OpenStreetMap

This is a random collection of thoughts from the last project of mapping a new area for emergency services.

  • In OSM there’s always a desire to work on areas with the largest audience, similar to commercial mapping companies’ ROI analysis. But that project shows that there is also a definite audience for fixing rural / lightly populated areas.
  • Even though the project boundary was defined by a ‘fire district’, the work in OSM was very traditional: just verify roads, add driveways, buildings and addresses to achieve the end result.
  • In 2017, we worked on neighboring Spartanburg county which has open data policies. We reviewed all roads and added buildings and addresses. Now that Amazon is creating all driveways, this effectively allows OSM routing to the doorway in that county also. Amazon is completing the “last mile mapping” for us there!
  • At some point, having a full set of driveways in the task area created a ‘hole’ in Amazon’s daily task list. This is a shot of one day’s driveway changesets in the area - nearly all from Amazon. The circled area is populated just as heavily as the area to the immediate right. Driveway mapping tasks not required in one area Did the Amazon delivery drivers notice a difference as the driveways and road network suddenly reflected reality?
  • A very typical experience when telling someone about OSM is that they will “Nominate” their own address and find that OSM lacks that address, road and/or neighborhood. I had a variation when one of the team looked up their address on Magic Earth: it found the location, but the house number was wrong. I tracked it back and the county’s source data was wrong so I could submit a bug report to the county GIS department.
  • OSM is often just a future concept: create enough data, and someone might find a use for it some day. And so we labor away like monks generating a jillion gigabytes of JSON. The FD project was unusual because someone had an immediate application for the data. Not only that, but now there’s immediate demand to expand the project - other FDs with similar geography would also benefit. If fact the FD noted in our meeting that they had just recently merged with the adjacent fire district to the north and were not familiar with the roads in that area so we have created a task manager task to expand their region of door to door routing.
  • This was my first experience comparing buildings over a time span: the Microsoft building set VS the current set 7 years later. I was surprised by the number of buildings that were no longer present in the later image.
  • In current imagery, I was surprised by the number of buildings now having solar panels VS 2012/2013.
  • Despite a number of MapRoulette TIGER challenges and comparison against state datasets, as well as randomly editing most of the county, I discovered this TIGER hairball which would have ruined navigation(“After” is the one with driveways) - the same area is shown below but the bottom one is on black background which is easier to see on some displays. Map comparison - traditional colors Map comparison - black background

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