My reasons for mapping house numbers

Posted by EdLoach on 12 June 2013 in English (English)

I noticed on OSM talk this morning that the State of the Map US videos are available, so followed the link to bookmark for later. It turns out installing MS SQL Server is slow, so while doing that in the day job in another window I watched Richard's presentation "You Are Not The Crowd" and even noticed my username and name on a couple of slides.

The section about reasons made me wonder about some of my reasons for mapping things, and in particular house numbers as that was mentioned in the presentation.

My first bit of house number mapping was because it was being discussed on some OSM mailing list somewhere, and I had a new phone which ran OSMtracker. I used custom waypoints to record house numbers as the text and added them as nodes when I got home. Over time I developed other methods to get both sides of the street at the same time (e.g. a waypoint "12,17" meant the house on the left of the street was number 12, the one on the right 17, and ",21" meant 21 was on the right but no house was directly opposite), but I never really mapped very many house numbers. This was also before OS Opendata was available, so the numbers were just numbers on the map. (These have since been added to traced building outlines in all the places I can remember having done this).

Moving forward in time slightly, my teenage stepdaughters were often visiting their school friends after dark and phoning for lifts home from areas of the town I didn't know particularly well. I could find the road in OSM of course (as the area was road complete by this time), but had no idea where on the road the address they gave me was, so I was driving down the road in the dark trying to spot housenumbers. Fortunately the roads were quiet but this isn't really the safest of things to be doing. So I began arriving early when they asked for lifts in daylight and collecting the housenumbers for that street, and time permitting adjacent streets. I was able to trace houses from OS Opendata Streetview, and later in better resolution from Bing, and this looked better than the numbers alone which encouraged me to try and join the patches together, and also showed progress if I only traced the buildings as I added the housenumbers (I was rather against the idea of someone who suggested using image recognition and OS Opendata to get all the buildings added - this might have made the map look pretty, but in my opinion buildings with no other informational tags don't add anything, and obscure what still needs mapping in some ways). I also hoped to have mapped all the areas locally where the girls might have friends so that if they phoned for a lift from an address I'd not been taxi-driver for before I'd already know how to find it in the dark.

I'm trying to get the whole of the Tendring district address complete, fortunately not alone as percivjr has done much of the north and west of the district, and we continue to make progress as spare time allows, and we have had the occasional new mapper pop up and do their street in villages we've not yet got to ourselves, or web site developers wanting to put their clients on the map in places we've still to reach.

I've discussed what I'm doing with relatives and my inlaws wished that the whole area had been complete the year they offered to deliver electoral roll forms to a rural part of the district; most places only had housenames and road names and were difficult to find and if they had all been available on a map in advance it would have saved driving up and down the same lane numerous times, perhaps using more in fuel than they got paid for the deliveries.

Also, I hope, but don't know, that with suitably complete address data that I can at some point download a map for my Garmin which will allow navigation to an exact house. If this isn't possible now, then maybe at some future time as storage card capacities increase. But for it to be possible the data has to be there. If it is possible now I should read my Garmin manual...

I'll try and get to the other SotM-US videos as time permits, at the risk of making more of these long diary entries after watching them.

Location: New Hall Farm, Tendring, Essex, East of England, England, United Kingdom

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