The joy and sadness of open data

Posted by ChristianA on 10 November 2017 in English (English)

When I started out with OSM (around 2011) there were no satellite data I could use with OSM around where I live. If I wanted to map something it always meant going out in the field, and often estimating distances between things in order to get a fairly complete picture of, say, a residential area. I would add a mark in my GPS where a residential area started, and estimate how “deep” the gardens were, in order to be able to draw the residential area in JOSM.

As the years have gone by, OSM have become more popular, both in terms of mappers but also in number of end-users. At the same time there has been an ongoing trend to publish more geographical data as open data. So one day I found fairly decent satellite imagery in JOSM for my main mapping area. I was glad to see that my guesswork was, on average, not too bad.

Recently both the swedish road administration and the land survey has released vector data as CC0, making it possible to use import it into OSM. This in itself is a good thing. However, for me the mapping work has more and more become armchair mapping; drawing areas on top of satellite imagery or editing shapefiles to match OSM tags. Though I like to see the results after having uploaded a large edit, I must admit that it makes the mapping work a bit boring. It’s a bit more like administration, which I have always found a bit dull. Or like being stuck indoors a beatiful summer day…

So, my dear mapping friends, don’t forget to go outside and map the real world. Grab your GPS, put on your walking (or biking!) shoes and boldly go where someone probably has been before, and discover and map all that the world has to offer! The mapping adventure is just outside the door!

Location: Starrnäset, Krokek, Norrköping, Province Östergötland, Östergötland County, Region Götaland, 61830, Sweden

Comment from Robert Copithorne on 10 November 2017 at 18:49

Good to remember the basic concepts.

Comment from philippec on 10 November 2017 at 20:52

Some people make notes in the place they live in which they are capable to solve and do not solve them. That is how far we have come. Some people make notes in the dark in cities they never revisit.

And all that is accepted and seen as normal, at least not severely contested.

Comment from philippec on 11 November 2017 at 19:12

My fellow mappers, ask not what other mappers can do for you, ask what you can do for others.

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Comment from mindedie on 17 November 2017 at 12:36

Time and time some one write how armchair mapping is “bad” but “real” mapping is good. If not so called armchair mapping (don’t put bot or auto mapping here yet) what size and quality maps we have today? How much you can map on foot/bike and who can afford make “real” surveys? I am not. Ok, you survey you neighbourhood. Then what? Would be great if surveys was just “jump to you mapper boots and go”. Its take time and finances, it can be hazardous, you can’t go where you want and trace what you want. This armchair mapping “demonizing” sound so… elitist. I for boots on the ground mapping too, but it’s just i don’t know…. pipe dream? Its costly and limited. Fun? Yes, but i rather go for a walk and relax and went my head from real life crap. Surveys need effort otherwise its just random POIs and same roads mapped millions time previously.


Comment from ChristianA on 17 November 2017 at 21:01

I do not agree that I am demonizing armchair mapping. I agree however that armchair mapping is a large and important part of mapping the world for OSM. I also enjoy armchair mapping, when it is involves tracing from satellite data (and from older maps), but in not too large portions. What I like less is the work I described above; trying to merge vector data from different datasets with OSM.

For me the whole OSM thing has been about discovering the area where I live, or where I go on vacation and so on. And also about discovering things I can’t from other maps or sources. For me it is wenting my head from everyday crap as you call it.

Actually visiting a place almost always gives you more information than looking at it from a distance. Sure it takes more time, but for me it is worth it. However, calling on the ground mapping for a pipe dream and limited sounds a bit elitist to me.


Comment from Hendrikklaas on 18 November 2017 at 13:01

In my opinion is mapping still a survey as Christiana stated. Areal views are a use full item, but the world is outside. So, go out and notice items such as, steps, baskets, trees, containers or a bus stop. Look at the surfaces beneath your feet or eyes and the width of a cycleway are hard to see from a satellite image and tag tree’s separate instead of a row . It depends on the number of active mappers, many in Germany but only a view in Egypt. And remember that a day’s survey will contain a lot of info, it will take some time to ad it correctly. So, start collecting as much as you can get or remember and use all the available tools we have, GPS, memocorder and camera to record your survey.

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