mapping house numbers

Posted by Sanderd17 on 22 November 2010 in English (English)

Yesterday, I started mapping house numbers. Since the roads were pretty complete and almost all POIs I knew were OK, I had to find something else. I can't start drawing buildings since I don't have aerial material, so I began mapping house numbers.

Mapping house numbers is a quite huge job. When I do it, I try to map every house that stands separate. If houses stand close to each other for a longer row, I map about every 5th house and connect them with an addr:interpolation way.

I understand why there are so little house numbers in the database. It's quite a job, you can't do armchair mapping (no data available) and the result is only a few numbers on the map. You don't get to see the result that was intended: better search.

Are there any other mappers doing house numbers?


Location: Hertogensite, Leuven, Flemish Brabant, Flanders, 3000, Belgium

Comment from Tim Litwiller on 22 November 2010 at 21:45

Can you tell us your method? or the area so we can take a look.
I've worked on a rural area in central kansas.

Comment from Sanderd17 on 22 November 2010 at 21:59

Sorry, I forgot to put it in the post, it's in now.

yesterday, I worked on my home town:

and today in the city where I am during the midweek.

My method is to walk a street with my android in my hand, and stop at approx every 5th house (or every house if there's lot of space) and note the number with OSMtracker on a gpx track. Once home, the regular thing: downloading data with JOSM and editing the map with the gpx file.

Comment from asciiphil on 22 November 2010 at 23:58

I do house numbers as part of my process for mapping neighborhoods. My workflow is to make sure the roads are aligned to aerial imagery, possibly drawing houses, too, print the area via walking papers, and then visit and make notes about what's where. I usually just write down the first and last house number on each side of the street, but I try to make other notes if numbers are skipped.

Whether I map each individual address or just an interpolation way depends on how many addresses there are.

Comment from Unusual User Name on 23 November 2010 at 00:10

I've done a fair few street numbers, although I also had aerial imagery (nearmap) to trace houses from. I haven't done anything for the last two months or so.

I recorded every single street number, although typically every stand alone building only had one street number.

I was lucky to have mostly regular street numbers - 2,4,6,8,10, etc so I just had to remember the corner numbers and any breaks in the regular sequence.

I mostly did it riding past at a reasonable speed on my bike.

I was motivated to do it because there are no free address point databases in my state, but they are a fantastically useful dataset.

Comment from EdLoach on 23 November 2010 at 09:08

I've been slowly trying to do Clacton, but rather than aerial imagery use the OS Opendata as a background so I can draw buildings rather than nodes. The background only gives building outlines though, so knowing which houses are detached, semi-detached or part of a terrace requires a survey. Especially as some roads have numbers missing, or houses knocked down and replaced by a/b/c variants on the original number, etc.


Winnersh (where I go for training courses occasionally):

A mini-housing estate in a golf course (stay at hotel for conferences occasionally):

I tend to do them on foot, with walking paper type printouts where I can write a number, or circle more than one number for semi-detached/terrace, to indicate each building, then match them up when I get home.

I started by using nodes and interpolation ways (before the OS opendata was released) and later switched to a node for each house number (though didn't clearly note which shared the same building - I need to resurvey
at some point, for example).

But yes, being able to search for an address and it pinpointing the exact property does give me a sense that the effort is worthwhile (if only so I know where to collect my step-daughters from their friends' houses, which is why the coverage of Clacton started rather patchy and I've tried to fill in the gaps between).

Comment from alv on 23 November 2010 at 12:41

Especially when there's lots of stuff already drawn, I often don't do full mapping surveys (with a camera, hundreds of photos and days worth of editing), but I'd be reluctant to let the daily trips be a total waste of my time, mapping wise:

If you commute by car or on a bike, you can often choose a bit different route every day. Then you can usually survey one or two blocks / bits between two intersections just by memory; "on this section, there were roughly equally spaced houses, odd numbers only, 8 to 22". Repeat the next day. It is more foolproof if you try one side of the road only on any single trip.

If it's a long section or they're not roughly evenly spaced and you're on a bike or on foot, you can stop for few seconds in front of each one. Just limit your eagerness while doing that, so that you don't have hundreds of stops in the gpx, but already forgot which numbers they represent. If you use a bus daily, and the buses leave with a suitable interval, you can do such sections, too; step out at a random stop and walk to the next stop (or the one after that), again stopping in front of each house. Then you might as well have a bit of paper with you and write down the numbers in order. Extends the area covered for little extra time spent.

Comment from Schwedenhagen on 23 November 2010 at 20:14

I found it beneficial to use phonebooks to allocate housenumbers to position or buildings, because there are often different systems of numbering and irregularities in the locations of housenumbers. Me too used the waliking paper printouts during the mapping survey (in my town all houses are mapped).

Comment from Sanderd17 on 23 November 2010 at 20:19

hmmm, I don't know about the phone book. I think it's on the grey edge of copyright violation. I don't know who owns the rights to it.

As for walking papers, I've used it, but only for a shopping street. That way I could add more information than I can include in a gpx file. If I'm noting only numbers (maybe a L or R to indicate the side), I can just as good use gpx.

Comment from netman55 on 23 November 2010 at 21:07

I have started adding house numbers to my local area as like Sanderd17 there is not much else to map.
House numbering can be a major headache not only to us mappers but to end users like service engineers/delivery people, so house numbers can be really useful even if they only appear on street/road corners. I was a service engineer for a number of years quite some time back and I have seen some really weird illogical numbering in my time. However the biggest NIGHTMARE for me was HOUSE NAMES with no numbers!! It is rare to find maps with housenames shown so housename data is more valuable than housenumbers.

With house numbers here are some pointers that might catch you out which I have come across:
Its not uncommon for the number 13 to be dropped or substituted (eg 12a)
Numbers don't always run in sequence (missing or out of sequence)
Named terraces can have separate numbers or are included in the main road numbering scheme
Numbering can continue even if the road name changes!
Two roads of the same name quite a distance apart can belong to the same number sequence
Numbers can wrap around corners of T junctions for quite some way further than expected and down footpaths (New housing developments seem to love doing this)

So you can see that the safest way to map this is by foot!

Comment from Pan on 24 November 2010 at 06:20

Yes. I think it is very important to add the house numbers. Otherwise OSM will never be able to compete with the commercial maps for those looking for a precise building.

I added most of the house numbers of my village to OSM. Have a look here :

We should all try to upload the housenumbers whenever possible.

Comment from !i! on 24 November 2010 at 07:17

If you have buildings it's pretty cool to use and write it by hand.
But currently I personaly do it using video mapping

Comment from Sanderd17 on 24 November 2010 at 07:44

how do you work with video mapping? do you use a plugin for JOSM? or do you just look at the time of your video and the time of your gpx file?

Comment from marscot on 24 November 2010 at 17:56

I have done just under 500 house numbers now, getting there

Comment from Sanderd17 on 24 November 2010 at 17:59

That's a lot

Comment from alv on 24 November 2010 at 20:00

A week ago I was the last editor of 6300 objets containing house numbers just in my home town. The number I have entered is roughly the same, in this city. And we only have about half of all numbers yet. Add to that a few hundred on trips to other places. Point being: yes, it's a lot of work.

Comment from craigloftus on 25 November 2010 at 12:19

I'm doing a similar project in a suburb of Oxford, UK. For this I'm using detailed out of copyright OS maps which include building outlines, some house numbers and the garden outlines. I fill in gaps and confirm details with paper surveying.

Comment from Arlas on 9 December 2010 at 13:05

i'm doing house numbers too, but i have aerial imagery available. I use photos + writings to remember and then at home upload buildings/numbers. It's hard, but necessary ;) keep up the good work

Comment from Sanderd17 on 9 December 2010 at 13:26

well, I posted this just before the bing images. now I have aerial images too, and I'm drawing a lot of buildings in my area, so that I can use walking papers to note the housenumbers. This will be handier than gps.

Comment from Ronald on 10 December 2010 at 12:01

I'm also busy drawing buildings in the area using the Bing map. Currently I have done a lot of buildings on the west side of Izegem.
I just started somewhere in Belgium and this is where I take most of the time now.

Comment from Sanderd17 on 11 December 2010 at 10:20

Yes, I've seen you working. Izegem is not so far away from me.

Comment from Glenn Plas on 24 August 2011 at 09:48

Hi fellow Belgian,

I do housenumbers where I can. Which is not really that often. I'm using the nominatim imports quite heavily and I believe the bigger problem in Belgium is the missing postal codes from the resultsets.

I only dug into that gazetteer code as far as I had to to just patch my own postal code stuff on it -which is quite imperfect- With distance checking from reference points (which works when they are far away, but doesn't work when you have like 7 different zones in Antwerp of Brussels for example)

We have tons of issues having the french/dutch names for cities for example. I can't match 'Forest' easily, since that could mean 'Vorst' but also 'Vorst-Forest' but there is also a town called 'Forest' in the Walloon area. So it's ambiguous all the way.

I would rather see the postal codes fixed first.

Make SURE you get the buildings Plugin for JOSM as that will speed up your work drawing buildings in a factor 10. I've mapped about 4000 houses this week over here ;-)

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