The TIGER versus OpenStreetMap Battle Grid, improved!

Posted by mvexel on 7 November 2013 in English (English)

(This was originally posted on my blog. I want to start posting here more instead. This is a start.)

If you follow the blog at, you will have heard about the Battle Grid. It is a map that shows you where recent TIGER data is different from OpenStreetMap data. Because TIGER has improved a lot over the years, and has kept up reasonably well with new road construction, a big difference between TIGER and OSM tells us that OSM likely needs some love. Here is how the battle grid looked until today:

Cells with a lot of difference between TIGER and OSM are brighter, and as a simple way of prioritizing the cleanup and update work, I colored the cells that are within a Census CDP orange, and the rest green.

As of today the Battle Grid will look like this, instead:

The brightest cells are still the most different. What is new is a color spectrum ranging from green to red, indicating how many people drive in and through each cell. This is based on Telenav logs. Because lots of people use Telenav apps such as Scout every day, it should be a fair representation of interestingness.

Let me show you a few examples of bright Battle Grid cells to whet your appetites.

Here’s a bright red cell in Greenville, NC:

Look at this! Missing subdivisions, and poorly aligned streets. A mess!

If I weren’t writing this blog post I’d be fixing this…

The green cells are usually no less, ehm, interesting. Here’s one in Saint Louis, MO:

I guess someone had a plan for this area, and the someone with more money / power came along with a different plan, and nobody ever told Census:

What I generally find is that the bright cells on the fringes of urban areas are most gratifying. These usually represent either poorly aligned OSM data, unmapped new subdivisions, or a combo of both.

Speaking of fringes, I think Atlanta has a great visual Battle Grid story:

The city itself is well mapped with very few bright cells. (And whatever there was is mostly black, so people have already marked them as done.) The fringes still show a lot of, well, let’s call it mapping potential!

What are your favorite Battle Grid finds? Share them below!

Location: Terminal Drive - Pick up, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, UT 84116, United States of America

Comment from Chris Lawrence on 9 November 2013 at 19:44

In the St. Louis airport example you have, there were roads there in that neighborhood until about a decade ago, until the "white elephant" new runway was built displacing the community. So TIGER was accurate-ish a while ago but has been overtaken by events.

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Comment from FTA on 30 November 2013 at 17:30

Thanks for posting the Battle Grid...this is something I will have to check out more often. I edit in mostly rural places and am saddened that some of these places haven't even been touched since the original TIGER import. The typical TIGER import artifacts always seem to pop up (like the V shape right near a road intersection or many many nodes in one little area) in these places. I will start removing the tiger:reviewed=no tag whenever I line up ways now to help with these efforts of comparison.

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Comment from John Zastrow on 12 December 2013 at 13:31

How often is the Battle Grid refreshed? Or, is it alway checking OSM for edits? I'd like to see my progress (or lack thereof) reflected in the Grid.

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Comment from kc0nlh on 12 May 2014 at 01:15

very useful tool for finding work to do to make osm better.

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Comment from BrandyLehm on 20 September 2017 at 15:45

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