Taking advantage of recent school closures

Posted by CjMalone on 21 March 2020 in English (English)

Here in the UK, and probably most of the world, schools are closing, which means parents and students are looking for contact information for the schools. If any of them look for that data through or downstream clients it is really useful to have that data up to date. So if anyone has a bit of time to kill, please help.

Robert Whittaker generates reports about schools, it’s a great tool to use. I don’t have time to do a proper write up, my work hasn’t closed, and is incredibly busy.

But vaguely,

  • Pick an area
  • Go to the table of schools matched by location
  • The first link is to edubase/Get Information About Schools.
  • Copy the contact details to OSM

It would be nice to also add the id as ref:edubase and the address, but I think the contact details should be prioritised at the moment. Other contact links like Facebook and Twitter would also be great but take longer to find as they aren’t part of Edubase.

I’ve done the PO and SO postcodes so far, I’ll be doing more as I can.

Comment from CjMalone on 21 March 2020 at 13:37

I also don’t copy websites links straight from Edubase, they are almost always the http, not https version and often go through redirects of old domains. I go to the site, then copy the link, the browser should go to https when available and follow the redirects.

Comment from Wynndale on 22 March 2020 at 14:00

That is what I routinely do when I add websites displayed on shops, I also try to find the page for the branch.

Comment from CjMalone on 23 March 2020 at 16:37

@Wynndale same, a precise page of website is better than a generic homepage, in the case of chain shops. I think there are bots that change http to https sometimes, but to doesn’t take much extra time to do it ourselves.

I have now done the bulk of the S postcode, this is quite boring, but hopefully it helps somebody.

Comment from alexkemp on 24 March 2020 at 14:29

@CjMalone: Thanks for this. I’m working my way through NG whilst in Covid-19 lockdown.

What is odd for me is that others do not routinely add contact details to PoI (or at least, not in the areas I’ve edited). A little bit of thought tells you that the main thing that visitors want from a map is links/telephone/etc..

Comment from CjMalone on 24 March 2020 at 14:45

@alexkemp You probably know more about this than me, but I expect there are several reasons for a lack of contact information in OSM. One of the main ones being that it isn’t rendered, and so it’s excessively hard to see the contact details on I believe if you could simply click or tap on POIs there would be more contact data in OSM.

Comment from alexkemp on 25 March 2020 at 01:23

Fernwood School

Of course, it can be rendered (as the link above) but, as you say, “it’s excessively hard to see the contact details on”. Your suggestion for a response to taps/clicks on PoI is perfectly obvious.

I think that the main reason for little contact info is that there is zero acknowledgement for entering it (only one node will be recognised, even if 200 bits of info are entered into that one node). It has taken me 4 days to enter 40 changesets - hours & hours of work and, apparently, sod all result. The other main reason, I believe, is many folks in OSM are unable to place themselves into other people’s shoes. I was taught during sales’ training to teach myself to think in terms of what that person will want.

There is little point in having a map if it cannot serve up basic information.

Comment from CjMalone on 25 March 2020 at 10:43

I’m not suggesting that the tags can’t be seen on, you and I both know that we can right click -> query, or click the weird question mark logo -> click. But someone new to OSM or just looking for details about a POI or a community doesn’t know that. It’s not intuitive, and so it is bad design. (I understand the technical reasons for it in the past)

When I said “it isn’t rendered” I was implying that because it isn’t part of the 2d image of a map, contributors don’t care about the data. You see evidence of this when people commit changes saying “Changed the icon of x” instead of “Changed x from a restaurant to fast food venue”. A lot of people contributing to OSM only care about that image of a map, the old school map, whereas we are talking about a digital map, intractable. Nobody uses a map to look up that in y the school is called x, now I’m going to get the phone number through a different service like 118 118 or the Yellow Pages. However that was a workflow for people in the past, that people actually did, but it makes no sense now.

You are right, a map HAS to be able to serve up that basic information in order to be useful, but obscuring like on currently does has the same effect of not having the data in the first place.

There are other reasons why this data is unprioritised, like why isn’t OSM indexed by search engines? Why aren’t OSM POIs in search engine results? You defiantly know more about limiting markets, target audience, and reach with your sales training than I do so I’m gonna stop typing. Sorry for the wall of text.

Comment from alexkemp on 25 March 2020 at 11:23

why isn’t OSM indexed by search engines? Why aren’t OSM POIs in search engine results?

Because the OSM map is deliberately de-listed due to concerns over server-load. There is a parable in the bible about hiding stuff, I believe…

The fact that the stuff that I add is not seen does diminish my enthusiasm. The evidence seems to be that others feel the same (lack of volume in daily mappers).

Comment from CjMalone on 25 March 2020 at 11:53

Because the OSM map is deliberately de-listed due to concerns over server-load.

If we abstract that to “OSM is limiting it’s self because of technical reasons”, we’ve just discussed that in terms of not being able to click on POIs.

Our opinions seems to line up perfectly, and it’s actually annoying me/upsetting me that OSM isn’t moving forward in this direction. Unless there is something actionable we can do, I’m going to stop talking about it for now. I’ve already ruined my mood and it’s still the morning.

Comment from GinaroZ on 25 March 2020 at 22:05

@CjMalone - OSM data is indexed by search engines, I’ve found osm objects appearing in google search result

@alexkemp You might want to fix the phone number value in - the (0) should not be used, see the wiki.

Comment from alexkemp on 26 March 2020 at 00:36

@GinaroZ: Worse than you think; every single number I’ve ever tagged is written like that. I’m tagging so that local national humans reading the Telephone number will be reminded to add a ‘0’ (zero) to the area-code if dialling by hand. Then the RFC says do NOT use spaces (use dashes), so it is worse than you think.

Sod it. Any decently written program should be able to parse my digits & dial it correctly, as can humans (no matter how doddery). Modems & MSDOS were able to parse it, so why not the supercomputers in our pockets?

Comment from alexkemp on 26 March 2020 at 10:21


You might want to fix the phone number value in - the (0) should not be used, see the wiki.

I tried on my mobile to dial the number in that url. “+44 (0) 1158 500 843” became “+4401158500843” and was not then dialled. Bummer. I tried again with “+441158500843” and it was dialled. Double bummer.

Searching for “(0)” and removing it is a trivial programming effort, but you cannot reason with some folks (I know, being a programmer myself). I will go through those last 50+ entries & remove the “(0)”s, but it is the several thousand other that I worry about.

Thanks for the notification.

Comment from GinaroZ on 26 March 2020 at 22:51

There’s about 368 objects with “(“ in their phone value in the UK:

I’ve seen some people correct phone number formats before, so it might be cleaned up eventually - I’ve edited some of the ones near me.

Comment from Christian Ledermann on 1 April 2020 at 11:50

Have a look at It is currently not working and I do not have the downtime to improve it, but it may be a starting point

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