OpenStreetMap

ebwolf has commented on the following diary entries

Post When Comment
Is the OpenStreetMap Rails App Appropriate for Other Data Sets? 10 months ago

Machine tags... At USGS, I started exploring machine tags as a way of managing importation metadata. For instance, tags in OSM are simple key=value pairs. When USGS data was imported into OSM, you'd see tags like (working from memory and it's been a while):

gnis_id=12345

These tags provided a relational link back to the feature in the Geographic Names Information Service database. But these tags provided no informational content to OSM editors and users and are frequently removed. I've also been told by some very active OSM contributors that the presence of these tags led them to believe that they shouldn't edit the feature and much of the data imported from GNIS has been untouched.

A machine tag would look a little different:

gnis:id=12345

The same feature may also have a tag like:

foursquare:id=48576

Which would essentially make OSM not just a data conflation environment but also an ersatz lookup table across spatial databases. The part before the ':' establishes the "schema" that the tag participates in along with the non-machine tags.

Unfortunately, the OSM platform is too "egalitarian". You can create machine tags like this without touching the platform but the key element that's missing. The OSM platform needs a permissions system to only show these tags to certain users. Or allow data to be displayed based on a filter on these tags.

One of the "hacks" I made in Potlatch2 and elsewhere was to hide some tags that the USGS used internally. You can see these tags in the planet file or if you look at the history. But you cannot change them in the OSM platform. These hidden tags were a key part of the back-end system using some Python, FME and ArcGIS that was used to manage the "process" of producing authoritative data from user contributions.

There are other platforms being developed. But I think OSM Railsport still has the richest, most mature feature set. One difficulty of using OSM is that it ties you to a community that can be challenging to work with.