bri g's diary

Recent diary entries

Northern Nigeria update Feb 14

Posted by bri g on 2 March 2014 in English (English)

I have been mapping Nigeria off and on, mainly the north, for some years now, my first traces collected 2003-5 using my original yellow Garmin etrex, which I think I recovered some how and uploaded.

The first Yahoo imagery was poor and very low res. Imagine the excitement summer 09 when Kaduna became high res and a small community of OSM mapped the town in a matter of a week or so, incredible.

Skip forward to Bing which has been available the two years or more, and I have done my best to keep up with mapping the main roads and the capital, Abuja of course which has been waiting for a basic map presence on OSM for far too far long.

Three weeks ago, user Frank Salat contacted me having seen my edits. He is working on a project in the country and has collected extensive GPS traces of his travels, and also converted those into shapefiles.

Frank has uploaded those GPS / GPX traces up to OSM which is fabulous, and I have been loading his shapefiles into JOSM to cross check where OSM has detail, and where we don't adding it with the help of the GPS traces and the Bing imagery ( which seems to have been added to recently in this region. )

Frank let me know the nature of the work he was conducting in Nigeria, work that is vital and relies on good maps to show ready access to remote villages throughout this extensive area.

The last three weeks have seen some of my most concentrated mapping for some time, I have been concentrating on primary, secondary and tertiary link roads.

The towns would really benefit from some extensive armchair mapping so for all those with a little time on their hands....

Thanks to Frank for the data upload to OSM, may there be more to come. I hope he and his project can continue to benefit from OSM.

Bri G

Location: ABU Ring road, Samaru, Sabon Gari, Kaduna, Nigeria

New BING imagery for Nigeria

Posted by bri g on 25 June 2012 in English (English)

I have been waiting patiently for a couple of years for high res Bing imagery for Abuja and Zaria and other towns in Nigeria. What little data I have for these areas I have contributed to OSM via GPS traces on my all too brief visits over the years and the extensive mapping of Kaduna ( 2009 ) thanks to Bing.

My patience has been rewarded, thank you Bing / Msoft. Calling all 'armchair mappers' please do your best to fill in the gaps here, plenty of work for all and I hope to add names to roads on my next visit while encouraging some local lads to contribute to 'their' map of their town.


Location: Central Business District, Abuja, Municipal Area Council, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria

European city of Culture 2010 : Guimarães, Portugal

Posted by bri g on 31 October 2011 in English (English)

I noticed that Guimarães in Portugal is due to be the European City of culture 2012. A quick look on the map suggests that this town could benefit from some armchair mapping and of course some extensive on the ground survey work.

I will make a start on some of the Bing tracing, but I hope some of the OSM team will contribute also. hope to see this part of the map grow a little, and lets hope some of the Portuguese OSM team can add their local knowledge.

cheers bri

Location: Salgueiral, Creixomil, Guimarães, Braga, Ave, North, 4815, Portugal

Aerial mapping

Posted by bri g on 2 June 2011 in English (English)

Bing has transformed the mapping process no doubt, but there are still many areas that would benefit from high res imagery ( much of Africa for one - Question why is Abuja, capital of the most populated country in Africa still a blur ).

Team Black Sheep seem to have an answer with their amazing aircraft and incredible videos :

Still ,if I was to take up a new hobby like this I doubt I would have a dime or a second left for mapping!

Off to Nigeria in August to write my thesis -( I am sure I can spin in mapping with developing small business networks somehow ! ) - with a pocket full of i Blue 747s to see what I can generate while I am there - but wow, do I want one of those stunt planes ( strictly for mapping purposes of course! )


Location: Europole, Secteur 1, Grenoble, Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 38000, France

GPS vulnerability to hacking - E&T magazine

Posted by bri g on 4 May 2011 in English (English)

A very interesting article from the E&T magazine The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Cheers bri


Posted by bri g on 24 February 2011 in English (English)

I wondered given the current situation there how the mapping was. Tripoli appears to be High Res on BING - perhaps a few armchair mappers could make a little contribution during this period, you never know, it might help some one out.


Chambéry OSM Meetup

Posted by bri g on 16 January 2011 in English (English)

I wanted to thank François ( VDB ) of the Chambéry mapping team for inviting me to join them for a very enjoyable evening last Thursday. I look forward to doing it again soon


Location: Centre-Ville, Chambéry, Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 73000, France

Custom Buttons in JOSM

Posted by bri g on 29 December 2010 in English (English)

With the new BING imagery I have been working in a number of towns and areas that have opened up.

My method of working is to draw a number of roads, then press SHIFT, select them all and tag them appropriately ( ie residential / unclassified etc ).

I have set up two buttons in JOSM which are shortcuts for Tag: Residential Tag Unclassified which is fine, but I then have to manually add the tag source = BING ( which I can do with the entire group.

What I would really like a button which tags the road as a Residential ( etc )with source=BING, a custom button which you can drag and drop the properties you need into it. Of course there may be many other potential uses for such functionality.

What are the chances? It would certainly speed up the tagging and remove potential errors especially when doing a lot of work as BING has now given us a new opportunity to do.

Cheers bri

Location: Village Olympique, Secteur 6, Grenoble, Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 38100, France

Grenoble Christmas Party and Taiz

Posted by bri g on 20 December 2010 in English (English)

Quick note to say great thanks to Christouf and the great turn out at the Grenoble Christmas party last Friday ( ) - nill points for me for forgetting camera to record event - DUH!.

Recent visit to Taiz ( Yemen ) earlier this year meant I was able to map a few streets and put the place on the map, but hardly to my satisfaction - I just should have waited for BING - at least my rather noisy GPS data might give some verification to the accuracy of the sat imagery in terms of offset. It is now open season on so many places to add to the map.

Armchair mappers ( for which I count myself this cold winter ) get cracking - summer can't be too far when street surveys of all we see from BING can take place and all that extra data added.

At least with the BING imagery adding to OSM we will know that there are streets still be be tagged and manually surveyed.

This is a winter for the armchair no doubt - Go OSM

Greetings to all


Location: Village Olympique, Secteur 6, Grenoble, Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Metropolitan France, 38100, France

Hotel or Restaurant - which order?

Posted by bri g on 29 July 2010 in English (English)

I am supposed to be going to a wedding, in fact I will go to the wedding, I thought I would carry a day sack with a camera and my Garmin ( well you never know when a quick mapping opportunity might come up, do you )

Downloaded the area in JOSM - converted it to an IMG file using MKGMAP. Out of interest I checked that the map was in the unit correctly and that the hotel I was going to was there. The hotel was there, but listed in the Garmin as a restaurant.

Checking the Josm data, it is indeed listed as tourism > hotel, and amenity > restaurant.

The Garmin has chosen a priority, and not one that I would agree with, I assume most hotels have restaurants.

Just an observation really - dilemma, do you delete the amenity > restaurant so that the place ( which would list itself as a hotel, with a restaurant ), or fix the MKGMAP method of ordering?

Cheers bri

Location: Ripley Springs, Bakeham House, Runnymede, Surrey, South East, England, United Kingdom


Posted by bri g on 9 June 2010 in English (English)

I have been in Johannesburg for about three weeks, part of the huge crew working on televising the World Cup at the International Broadcast Centre at Soccer City.

Johannesburg is pretty well mapped thanks to good aerial imagery, but a little light on street level detail.

Everyone was briefed on security on arrival and strongly discouraged from leaving the hotel putting paid to mapping for the first couple of weeks, our residence being in the heart of downtown close to one of the less salubrious parts of the city.

It couldn't last, and about a week ago I walked out of the gates of the hotel into the heart of Hillbrow, and have been walking daily since taking notes and making corrections as I go.

I have a hunch that the GPS signals here are quite weak ( is that possible ? does the constellation focus more on the Northern hemisphere ? ). I was without my Garmin Legend HCX for one day and took my older Garmin Legend with me, it was essentially useless downtown and the Legend HCX struggles.

It is not straightforward tagging, and I do have doubts about adding some of the hotels I have walked past onto the map, as I am not sure even I would stay there and my standards are quite low! Still I am a mapper, not a hotel reviewer, its all in the data I suppose. and as for the bars, I absolutely have not added most of the drinking holes I have seen, all of them having a handy sign outside indicating that firearms are not allowed within the premises.

It is a little perplexing finding multiple instances of a road name ( Loveday street for example ( ) ) fairly close to one another - I guess it all to do with the grid system, but it does seem to lack a little imagination, or am I just being very British???

I am keen to try to add as many hotels as I could, in the even that some of the international visitors might, just might be finding their way using OSM, but there really aren't that many in downtown, and some of the places seem to be self contained apartments which are a little hard to categorise.

Using the computers at work for editing as running my laptop with internet on 3G using a local SIM is a bit haphazard. Of course I have no admin rights at work, so the only option was to make JOSM run off the USB stick thanks to Portable Apps and portable Java which works nicely. One hitch is that the WMS plugin seems to need the Webkitimage in the System32 folder which I can't do ( no admin rights ). I had hoped that I could work around by creating a directory I did have read / write rights to and including this in the PATH ( ie path %path%;webkitimage_directory ) - sadly no luck - any clues anyone?

just one more night shift to go.....

cheers - bri

Location: Johannesburg Ward 125, Soweto, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA

Vancouver Winter Olympics

Posted by bri g on 18 February 2010 in English (English)

So what does any decent mapper do when one is working in a new city? Yes you guessed, start checking the map. Vancouver is well mapped, but for a city with a grid there were a large number of short straight roads with tens of nodes which I deemed to be unnecessary ( redundant data ) which I have cleaned up.

And so I have now started adding way points as I pass them on the bus to and from my event site, or as this morning, walking there ( two hours ) . Lots to do and I am just one person, come on team OSM Canada I know you can all do your bit.

On another point can I talk about areas? The whole of the University of British Columbia was and still is tagged as an area - fine no problem, but loading my Garmin HCX with a map derived from an OSM file converted by MKGMAP, it will not allow me to store a way point in a predefined area.

Okay let me explain, if I store the point of exactly where I am that works, but usually I move the pointer to where the data point is, say a post box on the other side of the road, but that is in in an area, so the Garmin says no can do.

My workaround is to store my downloaded OSM and remove the area ( without then uploading ), but I couldn't even store a way point of a golf club building on a golf course. So that is the mild annoyance for today.

cheers bri

Location: Point Grey, Vancouver, Greater Vancouver Regional District, British Columbia, Canada

Top marks for Garmin UK

Posted by bri g on 1 January 2010 in English (English)

Geo Caching in the Dominican Republic.

I had just landed at the airport and taking the cab to my hotel. Stuck my Garmin HCX out of the window for my first decent trace of the day, about 2Km down the road the battery cover flew off, it must have been secured when I changed the batteries.

A fruitless search for it by the side of the road left a rather unusable Garmin Legend HCX - DUH! That was not the worst part of the holiday, but I will not bore you further dear reader.

A call to Garmin UK on Wednesday, and a very helpful chap said, yeah - 'it isn't an accessory that you can buy but I think I have a spare cover in the cupboard'.

The next day I have a new cover free of charge on my doorstep. Top marks Garmin - thanks again from a very happy OSMer

If you want, next time you are passing, the cover is somewhere on the map ( click 'view' )

Bri :)

Location: Los Cerros, Lomas del Sol, Sosúa, Puerto Plata, 57100, Dominican Republic

Trouble in Bayswater

Posted by bri g on 18 November 2009 in English (English)

I was rightly picked up on an errant Post Box reference recently, the post Box outside Bayswater Tube central London. I Cycle past it near every day, I am usually late so have little time to re check my post boxes, so today I did.

Anyway... that is not the point. Looking at the area in JOSM we have examples of recreational parks glued to streets, masking the roads - see Prince's Square just west of Bayswater ( I have not corrected it so it can serve as an example. )
To the West side of this square in the map data we have two roads overlayed over one another with different names.

Again, this is not a big deal and i have not corrected so that it can servce as an example. A street usually does not have two names ( unless there is a former and new name ).

I am not at ease with things glued to other things ( ie streets glued to parks, or rivers glued to boundaries etc ), it doesn't make sense, not in a CAD world or real world for that matter, and i usually unglue them in JOSM . A Boundary would run down the middle of a street, a park neither in a real world or any other is glued to or overlaps a street, they are distinct objects, and thus should be represented as such, especially in an electronic map / representation which has in theory an infinite degree of resolution and detail.

Hopefully i am not being a desperate pedant here, I would be glad if someone could put me straight before I run amok and start 'correcting' things in my style rather than accepted OSM style

cheers bri

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

Nigeria traces October / November 2009

Posted by bri g on 12 November 2009 in English (English)

Before my trip I had high hopes for distributing cheap GPS units to public transport workers and try to get some decent traces starring out from Kaduna. Sadly that didn't happen mainly due to lack of time, I was actually working there, and while mapping seems to absorb nearly all my free time, it doesn't pay the bills!

So I had about 20 days of traces that I have compiled into two sets of GPX traces with large amounts of clutter removed using GPXEdit via JOSM.

I understand some express concern over editing of traces, but when you leave a garmin HCX on overnight in your hotel room ( several nights after JOSM editing ) and it finds lock, you end up with a rather large GPX traces pointing roughly to your room ( on what looks like a drunken walk ) which is of absolutely no value to anyone!

So 23 Mb down to 5.5Mb. At the end of the day, if users are competent, to edit the public Map directly, they are probably okay to remove excess clutter from their private GPX traces, and uploading 'GPX noise' I would argue is a distraction to future editors, not an asset.

Thanks for all the comments from everyone and assistance while I was there, couldn't answer personally as the internet was dreadful.

Now have to schedule my next trip!

cheers bri

Location: Tudun Nupawa, Kaduna South, Kaduna, 2234, Nigeria

highlighting and Marking Unnamed streets on Garmin ??

Posted by bri g on 6 November 2009 in English (English)

Okay - so I have been a bit busy trying to map kaduna. The ariel imagery was great and little has needed to be added, though I am collecting all my GPX traces for upload on my return to the UK.

What I have been adding is tags, local details, banks, hotels and street names etc.

When I downloaded the Nigeria map for Garmins ( IMG format ) from Cloudmade all the unnamed streets were highlighted in red which was really useful.

This download understandably is only updated weekly and I am currently completing nightly builds of Kaduna OSM, saving that ( from JOSM ) and using MKGMAP to convert to an IMG.

My question is, does anybody have a tool that will allow me to mimic Cloudmade's OSM to IMG tool and highlight streets in Red making my life a bit easier?

cheers bri

Location: Yakubu Gowon Way, Shaba, Kaduna North, Kaduna, 2234, Nigeria

Kaduna November 09

Posted by bri g on 4 November 2009 in English (English)

I had mapped most of k Kaduna with a lot of help of OSMers out there in July after it came up in high res on yahoo. 3 months later and I am here in person for the FIFA World Cup U17, so a nice opportunity to update street names. That basically means hanging off the back of a motorbike, Garmin HCX in one hand Mobile in the other
screaming around town trying to take the best interpretation of street sign spellings, often only on shop windows and placards.

Updating this data means that I can take the Texas copyright / accreditation of some of the tags, also, some of the street names have been changed since that map was compiled ( usually to ex political leaders! ) . Anyway, might grab an hour now while it is sunny, kickoff at 4pm


Northern Nigeria

Posted by bri g on 28 September 2009 in English (English)

Heres the plan...

I Have a contract to go to Nigeria ( once again ) late October. Nigeria really needs mapping - even just the main highways.

Public transport is great and highly efficient. You literally go to the local 'motor park' and there will be a car going to the next main town or exactly where you want to go to. The car waits till it is full and then goes. If you are in a hurry you just pay fo the empty seats.

So far so good, So imagine if I distribute 5 GPS data loggers ( i personally have a Garmin HCX ) to a motor park early one morning and collect them the next day or so, hopefully I should get some good traces of major highways.

The trick will be explaining to the Motor Park supervisors what I am up to and a small fee might be needed

I will be working in 4 or 5 cities in the North so should get a decent opportunity to add some badly needed traces - anyone any suggections on kit GPS loggers - I will likely just sell the kit once it comes back on EBAY - buying 5 HCXs will be costly

All suggestions welcomed


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

Mapping of Kaduna Nigeria

Posted by bri g on 18 August 2009 in English (English)

Noticed last week that Kaduna, a town I used to visit frequently while I was a VSO 2003-5 is now in High Res imagery, one of the few Nigerian towns that is

So this last week at work has been rather quiet and guess what i have been doing?

Marking the roads up on Potlatch, then tidying up references and nodes on Josm
which works well for me. I have so say I have nearly reached my limits of endurance and hoping a couple of other Nigeria fans will step up to the mark and help me out. I can only remember one street name, maybe guess at a couple of others.

Location: Coronation Crescent, Unguwar Sarki, Kaduna North, Kaduna, 2234, Nigeria

Faro Portugal

Posted by bri g on 26 July 2009 in English (English)

Just been to Faro Portugal - my folks have a place there and I finally found 3 days to go - well my girlfriend went and demanded I come over pronto, but thats another story.

So what do I do - map it of course - loads to do down in the Algarve - did some unexpected off roading on dirt tracks in the rental car as I attempted to interpret the lousy tourist maps and find the country roads - with some small success.

Only got lost once or three times and drove on the wrong side of the road once
( day 1 ) oops!

'J' is very patient - she will need to be - there is still so much more of the world to map!

Added a bit to Tvededstrand ( Norway ) a couple of weeks ago and spent a few days working and walking Nyon ( Lake Geneva / Lake Leman )

take care - bri

Location: EM 527, Almancil, Loulé, Faro, Algarve, Portugal
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