Posted by Sam Wilson on 10 February 2010 in English (English)

I'm setting up a tracking and navigation system for the trucks at work. They've each got a tablet PC (running Windows unfortunately, because of needing MS Access), with a built-in GPS and 3G modem.

So far, the track logging is working, as is the uploading of that data to a central server. The tracks are created continuously, as fast as they can be read off the COM port, and split up into hourly log files.

These tracks are converted to GPX files on the server, and from there will be uploaded to OSM.

Is this an okay approach? We'll end up with buckets of data about regional WA, including fire tracks, power poles, etc. But should I do anything else to prepare it?

The idea is that, once the data's back in from the trucks, I'll trace the tracks and add whatever other data I can (there's photos coming in too).

Location: Beaconsfield, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
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