The Main Roads department of Western Australian recently released quite a few datasets under the Creative Commons Attribution licence. We have explicit permission to use two of these in OSM: the Road Network (MRWA-514) and Road Hierarchy (MRWA-515).

I’m part of a local geogeeks group that meets fortnightly in Perth, and with the help of some people far more knowledgeable than me about spatial stuff I’ve been attempting to derive a comparison between the Main Roads data and what’s already in OSM. That’s a work in progress (eventually it’ll spit out an OSM file containing only correctly-attributed roads that are missing from OSM), but for the time being I’m going down a much more manual route:

1. Download shapefile from the site linked above

2. Use ogr2osm to convert it to OSM format:

python RoadNetworkMRWA_514/RoadNetworkMRWA_514_1.shp -o mrwa514.osm`

3. Create a JOSM style file that makes the names stand out:

way[cwy=Single] {
text: auto;
width: 3;
color: #c0c0c0;
text: "road_name";
text-position: line;
text-offset: 14;
font-size: 16;
font-color: lightyellow;

4. Mostly, road geometry is actually already in OSM, but the names and road types aren’t. To make it easier to find where to work, I apply filters in JOSM to hide everything apart from roads with no names. Then it’s just a matter of clicking a road, adding its info, and as soon as it’s got a name it disappears (thanks to the filter).

This is still pretty slow, but it’s safe. I’m sure there’s going to be lots of better ways to work with this, but at least some missing names (and geometries) are being fixed.

I’ll use source:name=Main Roads Western Australia to designate where the name has come from. The geometries I’m double-checking against Bing.

Location: Perth, City of Perth, Western Australia, 6000, Australia

Comment from maxerickson on 13 December 2016 at 02:38

With the OpenData plugin you can open shape files directly in JOSM:

(The result should be about the same, I’m thinking the installation process for the plugin is a lot easier than gdal)

Comment from Sam Wilson on 13 December 2016 at 02:42

@maxerickson: good point, but I found that JOSM couldn’t handle the large size of this Shapefile (~280 Mb). It doesn’t have a problem (at least on my computer) with a large .osm file though.

Comment from CloCkWeRX on 13 December 2016 at 05:32

Oh, otherone to look at: or strava heatmaps to find roads that are missing is useful

Comment from Sam Wilson on 13 December 2016 at 05:57

Thanks for the links, @CloCkWeRX, there’s some good stuff there. Now I have to investigate more about “Mapillary challenges” — is that some way of loading missing things into the Mapillary app for easier ground-truthing? :-)

Comment from woodpeck on 16 December 2016 at 00:06

@Sam Wilson, +1 to your considerate use of that external data source to improve OSM. It is a pleasure to see someone choosing the manual, careful path rather than just throwing together a half-baked script that tries to automatically import the lot and breaks half of the data while doing so.

Comment from Sam Wilson on 16 December 2016 at 00:25

Thanks @woodpeck! No fear, I wouldn’t trust myself to write a script to do this automatically. The closest I’m hoping to get is to write a script to prepare the data a bit more.

Although, in my spot checking around the state, it’s really looking like there’s not a huge amount to be done, which is pretty cool. :-)

Comment from TheSwavu on 16 December 2016 at 02:43

  • Great to see that the WA government has finally released something under a real open licence rather than the “public” licence that Landgate uses. The Landgate data has caused a number of problems with users downloading and then dumping various datasets into OSM. The last one has taken more than 4 months to clean up.
  • Shame we didn’t get permission to use the speed limit dataset. Speed limits seem to be popular with end users judging from the number of map notes created about them being missing.
  • Copying other maps is importing. Please read the guidelines.
  • Even if you can’t be bothered following any of the guidelines at least, please, drop an email on the Talk-au mail list to let others know what you are doing. Even if it’s just an announcement that you have obtained permission to use a dataset.

Comment from Sam Wilson on 16 December 2016 at 02:50

Do you mean the Legal Speed Zones (MRWA-519) data? I think they’d probably grant permission for that as well. I didn’t ask them for a blanket approval of all datasets because they seemed more inclined to approve specific usages, but you could give it a go. Some of the people at Main Roads are pretty supportive of people using the data, from what I can gather! :-)

And I’m not sure what you mean with your slightly snarky comments about importing. I do realise that using this data is importing, but I’m doing it very slowly and manually and commenting everywhere about what I’m doing. I have read the importing guidelines, and I think I’m following them. Could you be a bit more specific about how I’m not?

And I’ll send an email to the talk-au list, that’s a good idea. I figure more people probably read the diary feed though.

Comment from TheSwavu on 16 December 2016 at 03:18

We have had quite a lot of problems in the last couple of years with people starting their own private imports that have ended with differing levels of success. Which means that any time I see talk about copying in data you’ll find a reminder from me that there are guidelines. It was meant as a gentle reminder but if you want to get into the details step 2 is “Community Buy-in” and I don’t recall being asked…. That’s why I was suggesting that as a minimum an email to talk-au, we seem to have a pretty high acceptance of imports so I don’t think any one would object but at least others would know what was going on.

The talk-au mail list is the primary communication tool for the au community. Based on diary entries and comments there on I’d guess that less than 10 Australian users are actually reading the diary. As for the forum it’s pretty much tumble weeds and crickets.

Comment from Sam Wilson on 16 December 2016 at 04:19

Oh, yes, that all makes good sense. I’ve now re-joined the mailing list and shall try to stay on top of discussion there. :-)

And I think I was rather thinking that me writing this diary entry was sort of counting for “telling the community”, but you’re right I should’ve tried a bit harder. Really though, I’m just starting to investigate this stuff and have only done a couple of dozen road names so far.

Oh, and I was being a bit optimistic when I said that there didn’t seem to be too many missing road names!


I think I’m just going to go back to camera-and-GPS now though…

Comment from herriotto on 16 November 2017 at 23:17

This is Great. I’ve only recently gotten into the Australian effort for OSM, and in the Perth area noticed alot of residential roads with absent names. While its low impact, it seemed like a decent place to start and also get used to the tool. The site has good data for streetnames, and another handy way to highlight the segments without names is a Map Paint Style called ‘Streets Have No Name’. Give it a go! Thanks

Comment from aharvey on 23 March 2018 at 05:06

Shame we didn’t get permission to use the speed limit dataset

Based on the waiver we can use any CC BY 4.0 licensed dataset from

Login to leave a comment