About 6 weeks ago, I signed up to openstreetmap.org (OSM) to map my contact’s addresses and my public transport routes. My thinking was that adding these details will mean I will use OSM based apps everyday. When I add new contacts in the future, I will add their addresses to OSM too.
Of course, the first address I added was my home address and then the addresses on my street. I posted my initial impressions of OSM in my diary and people commented about my diary entry. I read their comments and their diary’s. I learnt from their diary’s that addresses can be automatically imported to OSM from government data sources as long as OSM have permission to use those data sources. I didn’t want to be doing work that could be automated, so I checked to see if my government offered open data that listed all the addresses in Australia. I learnt that such data existed and that another OSM mapper was requesting the appropriate government permissions to automatically import this data to OSM. I also learnt that with a powerful computer and AI software that buildings can be mapped too. I felt quite disillusioned and decided to take a break.
I came back with the idea of recording GPS traces of my public transport routes, but then I learnt that the GPS on my Nokia 6.2 has a known issue with accuracy.
Then I decided I would add nodes for local businesses, which is based on local knowledge and will not be automated for many years to come!! Initially, I thought I could map those businesses off the top of my head having passed them for years. As soon as I sat down at my PC to add those businesses I realised I couldn’t remember some businesses.
So, I went down the street, mentally recording the sequence of the businesses. I returned to type in the business names and their addresses. OSM made me really look at my surroundings and there were things I didn’t notice in my neighbourhood. That’s when I got hooked on adding more information about these businesses to OSM.
I noticed that certain business categories were really good at providing their contact details and their trading hours, while other businesses didn’t provide that information at all. Restaurants and Cafes don’t even provide their contact details on their menus!! I also noticed that most businesses have their trading hours on an open door which is easily missed, while a much better place is to have the trading hours on the shop front window near the door.
Then I started to revisit businesses when I decided to capture another piece of information. I also realised I was collecting so much information about a business I couldn’t keep it in my head anymore. So, I decided to take landscape photo’s of the businesses from across the street so that I would know the sequence of the businesses. When I started adding that information to OSM I realised I should instead take portrait photos of the businesses so that I capture the building levels of the business too. I noticed that businesses that print their trading hours on their shop windows comes up in the portrait photos, but those businesses that use “cardboard trading hours” are blurry in the photo. In future, I will zoom in taking a landscape photo of the business trading hours after the portrait photo of that business. Of course, those businesses that have their trading hours on their door will miss out!!
I was thinking of uploading the photos to Mapillary for armchair mappers but I decided not to with Mapillary’s takeover by Facebook. Besides the GPS coordinates on my photos are wrong anyway. My phone is under warranty and I do intend to return it, but I can’t be bothered with the hassle right now.
While I was mapping these businesses I came across indoor and 3D mapping instructions. When I further looked into indoor and 3D mapping I realised these mappings are still in development outside OSM. Personally, I would prefer that the indoor plan of a building fill the map when I click on an entrance of the building as that is a better reflection of reality. This method also means its easy to distinguish the businesses that are street facing from those businesses indoor. I won’t be adding the businesses of my local multi-level shopping mall until indoor mapping fully matures in OSM.
The 3D mapping looks impressive, but I don’t think it adds any more value than 2D maps.
One of the most frustrating aspects of mapping is finding the correct name for a feature. I spent ages trying to find street light which ended up being street lamp; electric pole was power pole; drinking fountain is an amenity called drinking water. I think a possible solution to this problem would be if the iD editor walkthrough used an area that was fully mapped and had more complex feature examples such as public transport and possible indoor mapping. Its the perfect place to find how to map a feature and practice.