alexkemp's Diary

Recent diary entries

SA School Mapping Started

Posted by alexkemp on 25 May 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 7 June 2020.
Carmarthenshire Ceredigion NPT
Find a Carmarthenshire School Find a Ceredigion School Find a Neath Port Talbot School
List of schools (PDF) List of schools (PDF) List of schools (PDF) )
Pembrokeshire Powys Swansea
Find a Pembrokeshire School Find a Powys School Find a Swansea School
List of schools (PDF) List of schools (PDF) List of Schools (PDF)


English :: Welsh Cribsheet
  • Carmarthenshire :: Sir Gaerfyrddin
  • Carmarthenshire County Council :: Cyngor Sir Gâr
  • Ceredigion :: Sir Ceredigion
  • Ceredigion County Council :: Cyngor Sir Ceredigion
  • Neath Port Talbot :: Castell-nedd Port Talbot
  • Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council :: Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Castell-nedd Port Talbot
  • Pembrokeshire :: Sir Benfro
  • Pembrokeshire County Council :: Cyngor Sir Penfro
  • Powys :: Powys
  • Powys County Council :: Cyngor Sir Powys
  • City and County of Swansea :: Dinas a Sir Abertawe
  • City and County of Swansea Council :: Cyngor Dinas a Sir Abertawe

I was impressed with the accuracy & fullness of detail in the English EduBase after doing ~1,000 schools. After only 3 entries my sentiments are at the opposite end of the bar where Welsh schools are concerned. That reached rock-bottom when the 3rd one (Ysgol Y Bedol, link above) turned out to be wrong in every respect - the site is being redeveloped for domestic housing (as best as I can tell) and a new building is built & functioning up the road at Twyn.

Type: Welsh establishment

Each school so far is marked as School type: Welsh establishment; I’ve searched & searched but cannot discover what on earth that is supposed to mean. My initial assumption is that it means bi-lingual (Welsh + English) (certainly how each website operates) and possibly has the local council as the operator. I would appreciate feedback from someone that knows, and also what mapping to use.

All of the 4 schools that I’ve updated so far are dual Welsh + English instruction. That does not get dealt with in the wiki dealing with schools, but here’s an example of the tags to deal with that:–

name=Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi
name:cy=Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi
name:en=Cardigan Secondary School

You will find a full list of language subtags at the subtag page;
English == ‘en’
Welsh == ‘cy’;

Information from the Horse’s Mouth

The Carmarthenshire Council Info-for-Parents PDF supplies all the info that is missing from EduBase, and then adds some.

Here is a précis of the language situation in Welsh schools (and just to say that it must be terrifying to have a behemoth like English breathing at their neck whilst trying to ensure that their native tongue survives):–

General Principles
Carmarthenshire believes in the educational value of being conversant in two languages and is strongly in favour of a bilingual policy in its primary schools. The long term aim of this bilingual policy is to teach children to be completely bilingual in the use of Welsh and English by the time they leave primary school, to enable them to become full members of the bilingual society of which they are a part.

Language categories applied to Primary Schools
WM: Welsh Medium:at least 70% of teaching through medium of Welsh
DS: Dual Stream:both languages side-by-side
TR: Transitional School:both languages used but with greater emphasis on Welsh
EW:mostly English
EM: English Medium School:Welsh taught as a second language

Finding the school Operator is as much a nightmare with Carmarthenshire schools as it is with English schools. The PDF talks in terms of “Admission Authorities”, and I suspect that that is as close as I am going to get. It’s a Minator’s labyrinth:

  • There is no automatic right to a place at a school
  • You must make an application to an admissions authority for your child to be admitted to a school
Admission Authorities
Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools:(name of Authority not mentioned; probably Carmarthenshire County Council)
Voluntary Aided Church Schools, Protestant:(name of Authority not mentioned; probably Church of Wales)
Voluntary Aided Church Schools, Catholic:(name of Authority not mentioned; must be Catholic Church)


Website gone awol

Website was the one EduBase weakness (sometimes missing, often wrong) but here it is completely absent. Even Google let me down but, thankfully, schoolswebdirectory came through and had each one so far.

27 May Update:
I found the website for full details on all Carmarthenshire schools, including their websites, via a Carmarthenshire Council Info-for-Parents PDF.

28 May Update:
Full details on all Pembrokeshire schools via a Pembrokeshire Council List-of-schools PDF & Ceredigion schools via the Council website (cannot find a PDF compilation).

29 May Update:
It has belatedly dawned on me that many of the schools that I’ve dealt with so far - and particularly the Welsh Medium schools - are predominantly Welsh-speaking. In that situation I should map them in Welsh & add the English version words as extras (rather than the other way round). I’ve been attempting to do that for each school. It does mean that my updates are terrifyingly slow, and I cannot guarantee to be doing it perfectly. But I’m doing the best I can.

30 May Update:
Swansea council added to the list at top. Unfortunately the webpage means clicking through 9 lists to find the single school that you want. Also found better replacements for logos + missing PDF compilations of schools (hint: “info for parents”).

1 June Update:
Powys council added to the list at top.

2 June Update:
NPT (Neath Port Talbot / West Glamorgan) council added to the list at top.

3 June Update on Diary Tables:
(this is info on editing these Diaries rather than about the Welsh Schools)…

HTML Tables were badly misused in the previous Millenia as layout devices, both because of the very poor CSS available + brain-dead decisions on the box-model chosen. There are, however, situations in which a Table is the precise layout required. In addition, in these Diaries the only way to get images to display side-by-side (horizontally) is to place them into a Table.

kramdown will accept Tables as both HTML (as “<table>”) or kramdown code (as Pipe chars “¦”) (the char shown there for a Pipe char is actually a broken vertical bar, since an actual pipe char will never show).

  • Tables as HTML: These will NOT display kramdown code as kramdown
  • Tables as kramdown: These will NOT display HTML code as html

7 June Update:
Welsh names added for NPT (Neath Port Talbot / West Glamorgan) + Swansea councils.

Ah well, I’ll keep buggering on, as Churchill always advised.

HU School Mapping Completed

Posted by alexkemp on 24 May 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 25 May 2020.

Phew. ~200 schools.

Hull was my birth-town and where I lived until ~30. I have now lived in Nottingham longer than I did in Hull.

It was fascinating to see the scale of change in the schools that I know. I do not think that a single school that I attended or knew remains in use, let alone is unchanged.

That’s Hull for you.

Now it is hello SA (Carmarthenshire / Sir Gaerfyrddin).

Tranby Croft, Hull Grammar School & Hull Collegiate School

Posted by alexkemp on 19 May 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 21 May 2020.

We are still in Covid-19 Lockdown, I’m still diligently mapping schools in the HU (Hull & East Riding of Yorkshire) Postcode, and I’ve reached an interesting school near Anlaby that incorporates my family’s Alma Mater of Hull Grammar School (I wondered where it had gone).

Tranby Croft

HE tags for Tranby Croft (these are specific for the UK):–

  • heritage:operator=Historic England
  • heritage=2
  • listed_status=Grade II
  • HE_ref=1103387

Hull Grammar School

My father, myself & my son all went to Hull Grammar Schools. Because of the vast churn in Hull, we all went to very different buildings (my grandson goes to a grammar school in Hertford, but if it had been in Hull then it would also have been at a different building to all the other three). Hull has zero respect for history; it used to have some medieval buildings, but they got torn down following WWII, even though they had zero war damage, presumably because they were too old.

Founded 1330

Hull Grammar School (for boys) is reckoned to have been founded in 1330. A house in the old-town Market Square was built for the school in 1486 (Blue Plaque) (picture below) and remained a school until 1878. It had two very famous old-boys in William Wilberforce & Andrew Marvell.

old Hull Grammar School

I had a table at the market held there each Saturday when a young man, and my back was to that wall. Sadly, no-one in Hull seems to have thought to map the buildings properly nor to photograph them for Mapillary. That’s a shame, so I’ve mapped it, at the least.

HE tags for the old Hull Grammar School (these are specific for the UK):–

  • heritage:operator=Historic England
  • heritage=2
  • listed_status=Grade II*
  • HE_ref=1197660
Transferred to Leicester Street 1892

grammar school Leicester Street

My father was at the school in the 1930/40s, and presumably that means at (what is now) Pearson Primary School on Leicester Street. There is zero info that I can find to confirm that, but the wiki information is that Hull Grammar moved into “a new and commodious building … on Leicester Street … officially opened by the Mayor of Hull on 27 January 1892 … built in the Collegiate Gothic style”. That matches Pearson perfectly, but there is nothing within the school website about it’s history. The school is round the corner from Mayfield Street where my father lived with his family.

My father had to pass the 11+ Examination in order to be accepted in to the school. I had the same-name exam to pass in 1961 at the end of my year at Hopewell Road Junior School. When my father heard this he passed on a piece of advice:–

One of the questions that I got at my 11+ was:–
    “Which is heavier: a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?”

Naturally I scoffed at that. That was a question from the Stone Age. What was the point in telling me that? (yes, it was one of the questions on my paper).

Transferred 20ᵗʰ Century to Bishop Alcock Road HU5 4RL

2012 Hull Grammar School

The place I attended in the 1960s was a nondescript post-war (1953) building that taught boys (only) from 11 up to 18 years. It has since been torn down, and now just a plain field on the edge of the city boundary remains. I doubt that anyone will miss it. I hated the place; it was soul-destroying.

One of my clearest moments with the school is a Stockholm Syndrome moment. It was 1969 & my last day attending; my future was to go to Newcastle-upon-Tyne University after the summer, and I was elated that my imprisonment was over. But then, as I stood on the steps of the school to go, I suffered pangs of regret that I was about to leave (and considerable confusion at my mixed feelings).

  • 1969: the school became a Comprehensive
  • 1974: Humberside County Council created nationally; all education transferred from local City Council to Humberside CC
  • 1988: re-organisation of Hull schools; the Grammar school is stripped of it’s Sixth Form (years 17, 18) & renamed; the 6th Form eventually became incorporated as Wyke Sixth Form College together with the boys & girls from the nearby Kelvin Hall comprehensive school
Renamed as William Gee School for Boys

This is the failed branch of the family. Amy Johnson School was an 11-16 years girls school at Ringrose Street, a few miles away (edubase=118110, the area has been redeveloped). It merged with William Gee in 2001, renaming the combined school as “Endeavour High School” (edubase=133422, Fountain Road, also redeveloped since then).

  • 2015: the school was put into special measures (not a good thing) and closed forever at the end of the school year.
Resurrected within Marist College

This is the more-intelligent branch of the family.

Marist college was a RC school for boys (edubase=129325) that got closed down as a part of the carpet-bombing that affected all Hull schools in 1988. It amalgamated with St Mary’s Grammar School (a RC school for girls on Anlaby Road) and successfully became St Mary’s College. Marist & St Mary’s were the only Catholic secondary schools within the whole of the East Riding, and thus had a large region to draw their intake from.

A group of folks got wind of the impending changes at the 1988 school reorganisation and decided to rescue both the name & ethos of the Grammar School. Thus in 1989 they created a new independent Hull Grammar School, a co-educational school for pupils up to the age of 18 years, using the former Marist College building as it’s base. This is the school that my son went to (he was born February 1973).

An interesting personal feature is that, following divorce, my son was living at his (maternal) grandparent’s house at Ventnor Street. And so, in an odd twist his situation was virtually identical to my father’s in the sense that the Grammar School was literally just around the corner from where he was living. That was the polar opposite to me, in that I lived next to the City boundary, and the Grammar School was 180° (and tens of miles) away at the other City Boundary.

My son went to university in 1991, but in that year the Grammar School hit severe economic difficulties and was acquired by Nord Anglia Education plc from the administrator.

  • 1989: new independent Hull Grammar School opens in former Marist College building
  • 1991: Nord Anglia acquire new school from the administrator for GDP £0.9m (keeps operating)
  • 2004: sold for GDP £4.18m by Nord Anglia to United Church Schools Trust (CoE + owner of Hull High School + Hull Preparatory School)
Transplanted within Tranby Croft as Hull Collegiate School

Tranby Croft

  • edubase=118126 (Hull Collegiate; Anlaby HU10 7EH; opened on July 2005)
  • edubase=135068 (Hull Preparatory; Anlaby HU10 7EH; closed on 10 Jan 2006)

United Learning (formerly United Church Schools Trust) is a Church of England-affiliated body that ran Hull High School — a co-ed 11-18 Independent School, with a girls-only senior school — since 1890 (EdBase states 1918). They bought Hull Grammar School in 2004, merged it with Hull High, and opened in July of the following year as Hull Collegiate School at the same site as Hull High, which is Tranby Croft.

United Learning also ran Hull Preparatory School — an independent Primary school for 2-10 year olds — at the same site between 31 Aug 2004 & 10 Jan 2006.

The only place that I have been able to find Grammar School in the new school is in their School badge:

Hull Collegiate badge

Fun facts:
The 3-crown flag (LHS of the Collegiate badge) is:

  1. The badge of Hull Grammar School since inception
  2. The Coat of Arms for Hull
  3. The Coat of Arms for King Arthur

I should not finish without mentioning that Tranby Croft is just outside the Hull city-boundary so, for the first time, the Grammar School has been transplanted outside of it’s home.

Location: Old Town, Hull, Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire and the Humber, England, HU1 1JE, United Kingdom

JOSM HowTo: map buildings

YT thumbnail

After the glorious success of mapping Schools with JOSM it was obvious to produce a series of shorts showing how-to-map elements of the schools, and let’s start with howto map school buildings.

Less than 8 minutes long, it does what it says on the can; it shows how to map a school building.

…and now a YouTube Video on Mapping Schools

Posted by alexkemp on 12 May 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 15 May 2020.

JOSM HowTo: map schools

YT thumbnail
(above: using roundabouts to align imagery offsets)

My very first video(s) uploaded to YouTube. The first is very long, very slow. Hopefully, an easy entry-ramp for those considering using JOSM to map for OSM. Otherwise, 35 minutes of boredom.

(later videos are much shorter)

Utilities that help whilst making YT desktop videos:

SimpleScreenRecorder (Wikipedia):–

Camera slate

Key Status Monitor:–

Utilities for Desktop presentation (14 May addition):

I made all my mistakes (probably not ALL!) in that first video. Certainly, the best way to learn is to do the work. Here are some useful lessons & utilities drawn mostly from the lessons of those mistakes:

Do NOT use RecordMyDesktop

I actually used SimpleScreenRecorder (links at top) for the first video, and it worked fine. However, most links that I saw on the inter-webs seemed to be for RecordMyDesktop.

The 1st video was general rather than specific, and a bit long, so I made a point with the next 3 to make them short & to the point. Unfortunately I used RecordMyDesktop (thinking that I had used it for the 1st video) and only afterwards discovered that it had made a complete abortion of rendering the desktop for each video — the only fix was to delete all three. I work under Devuan ascii; YMMV.

I have SimpleScreenRecorder set to record the desktop as a MP4 file (there are many other options). It does that on the fly, so the file is ready immediately the stop-record button is pressed. I’ve used it under high memory-load conditions without problems.

RecordMyDesktop renders the video only after recording is stopped, and takes some time to do it. Output is to an OGG file, with zero options. On playback the screen kept ‘tearing-up’ whenever the desktop image changed. I tried reducing the memory load, but nothing made any difference. As I had a working alternative I removed RecordMyDesktop from my system to stop me from making the same daft mistake again.

Use a Camera Slate (Clapboard / Clapperboard)

The link at top is for a 1-second YT video, which does what it states on the can; it gives a high-volume crack so that you can co-ordinate sound & vision.

This was missing for my first video, and you can tell.

With all my videos there are separate recordings for sound & vision. SimpleScreenRecorder is capable of recording sound and, indeed, I set it to do so, though there is virtually none to record. Voice is recorded on to my mobile from a bluetooth headset (nice & clear). The problem then is to sync the two.

The YT video (“clapperboard.mpeg”) is a direct copy of the classic way to synchronise the two tracks. The video track from SimpleScreenRecorder shows a single audio-spike at the point of the clapperboard crack, and the audio track from my headset shows the same (I make a point of staying silent whilst the video runs). It is then a simple method of lining the two spikes up to each other (I use Kdenlive and the two tracks are laid out on top of each other). Very simple, very elegant.

Use Key Status Monitor

This is a simple utility that provides a continuous read-out of all keys pressed. That is essential if making a demonstration of how-to use a keyboard-driven computer to do something. The viewer gets a direct readout of which of the 3 mouse buttons and/or which keyboard keys were pressed when you do something. So useful.

(Noticed this for the 1st time)

Ploughing through East Yorkshire schools, using a combo of & the government Schools Information Service to add full Address & Contact details to all HU schools, I’ve reached St George’s Primary School off Anlaby Road in Hull. Whilst checking that this was the correct school (very few EY schools — and how absolutely fantastic is it that the entire County has refused to accept the 1975 “Humberside” as their county & gone in their entirety back to “East Riding of Yorkshire”? yeah! — are properly mapped & registered, so it is necessary to check most carefully the correlation) I came across a photo showing on the front of the building that this was a “Board School”, and thus probably established in Victorian times (start_date=1881).

I spent a little time living not too far from this school and, after completing the main mapping, began to try to find when it was built. That brought me to the Hull Carnegie Heritage Centre, where I discovered that the road was started in the 1870s & the school was built in 1881 by the Newington School Board in the very classic Gothic style of that era. The page also states that it is “now a Grade II Listed building and one of Hull’s oldest surviving school buildings”. And here it is (list entry:1197690):–

St George's Primary School

Thus, the HE tags to use for the school (these are specific for the UK):–

  • heritage:operator=Historic England
  • heritage=2
  • listed_status=Grade II
  • HE_ref=1197690
Location: Avenues, Hull, Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire and the Humber, England, HU5 3EU, United Kingdom

OSM in Practical Use — By an Irish School

Posted by alexkemp on 8 May 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 10 May 2020.

Just to show how forward-reaching & intelligent the Irish are! You will find the OSM map in use at the extreme bottom of this Contact page for Hazelwood College, Newtownabbey, County Antrim:

It is a remarkably complicated set of <div>s which, at it’s heart, makes use of 4 x .png images to draw the map. It looks very professional (well done NI mappers!).

…and this map at the bottom of Hazelwood Primary School Contact page (just like buses, huh?):

**10 May update:
Having moved on to the HU (East Riding of Yorkshire) postcode, the 5th school I map shows an OSM map at the bottom of the page; hoorah!:

Location: Greencastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

5 or more occasions each day currently I go hunting through JOSM imagery looking for road roundabouts. I’m not completely mad; they are the best way (short of making GPS tracks whilst personally surveying) to correct the Imagery offsets for Bing & Esri satellite photos.

The above has happened so frequently lately during this Lockdown period (not being able to go out & survey) that I’ve become utterly obsessed with them, spending half the day, on one occasion, hunting out grass-filled roundabouts to map.

I’m currently mapping schools in Northern Ireland, and the Irish have just a bare fraction of the number & variety of road roundabouts that we English have. However, what I have observed them to have is large road-enclosed circles within their fields. Don’t believe me? Well, I’ve observed more than one. Here is the latest, which I mapped (due south of Downpatrick):

What on earth is that about?

Location: Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland, BT30 6EU, United Kingdom

St Edmund’s College, Hertfordshire

Posted by alexkemp on 5 May 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 12 May 2020.

I’m astonished at the quality of Herts. schools and, so far, all in close proximity to Ware.

St Edmund’s College

This is a 400 acre site for a co-educational, Catholic college originally established in 1568. It was founded on that date in Douai, France, as a seminary to train priests and (later) also a Catholic school for boys. It transferred to the current site in England in 1793 to escape the depredations of the French Revolution. Girls from the adjacent Poles Convent were first admitted into the Sixth Form in 1975, and the College became fully co-educational in 1986.

St Edmund’s uses the founding date to claim their school as “the oldest Catholic School in England”.

I’m hoping to be able to construct a relation of all the site features, as with Haileybury and Imperial Service College, and have left a message on their answerphone. I’ll bring this little missive up to date if they respond.

Ermine Street

I seem to keep mentioning in these diaries schools that are close to Ermine Street.

Ermine Street runs next to this College (on the East flank). Heath Mount School (see also 21 April) is close to Ermine Street because it is close to Ware (the A10 essentially follows the route of Ermine Street near Ware, whilst Haileybury and Imperial Service College (see also 24 April) virtually has Ermine brushing it’s Western flank as it runs almost due North-South past Hertford Heath.

Ermine Street is an astonishing path. I was aware of it as a young man because I often would travel from my home town of Hull to Lincoln & back, and the main part of that road was the A15/Ermine Street, running straight as an arrow due North-South except for a kink at RAF Scampton.

Whenever you come across the name ‘Street’, then you may be looking at a Roman road; that is certainly true for Ermine Street. It was built to allow speedy travel between London & York, and went via Lincoln. All three, of course, became important centres for Catholic worship.

Interesting Factoid on the Lincolnshire Ermine Street

A great many RAF airfields are built alongside Roman Roads; for the Lincolnshire section of Ermine Street north of the town that is RAF Scampton1. It suffered continual bombardment from German planes during WWII, and that was because it was so easy for them to accurately navigate to the site. It went like this:–

  1. Fly west from Europe across the German North Sea
  2. If north of the Humber then turn left when reaching the coast of England, else turn right, until you reach the mouth of the Humber
  3. Fly due west along the Humber until reaching the kink at Hull, when turn due south
  4. Follow the line of Ermine Street until it kinks to the left
  5. Drop all your bombs on the airfield on the other side of the road


  1. For the southern section immediately below Lincoln, it is:

    … and that’s only got us down to Grantham!

    As a bonus extra, I spent a few hours with some friends one night at their cafe somewhere near RAF Waddington in the late 1970s (or early 1980s, I forget which). They said that the cafe was built directly on Ermine Street. As I was getting ready to set off back to Hull a line of geese flew overhead, directly following the line of the Road. It seems that not just the Luftwaffe use Ermine Street for navigation! 

Location: Standon, East Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, East of England, England, United Kingdom

Mapping Schools Preset: the ‘Operator Field’

Posted by alexkemp on 4 May 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 5 May 2020.

This is now the 5th month since I began mapping schools as something useful to do during this wretched Covid-19 Lockdown period. 1,000s of schools updated with both Address & Contacts tags, and still I’m having problems with the Operator tag (the second item in the Preset).

Shortly after starting the mapping I got (rightly) slapped around the face by someone butt-hurt because I had wrongly mapped a school Operator that he had previously mapped, but he could not tell me the correct operator for that school anymore than I could tell it. Clearly, I should have left it blank rather than guessing. I thought in my innocence that, after some more experience, I would learn to know where to find the school operator. That hasn’t really happened. Hence this Diary entry.

These are the types of schools that I’ve currently come across (below), plus my best estimate of the operator to use. Do not hesitate to pitch in if you believe me to be wrong or know the operator:–

  1. Academy converter
    (possibly with an Academy sponsor)
    If an Academy sponsor then operator='Academy sponsor'
    else operator=''
  2. Academy special converter
    (possibly with a trust)
    If a trust then operator='trust'
    else operator=''
  3. Academy sponsor led
    (should be an Academy sponsor)
    If an Academy sponsor then operator='Academy sponsor'
    else operator=''
  4. Community School
    Use operator='name-of-Local-authority'
  5. Community School
    (with a Federation)
    Use operator='Federation'
  6. Community special school
    Use operator=''
  7. Foundation school
    (possibly with a trust)
    If a trust then operator='trust'
    else operator=''
  8. Further education
    Use operator='name-of-Local-authority'
  9. Pupil referral unit
    Use operator='name-of-Local-authority'
  10. Voluntary aided school
    Use operator=''
  11. Voluntary controlled school
    (possibly with a Federation)
    If a Federation then operator='Federation'
    else operator=''

In all the schools that I’ve mapped, using the UK Government schools service site, I’ve come across just one school that contained an “Operator” field. Not helpful!

I maintain each day an ODS (LibreOffice) Spreadsheet of Covid-19 infections for Nottingham (my home town) as reported by ONS (Office of National Statistics) via a BBC webpage.

BBC Confirmed cases

That page currently (08:45 29 April 2020) reports the same number for Nottingham (488 confirmed cases, from a population of 331,069 people) as it did the previous day (28 April), with a report date of 27 April. So, I went hunting for the source & found it on a site:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK (Open Government Licence v3.0)

…and lo! That page is using leaflet + OSM data (good attribution) to display the data.

The site currently displays “Last updated 28 Apr 2020, 7:14pm” and, sure enough, the data still shows ‘488’ for Nottingham, which means that there were zero new cases yesterday. In fact, there were ‘488’ cases Covid-19 infections confirmed for Nottingham on 25 April, no cases reported at all on 26 April, and then (again) ‘488’ cases Covid-19 infections confirmed for Nottingham on 27 April. Cases that are reported on one day are actually for the previous day.

If you download the CSV file of latest cases & speadsheet it you will find just 103 extra cases in England (most of them in Yorkshire+Humber), meaning 0 (zero) extra cases in most of England, including in Herts (which is where my grandkids live). The numbers in that file for Nottingham are slightly different to those reported by the BBC (not much different). I’d also got the actual dates off by one. So, I decided to shift to the site for the stats that I would take.

I cannot find any means to upload one of the graphs from the site so, instead (and for what it is worth) here is yesterday’s Nottingham Covid-19 stats graph (top) + Hertfordshire + all English Region stats (bottom) (low res because my screen is pants); the latter is particularly important because, for the first time, all parts of England have registered a day with zero % growth in Covid_19 infections:

nottm covid19 stats covid19 hertfordshire stats english region covid19 stats

Location: Lace Market, St Ann's, Nottingham, East Midlands, England, NG1 1PR, United Kingdom

Haileybury and Imperial Service College, Hertfordshire

Posted by alexkemp on 24 April 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 28 April 2020.

My last Diary was a HowTo on using JOSM to create a Relation to map Heath Mount School. Heath Mount was founded in 1796 & occupies 40 acres of the Woodhall Estate close to Ware in Hertfordshire. Now, just to show that some people & places may be created more equal than others, here is the Haileybury and Imperial Service College, which is also close to Ware & occupies 500 acres. This one has been a little bit more of a challenge to map.

drone footage

Haileybury College (OSM map)
Haileybury College (OSM relation - 130 members)

The bulk of the mapping is complete for this College (85 different items so far) but lots of buildings still to follow.

First a quick bio, then mapping highlights:

The East India College (named after the East India Company, which had the obligation to maintain it) had existed on the site since 1806 but closed in 1858 following an Act of Parliament. By 1862 a Haileybury College became an independent public school on the same site, and has continued ever since, now for boys & girls.

The School cadastre already existed when I began the Relation, as did most of the buildings & many of the ground features. A number of the buildings were named, but not all. The website has an overview of the campus but the buildings are not named on that page.

I phoned the school up & spoke to a lady who sent me a PDF that named most (not all) of the buildings. Hooray! If I point out that it has 13 dormitory Houses on site, each ‘House’ of which often comprises multiple buildings, you may begin perhaps to get some measure of the scale of this place.

  1. The Relation was created with the Cadastre selected & set to outer within the Member list.
  2. All tags were moved from the Cadastre to the Relation
    (no tags at all were left on the Cadastre in this situation)
  3. I used the campus PDF as my tick-list to map all school buildings
  4. After completing all mapping for an individual group of buildings each was added to the Relation
  5. Most buildings are set as inner within the Relation Member
    (every Member is inside the Cadastre, which itself is set as outer; another Member that is mapped inside another Member would require setting as outer; JOSM performs integrity checking on uplift & suggests a sensible fix on this one, so uplift often & fix all errors)
  6. I’ve tried to give a sensible naming scheme + ordered the Members accordingly

Some Help Wanted, if you Can

I’m in the middle of the final batch of building entry, which is the magnificent Dining Hall/Quad/Chapel/Terrace collection shown in the picture at top of this Diary. There are many school Houses, Academic places & school sections located within this complex & I’m struggling with how to map it, and could do with some advice.

I had to redo the Dining area to get the holes mapped (a Multipolygon - the classic OSM method to map a building with internal quads open to the sky, in which the exterior wall is tagged ‘outer’ & internal quads are tagged ‘inner’). That was relatively easy, since the Catering section & the 1932 Dining Hall designed by Sir Herbert Baker do not interfere with the Multipolygon at this moment. However, other sections are within the walls & (although I tried) I failed at mapping them as building sections.

The obvious method (I think) is to map them using the Site relation and map them as a set of rooms. My main concern is that I may switch the entire site collection from it’s current Multipolygon to Site (although I suspect that that may prove to have show-stoppers of it’s own), and do not want to introduce future show-stoppers at this stage.

I’ve had a quick try with indoor=room for the Common Room & Sixth Form Centre. Both show with the Relation, of course, but neither shows on the map by itself, which suggests that indoor tagging has very low priority.

(An example of a Multipolygon relation showstopper is that it can contain only ways; It cannot contain complex Multipolygons (buildings with holes) nor lines (each thows errors); it is also not supposed to contain nodes, although the enforcement is lax on that).

25 April Update:
I’ve completed & uploaded some significant surgery on the Quad building (start_date=1809). Fortunately I was able to complete it without having to first delete the original mapping (a close call in this situation). I think that the root cause is that recent Imagery such as Esri is:–

  1. Shot such a long way off 180° overhead (unlike Bing)
  2. Tile offsets vary wildly across short distances.

Although Bing is old that did not matter in this situation for this building, so I used that to map it.

The indoor=room mapping is not rendered on the standard OSM map nor in JOSM, and that is unfortunate as I need the names to display. For the Memorial Quad + Quad I used building:part=quad and the name does render in JOSM, but not yet in OSM (it may just be too early) (update: no, it just does not render). Regardless, whilst building:part is accurate for the Quads it would not be accurate for the various rooms. It looks like I may have to just live with their absence from general visibility unless someone has a brainwave.

26 April Update:
More building surgery, this time on the Terrace. Various abutments are now in place and it is correctly connected with the rest of the building. Once again, I was able to retain the original mapping.

The part marked as ‘Terrace’ is actually outside the building & faces across the Arboretum & field. That part is tagged building:part=terrace. The College is currently 105 members (including the Terrace) & still going.

There is a Portico facing the Quad (right-hand side of the picture above) and, after aligning the Terrace so that it fitted (and then fitting it) together correctly with the rest of the other 3 sides of the Quad I realised with some surprise that much of the Portico was missing. Well, not now. The Chapel now correctly fits on top of that Portico (it was actually too big before).

What I would love to do after Lockdown is over is to be able to visit & photograph the various buildings for Mapillary. This looks like a wonderful site for that.

Location: Bride's Farm, Hertford Heath, Little Amwell, East Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, East of England, England, SG13 7PY, United Kingdom

Was it only yesterday that I finished NG school updates, then started working through schools within SG postcodes? For some reason I hit a couple of complex multi-site schools straight away, each of which gave mighty problems. The most recent was the fabulous Heath Mount School (incongruously the relation looks like a fish swimming to the left). My grandkids were due to attend that school until parental divorce intervened.

I find that documenting stuff helps to cement the lessons learnt, as well as giving me something to refer to if I forget, and hopefully will help other novices as well. So, here are some small techniques to use with JOSM to help get the job done, drawn from very recent experience.

School Layout: Look for an Architect PDF

Heath Mount School:

Heath Mount School

The latest school (link above) had an interactive map. I was in ecstasy! Most schools do not bother to mention the layout of their sites, let alone name the buildings, and not a single one of the thousand schools that I’ve mapped this last month had a website that bothered to include a map. Until this one. Quiver!

If building work has been carried out, then refer to the local council. They always publish documents that include a building layout. If all else fails then find the name of the architect involved & search their site.

Place all School Tags Upon the Cadastre

(see the previous Diary for more on this)

Almost all items within the interactive map had already been placed into OSM, but the tagging was minimal. Many were missing from Bing imagery, but present within Esri. No Cadastre was within OSM yet, but essentially the interactive map gave boundaries to the Cadastre and allowed me to establish it. A Relation was used to group all school facilities together.

This was the process:-

  1. Draw (if missing) & name all buildings
  2. Draw all areas & name them
  3. Create a Relation (name=Heath Mount School) with the main building as “outer” role
  4. Transfer all non-building tags from the building to the Relation
    (in this case all relation Members have the same address, so address/contacts are added only to the Relation)
  5. Add the other 6 Members to the Relation

These are the Relation Members:

  1. Heath Mount Lower School Year 3&4 (building)
  2. Heath Mount Nursery & Pre-Prep (building)
  3. Heath Mount Performing Arts Centre (building)
  4. Heath Mount Prep School Year 5-8 (building: listed_status=Grade I)
  5. Heath Mount Sports Grounds (a closed way: landuse=recreation_ground)
  6. Heath Mount Sports Hall (building)
  7. Heath Mount Stumble Trip Woods (a closed way: natural=wood)

Everything looked hunky-dory until I hit the Upload button. It produced both Errors & Warnings (always fix errors and try to fix warnings). Here are a series of both to avoid, and how to do so:

Do Not Add a Complex Multi-Polygon Building to a Relation

This was mentioned in the previous Diary..

A Multi-Polygon Building is a building with holes in the middle. As long as the building does not have holes it can be added to a Relation, else not (hint: a Cadastre around any building can be added).

Do Not Merge Two Adjacent Areas if Both are Within a Relation

The Sports Ground is adjacent to Stumble Trip Woods. Or at least, it was merged along a common line in the middle, but that gave a warning message which took hours to resolve:

Mixed type duplicated nodes

If you examine the (non-) join between these two areas at ultra-resolution, you will discover a distinct separation between them. Here is how to do that:

• Click on one of the nodes
• Press ‘3’ (zoom to selection)
• Press ‘+’ repeatedly until at max zoom

To see the point:

• Press with Middle-mouse-button on bottom line
• Press the Ctrl button to retain dialog on screen

The bottom edge is actually 2 x merged-areas (Woodhall Park + Heath Mount Sports Grounds). There is zero problem because only the Sports Grounds are in a Relation. However, the top edge is Stumble Trip Woods, and it is within the same relation. Hence the gap, which negates the warning.

To travel to a member of a Relation:

• Click the Edit button within the Relation window (Alt + Shift + R)
• Right-click on the Relation member
• Choose “Zoom to”
• Click Cancel
(the Member is now selected within the window)

The above also works with Warning & Error messages.

Set Buildings Inside an Area as ‘inner’

The Lower School Year, Nursery & Pre-Prep and Performing Arts Centre are all inner Members. That is because they sit within the Sports Grounds and gave an error when I set them as outer:

Role verification problem - Role for ‘‎Heath Mount Lower School Year 3&4‎ (8 nodes)’ should be ‘inner’ (1)

Do not Allow Same-Type Areas to Cross

This warning pre-dated my actions. I had copied Stumble Trip Woods around part of the existing natural=wood area. Unfortunately a small triangle of that wood crossed a square of wood to the north and that threw up a warning. A tiny rearrangement fixed the warning.

Phew. Hopefully that helps.

Results so far & Intelligence Gathered on School Updates

Posted by alexkemp on 13 April 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 23 April 2020.

March 24: School Work starts
April 2: School Work update

Across the last 23 days of this Covid-19 Lockdown I’ve made 526 changesets, almost all updating schools & colleges in the NG UK-postcode area. I’ve been working my way down the website page for NG from top to bottom, and am about ⅔ of the way down. The last entries added were 11 campuses for Nottingham College. This diary entry is an attempt to synthesise the intelligence gathered so far.

The definitive list of schools, etc is maintained by the UK government & published at School Information Service. Each school is given a unique URN. The OSM reference to relate to this is ref:edubase=URN-Number.

Where you see the word “School” below it also refers inter-changeably to “Colleges” or “Universities”.

1. Use a Roundabout to Align the Imagery

We have a number of different imagery available to use, but all of them both need to be aligned to the ground truth & every time the map location is changed each may need to be re-aligned. The simplest & best way that I have found to do this is to zoom in on a mini-roundabout, and to align the Offset to that roundabout.

The overview is like this:
Satellite view & GPS coordinates need to be aligned to each other based on a vast array of factors: eg angle of view, ground height above sea-level, GPS coordinate system, etc.. It is made more difficult because individual tiles may come from a large range of dates and/or satellites. It would also be wonderful if all of that had been pre-processed between the native image & production of tile-to-view, but we are beggars & not the paymasters & are lucky to have any imagery to use at all. Fortunately, we Brits are obsessed with roundabouts and there is always one close to where we are mapping. Further, OS street-mapping from the government has been imported for all Britain.

Here is the process step-by-step:-

  1. Select on the screen something already mapped at the place that you are about to map
  2. Make sure that Continuous download (Alt+Shift+F1) is switched OFF
  3. Press the ‘-‘ key & examine the local roads until you find a mini-roundabout
  4. Zoom in until it is central & very close in the screen
  5. Switch Continuous download ON
  6. If badly offset, right-click on the active Imagery Layer & choose Offset|New offset
    (Use Tab key to switch the Dialogues panel ON if OFF)
  7. Centre the mini-roundabout within the road network on screen
  8. Press Okay when satisfied
    (give it a name if you wish)
  9. Press the ‘3’ key
    (you will be back at the place to map)

2. OSM expects a School/College/University to be a closed Way

This is placed on the perimeter of the school Cadastre (the land-parcel that defines the school); it is a series of linked nodes. School buildings, roads, paths, playgrounds, fields, parking, etc. can then be defined within the Cadastre.

3. Multi-site Schools should be placed within a MultiPolygon Relation

Each Campus should have it’s own closed Way just like a single-site school as above; it helps a lot to give unique name=campus-name for each Cadastre. Then each campus should be added to a multi-polygon relation.

The obvious type of Relation would seem to be type=site, but even that wiki page says to use Multipolygon for schools.

How-To-Map Instructions are in the earlier Diary entry.

Simple buildings can be placed into a Multipolygon, but complex buildings with holes cannot. This is because a simple building is just a specialised closed-Way, but a complex building is another Multipolygon and they are explicitly forbidden. It is best to just use a school Cadastre as Members.

Try not to use Relations as members within the MultiPolygon, I have found some schools where a Cadastre has been defined using a relation composed of pre-existing lengths of other ways. That is a legal way of defining a Cadastre, but is a bummer if the school is multi-campus. Little Geo-software is likely to be able to handle multi-depth Relations, anymore than most humans can.

4. The Amenity goes on the Cadastre or the Relation

For simple schools with a single-site, the amenity=school/college/university is placed on the Cadastre, as are Address, Contact & ref:edubase.

For multi-campus schools, Address & Contact are normally placed on the Cadastre, but everything else goes into the relation Tags.

5. The page for NG will be unusable until it updates

I’ve been spending my time converting many Relations to closed Ways, and some closed Ways to Areas-within-Relations, so many of the links will be inoperative until the page updates.

Well, at least I’m using my time usefully.

19 April: Postscript

Now complete after 26 days at 582 schools updated in the NG Postcode area, with possibly an additional 200 or 300 (up to 900 total) updates on previously-updated schools/colleges. Those extra updates were due to having learnt more about the whole process and that, of course, is what the above is about, to try to cement that learning within myself & pass it on to others.

NG is at better than 96% coverage. I’m now going to tackle the SG postcode (my grandchildren live in Ware), which is only 50% covered.

Thoughts on the whole process:
• There was just one NG-postcode school that was using a web-address for their website (I did not even know that ‘school’ was a TLD!)
• I cannot tell you the number of school websites that I had to hunt through their sitemap to find the Contacts page-link
• The number of websites that forgot to add their School name to the Contact Address
• There were school websites that showed only a blank page — and nothing else — if JavaScript was switched OFF. Then the websites whose menus were inoperative without JavaScript ON. Those with JavaScript-obscured email addresses so effective that Chromium could not interpret it. Hey! Schools! The 1990s has called: it wants it’s JavaScript back.

EduBase Thoughts

I’ve been attacked (yet again, but more on that in a future Diary entry) for my reliance on the UK Government site that makes use of EduBase stats.

In brief, and largely as educated guesses, the site draws from a govt-supplied set of stats on UK Schools and makes the raw info available, searchable & cross-referenced. It is damn useful.

Like all such compilations it is subject to data-entry error, and it has been forceably pointed out to me (quite rightly) that the stats need cross-checking. The art of teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs comes to mind (I’ve been dealing with databases since the 1980s). Nevertheless the site does sometimes give pause for thought when the postal county address for Long Eaton is given for different schools variably as Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire (I’m told that it is Derbyshire). In the end, find the Contacts page for the school & get that info from there.

As far as licensing (a hot OSM issue) each page includes:

All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated

OGL v3.0 generally is fine whilst the Wiki says “Datasets should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis”. I’ve not personally seen anything yet that gives me pause (ianal).

School Operator

This one is problematic in the best of circumstances.

EduBase does not have an Operator field, whereas the JOSM School preset does (there is sometimes information within an EduBase Proprietor field). If the school has an Academy / Trust field then that is likely the Operator. If not an Independent school, then the Local authority field is a likely one. One way is to check the website or email addresses. As a recent example, I’m dealing with the following:

You will notice that both the website & email addresses are “”, which is a sure sign that this school is operated by the local County Council (Hertfordshire).

Finally, we meet the Independent / VA (“Voluntary Aided”) sector of UK schools. Good luck with those! Hopefully there will be information within the website but it is not (as I understand it) a statutory requirement.

Leave Operator blank if unsure.

Onwards & upwards.

Update on my School Work

Posted by alexkemp on 2 April 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 11 April 2020.

March 24: School Work starts

As best as I can tell I’ve only worked my way through 69 schools. It seems far more. There are more than 223 changesets made by myself under this banner, and I was trying to do one changeset for each school or set-of-schools in the same immediate area. I think that what has happened is that the number of schools listed on the section of the page that I’ve worked on have shrunk as I have mapped them.

I began using to update all school info within OSM in the NG (Nottinghamshire) postcode on March 24. You can see all postcode links at

The site was promoted by a diary post by CjMalone. It gathers info from the site on current schools and cross-references those against UK schools mapped within OSM. Each top-level postcode gets it’s own page, and within that page the site lists (in order):-

  1. Schools apparently not mapped in OSM
  2. Schools in OSM not matched against the official list
  3. Schools matched in OSM by location but not edubase ID
  4. Schools matched in OSM by edubase ID

School Cadastre

In the last 9 days I’ve worked my way through all the first 3 sets of schools in the lists above. I’ve entered missing Cadastre (the perimeter of the school land parcel), and fixed them where they were wrong.

I also tried but failed to find the govt opensource download for those cadastre. Finally, Christian Ledermann mailed me with the link to his github for his App that contains those Cadastre. Unfortunately his site is broken (logging into OSM gives a Status 500 error back from his site), but it originally did work and put all necessary info on the OSM way. Bugger! Just when I needed it, it is not working.

I do not have the time to fix his site. I will finish the NG schools manually & continue to bodge my way with the cadastre. It’s a bummer, because his product was excellent. Build instructions are here. My main caveat with some school results from his product is that the Cadastre is contained within a Relation, type=multipolygon, when the Cadastre seems to be a simple, single area. That is unnecessarily complex, unless the school exists within multiple sites, but is probably the end result of a complex algorithm (I’m nit-picking).

All Schools now have websites

There seem to be many missing and some bad website links in the edubase site. A useful site is, in which the first link on the line will bring up the school website. As a final, last-gasp, putting the school name into Google Street-View will normally include the school webpage link within the school info, but I never told you that.

cute cartoon1 cute cartoon2 cute cartoon3 cute cartoon4

The interesting feature for me is that a few years ago very few schools had a website or an email address and, suddenly, that has changed with hundreds of identikit websites springing up. Chock-a-block with JavaScript and (oh good lord) the same cute cartoons, and moving pictures. Including more than one with a customised mouse cursor that prevented me from clicking on anything (not deliberate - they had scores of links to click on). The cursor was a little, cute squirrel. I was really wishing that it was a hedgehog, or a porcupine, so that I could stick it sideways up the southern fundament of that page’s web designer.

April update:
After making another couple of hundred site updates, I am astonished at how amateurish many school website designs are underneath their flashy exteriors (an email address just now copying after right-click; the display is correct, but they had not changed the base template value). Every single site requires JavaScript to be switched on. Some have then abused it so badly that most of the page will not display on Chromium, and the only way for me to find the School contact details is to investigate the page source-code. What finally pushed me over the top was receiving — and not for the first time — a popup error:

name-of-school says:
Sorry, Right Click Disabled

So I copied the email address using Ctrl-C instead. I was only trying to see if this site — like so many others — was using broken script to obfuscate the email address before copying it.

9 April further update:
Another hundred or so schools updated and yet another jaw-dropping new discovery with Hempshill Hall Primary School’s website. Or, more probably, former website (the URL is what you would expect but a .com). It is now in French & advertises multiple items, including “Comfort and health Incontinence products”. Their actual site is (notice the absence of ‘primary’ in the name). That must be egg-on-face for someone.

I’ve updated the Website url on OSM! (it still has the wrong-un in EduBase).

Multi-Site Schools - mapped as Multi-Polygon Relations

Synopsis: Schools, Colleges & Universities typically consist of more than one building and/or site; those sites may even be in different towns. Most schools exist on a single, simple Cadastre (the land-parcel for the entire school site) and the latter should be mapped with a Way (closed upon itself, and thus an Area). Multi-site schools with a single EduBase ID should be mapped as each individual school Cadastre mapped into an Area, and all the different areas then placed within a multipolygon relation. A good practical measure is to name each Cadastre intelligently. Examples include “Upper School”, “Fernwood village site”. If building names are known, they should be named as well. That is tremendously helpful if trying to navigate a large site. Addresses are normally placed onto individual Cadastre (if not too large).

For the UK, it first comes down to whether the different sites have a different ID within EduBase (as current schools). If so, then they should be mapped independently, perhaps with a note (or description) to tie them together. Otherwise, each Cadastre should be placed within an area, and the bunch of Cadastre mapped into a Relation.

To refresh the basic point, schools, colleges & universities typically consist of multiple buildings within the same Cadastre (the parcel of land that encompasses the whole site). A full mapping of the school will consist of drawing and naming each building with all roads, paths, fences, parking areas, green places, etc. mapped within the site. The perimeter of the Cadastre is also mapped as an area, and that is also where the Education and often the Address & Contact tags are placed, and especially for small schools.

With multi-site schools with a single EduBase ID this means mapping each Cadastre as above, but NOT mapping Education tags into an individual area. Instead, each Cadastre is placed into a Multi-Polygon Relation, and the Education key/values are mapped onto the Relation. Address/Contact key/values will depend on the individual site(s), being placed into either the Relation, Cadastre or building according to reality on the ground.

HowTo Map: Sites spread far apart are not so easy to establish as a relation. Nevertheless, this is how to start mapping a multi-site school, and how to add each member, in JOSM.

  1. Select at least one of the school Cadastre
  2. Select menu:Presets|Relations|Multipolygon
  3. Enter the name of the school
  4. Select New relation
    (this actually puts you into the Relation editor; name=name-of-school (from #3 above) & type=multipolygon are already present within the Tags section at top, and the school Cadastre is within the Selection section on the lower right & is also present within the Members section at lower left)
  5. Click on Role next to the Cadastre within Members & enter “outer”
  6. Press “Okay”

JOSM can show you all Relations that it has downloaded from OSM by clicking on menu:Windows & clicking on the Relations checkbox so that it is selected. There will then be a Relations section within the Dialogues panel (that panel is switched on/off with the Tab key and/or via the menu:View|Dialogues panel check box). If the relevant relation that you have created is selected within that Dialogue and the Edit button is clicked (or selected via right-click) then you will get the Relation Editor.

Make sure within the Relation Editor for that particular school site relation that all Members (bottom-left section) have the role “outer” (the two options are “inner” & “outer”; “inner” is used within a Multipolygon that has holes; that is possible for a multi-site school, but unlikely). The only Tag (top section) that is required is “type=multipolygon”. The Education & ref:edubase tags will also be placed here, but it is (in my opinion) much easier to do so via the Dialogues panel (see below). Finally, the Relation Editor is one of the ways to add a new Cadastre (school site) to the Multipolygon. That is done by:–

  1. Selecting a new school Cadastre within the main JOSM window
  2. Selecting the school Multipolygon within the Dialogues panel & choose Edit; the new Cadastre is now within the Relation Editor Selection section
  3. Click the “Add all objects” button
  4. Give it a role of “outer”
  5. Click “Okay” to save the Relation

Mapping the Education values: Double-clicking the school Multipolygon Relation within the Dialogues panel will now show it’s Tags within the same panel (make sure that the menu:Windows|Tags/Memberships checkbox is on). The only Tag that is required to be here is “type=multipolygon”. This is the place to put all Tags that are common to all school sites, and thus should be used when a common single EduBase ID applies to every site. In JOSM the Presets|Facilities/Education preset can be used. It may be necessary to click within the Tags section in order to give it focus before any menu actions will be valid.

Final observation

I’ve had to update every school with at least one piece of info, and usually several pieces or all. So, it has been very useful for the map indeed. Only another few hundred thousand to go.

<rant>The one thing that does defeat my imagination is why no-one else has done this before. For it’s size, Nottingham is one of the best-mapped places in OSM. There are a large number of diligent mappers in this region. They have been followed up by others going through all schools and (for example) entering fhrs ids; I’m sure that that is most useful. And yet, it seems that no-one has thought to think for themselves “What will those folks that use OSM want to be able to find within the School (etc.) that they are searching for” and come up with the answer (for example) “contact info”, and thus made sure to enter it for every PoI.</rant>

Something Useful to do Whilst in Covid-19 Lockdown

Posted by alexkemp on 24 March 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 25 May 2020.

Obtain UK Schools info

Above is the link to a recent Diary from CjMalone with info on using to obtain a list of all the UK schools mapped in OSM within a particular Postcode, ordered by how well they correspond to the UK site.

I’m a pensioner and am supposed to slowly rot within my home without any socialisation with any other human. So, no change there. However, whilst we are in that Lockdown state — I’m over 70, and therefore have been instructed by the government to stay isolated at home — I may as well do something useful. I’m currently working my way through NG, and have just completed the 28 Nottinghamshire schools that could not match up with a school at all. That has taken me 3 days. Phew! I’m either superb in my coverage or (far more likely) just very slow.

f12|Remote Control:

If using JOSM, then a useful shortcut is to enable Remote Control (Preferences: f12|Remote Control (LHS vertical column icon)|click in tick-box for 'Enable Remote Control'). Within your Web Browser, be sure to disable all Script restrictions for OSM, else there can be no inter-connection. Then, with JOSM launched, and whilst logged in to your OSM account in a browser, and with the relevant part of the map active (for me at this instance:, click on the browser Edit drop-down and choose Edit with Remote Control. You can now switch to JOSM and that Way is waiting for you to edit it. Be sure to disconnect the Remote Control facility after use unless you want your computer to (possibly) be open to the internet.


The key for (as best as I can tell) is that it looks for the ref:edubase=(URN number) to relate the OSM school with the site, so make sure to add that. There have been a lot of school changes as they have become Primary schools (rather than Junior) or Academies, etc., so there may be a name update to make as well. The key here would be to edit name=Example Junior to become old_name=Example Junior and then add the new name.

The OSM advised method is to create an Area for the School perimeter (in JOSM use the ‘A’ key to create connected nodes and eventually join to create a circumference of the whole School) and use the menu:Presets|Facilities|Education|School (or college) to add the school (or college) + ref:edubase value into that Area (edubase is NOT part of the Preset, and thus needs to be added by itself). Complete that with menu:Presets|Annotation|Address for the postal address & menu:Presets|Annotation|Contact for the Website, etc..

I continue to have problems with this. Here is my brief guide, but feel free to correct me in the comments (see also wiki:ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) scale:

  • isced:level=0 : Infants/Nursery :: before age 5-7
  • isced:level=1 : Primary :: age 5 → 11
  • isced:level=2 : Secondary/Academy :: age 11 → 15
  • isced:level=3 : Sixth Form College :: age 15 → 18
  • isced:level=4 : University :: age 18 →
  • isced:level=5 : University :: age 18 →


House Number:
If empty, then place the School/College name into House name
Place name:
I’ve had a school within an Industrial Estate. This is the place for the name of that Estate (and the Unit number goes into Unit/Suite) but you will have to click through a dumb warning.
City name:
This is the nearest large Town/City. Small towns go into Suburb.
Whilst the OSM system can determine the Postcode from the location (it already has a full set of Postcode centroids as those are all opensource now) human visitors cannot, so it is a good idea to add them.
Country code:
Do not bother
Useful if the school is located within a large multi-level building or multi-unit Estate, etc.
House name:
Most Schools & Colleges need their name here.
If just a handful of buildings, it is a hamlet.
Also used for small towns.
This would be the best option for the UK ‘County’ value. However, the general advice is not to bother (as long as that part of the country has a full set of boundary relations in place) as the system will derive the County from those. Thanks to CjMalone for that.

Added later:
Whilst the wiki gives that advice, it does completely ignore the fact that many visitors are humans who may just want to know what the County is. They are not part of the “system” and nowhere on a school way does OSM show the County, nor give a method to discover it, unless someone has explicitly added it. If the system auto-filled a County field for every school, then the wiki advice would make sense. It does not, so the wiki advice is non-sense.

May 25 update:
If a feature is highlit on the map the Search box (LHS) shows a “Where is this?” link, which will bring up a full address listing.

How to Stop the Spam/Abuse

Posted by alexkemp on 6 August 2019 in English (English). Last updated on 12 October 2019.


This was originally posted by myself on 12 May 2019 as a response to the then–current astonishing volumes of “wfgz spam” & “vip spam” affecting these Diary pages (upto 30,000 spam-posts each day, starting 25 April). That existential threat appears to have receded (see the first part of the Bot-Flood Stats page), but the continual background trickle of spam– & nonsense–posts (upto 10 a day) continues.

It should be possible to easily shut off that vile flow without badly affecting valid OSM users. This post reflects on the current situation, and seeks to present my own suggestions and to provoke comments to perhaps obtain even better methods.

Institute a “No-edit, No-diary” rule.

All current spam & abuse would stop the instant that the privilege of posting to this Diary was restricted to those that have added to the map. My suggestion would be a parameter of ‘10 changesets’ to relax that rule.

There are further steps that would need to be taken to make sure that such a rule would not cause collateral damage to the map:

  1. Moderate New-User Map Edits
    Map edits by new users should be human-moderated by being placed into a hidden queue. A team of volunteers that are seasoned mappers can then be assigned Moderator rights to accept/reject map-edits within the hidden queue. Such moderation should only be lifted once the user has shown themselves to be a human with (say) 10 useful map edits. Diary posts would be auto-prevented until the statutory number of Map edits was completed. Once completed that restriction would be auto-removed.

  2. Auto-remove Unused Accounts
    Auto-remove all those that acquire an OSM account but never update the map within (say) 2 weeks.


OSM Diary pages both share features in common with blogs, forums, etc. and at the same time are different. The features shared in common are:–

  • Any member of the public can create an OSM account
  • That account can be used to make public posts into the Diary pages
  • The above is highly attractive to both those that spam & those that write graffiti

Neither Spam nor Graffiti are unusual, and all blogs/forums/etc. have to get to grips with it or stop trading. As an electronic medium, there are 2 aspects for every blog/forum/etc. to consider:–

  1. Bot spam/graffiti
  2. Human spam/graffiti

The first can NOT be handled by human means (intervention needs to be scripted, and this is where Firewall rules often appear, amongst other methods including the use of external services such as Cloudflare), whilst the second can NOT be handled by scripted methods, and normally requires human Moderators.


The OSM Admin reported on 18 May:–

  • ~6% of currently active posts are from an account which has never edited
  • ~10% posts were made before the user had any edits

Map-spam & Map-abuse

The OSM map is currently subject to considerable spam. That ranges from folks dropping nodes at their current business location with nothing but a website in it, to random map spam, to extensive Notes spam (possibly using a bot). Moderating new users would stop all that spam instantly, and OSM existing users are enthusiastic to get involved in helping new users map responsibly.


The Bot Stats page gives conclusive proof that these OSM Diary pages have been included within bot-spamming software such as XRumer (Wikipedia, History). That fact does not actually make any sense!

Spam-bots such as XRumer are a commercial Franchise (exactly like McDonalds) that recruit hundreds of franchisees to use the Franchisor bots to farm hundreds of thousands of Forums using open-source software. The commercial model depends upon the existence of all those blogs, forums, guestbooks, boards, BBS, CMS and other platforms using the same, identical software. OSM is a tiny backwater compared to those, and should be uninteresting. Nevertheless, for some reason both OpenClipArt and OpenStreetMap got hit at the same time by bots.

Human-abuse examples

karolparkitny is a non-mapper that signed up to OSM on 26 May & made a nonsense post in Polish the same day (that is not an insult, that is what Karol says in a reply to a comment to his post asking “What is the point of this?”). Karol complains that he can post but not remove his post:–

And what’s the point in this post?

Totally for nothing, you can delete and I would gladly do it, but I do not have permission. It turned out that in OSM you can only add a journal entry without being deleted … a bit strange.

c0077w (a spammer username if ever I have seen one) signed up on 18 May. To this day it has never edited the map. On the same day as signing up — and possibly within 2 micro-seconds of doing so — it posted the following in Arabic (I’ve translated it into EN and copied both Title & post-text in full):

Abu Dhabi Al Shamheh

That is just 2 Unicode characters for the post text:–

  • “.” (U+002E FULL STOP)

There is zero point in leaving all these nonsense posts in place.

OpenClipArt suffered DDOS in early May, Still Offline today

Posted by alexkemp on 18 July 2019 in English (English). Last updated on 19 July 2019.

OpenClipArt Twitter Statement

6:53 am - 3 May 2019 — UPDATE: Our plan is to get the site back online early next week. Under DDOS attack from some unknown forces, the simplest thing to protect our beloved Openclipart is to keep offline at present. Your CLIPART is SAFE.

I was trying to obtain an EPS pair of scissors this evening using File | Import Clip Art… under Inkscape (which is setup to use by default) but got zero result, not even an error message. The OCA index page showed a most peculiar message (“Openclipart is PROTECTED.”) which did not help someone in my position that was unaware of the cause. Then finally DuckDuckGo got me there to twitter.

You will see that these OSM Diaries also suffered constant bot attack starting late April which caused the site admin to take them offline from Search-Engines on 24 May (and again on 23 Jun) as to stop the attacks. It surely cannot be a coincidence that two non-commercial sites run by volunteers both suffered DDOS attacks within a few days of each other, causing both admin to hide their sites from public view as to mitigate the attacks. Of course, the reason for those attacks is still currently unknown.

The nature of these DDOS attacks is also uncertain. OSM used the site-wide robots.txt (see also diary/390115) to stop the bot-flood (OCA does not appear to have a robots.txt). That was physically enacted by two Disallow lines in the text-file:

Disallow: /user/*/diary
Disallow: /diary

If you understand that the Robots exclusion standard is advisory, a little bit of thought will make it obvious that the fact that the bots stopped when the above was placed into robots.txt means that they were spam-bots. However, there were zero links or spam within (most of) their posts. Further, DDOS actions are almost always as to extract large amounts of money from the victims (it is effectively a technological mugging). What is the point in mugging non-commercial sites?

PoI Musings

Posted by alexkemp on 12 July 2019 in English (English). Last updated on 24 July 2019.


This was originally posted by myself on 5 June 2019; it is another Diary as part of mapping Nottingham’s Creative Quarter, this time musing on Points of Interest (PoI) as part of mapping for OSM.

A conversation with the lady at AST Auto Centre

I could not be certain either from my original visit nor from our Bing imagery whether some central buildings were occupied by the Ashley St. Auto Centre (below) or by a business on the opposite side of the block on Handel Street, so phoned the number on the business card that the lady at AST had given me on 17 May. This was 4 June so I did not expect her to remember me but she did, and mentioned the little leaflet that I had given her.

I quickly sorted the original reason for the call (AST occupies those buildings), but as soon as I mentioned OSM she immediately responded about the number of enquiries that the business gets via Google maps (I had never mentioned Google). I brightly informed her that the updated mapping should be available within the next hour. AST Auto Centre

SEO == “Search Engine Optimisation”

(this is almost always a euphemism for “SPAM”)

In a former life as a website owner & operator I spent my time fighting to keep spam out of my site forums + trying to keep the site firmly within Google’s gaze. Whilst many spammers are profoundly stupid, it was not lost on me that there is some fierce intelligence at play behind the entire spam business, else they would have long ago dissolved into the void. I was not too proud to learn from these experts where I could find it, at the same time as I did my best to kill them dead on my site. I attempt to put all the SEO intelligence that I have gathered into practical application with these diary posts, as one example, making them as attractive as possible firstly to the human readers but also to the bots operated by the Search-Engines. If both find them attractive then OSM wins again.

I was very interested in the response from the lady at AST. It was the first time that I had had such positive feedback on the idea of OSM, and it seemed a good endorsement of both the promotional leaflets (well done to Andy Allan) and also of OSM.

I’ve spent 30-odd years of my life as a professional salesman, and therefore it often colours my approach to things. With OSM it was immediately obvious that the map is a boon for every business — what a marketing opportunity! I therefore work tirelessly to promote every business that I meet during my surveys. (For newer mappers: in OSM-speak these businesses are called ‘PoI’, which is to say “Points of Interest”) I collect Business Cards/Compliment Slips/Brochures whilst mapping so that back at home all of the business’s most important contact information can be put up on the map. If the OSM map is an easily-referenced source of information for most businesses, then it will become very interesting for the common customer, which is good for customers, good for businesses, and good for OSM. The kind of virtuous circle that we need.

Public Service Information:– Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Brochures

For the benefit of younger mappers, since I’ve often had young folks telling me that they do not know what I’m talking about when I’ve asked for one of these items:–

Business Cards

These are dead trees processed into stiff paper (ask your teachers if you are unfamiliar with the idea of paper) and then printed with the business, personal name of the business owners + address & contact numbers. They are intended to be given to other people during personal meetings to facilitate marketing promotion of the business. Please approach your health professional if you have been triggered by the idea of a one-on-one personal meeting, but this is actually quite normal during business life.

Compliment Slips

These are dead trees processed into (typically) a ⅓ of an A4 sheet of paper (ask your teachers if you are unfamiliar with the idea of paper) and then pre-printed — normally on just one side — with the name, address & other contact details of the business. They are intended to be placed into the same envelope as a letter. Ask your teachers if you are unfamiliar with the idea of an envelope or a postal-letter.


These are dead trees processed into (typically) a series of A5 sheets of paper (ask your teachers if you are unfamiliar with the idea of paper) and folded (brochures) or bound (booklets) after pre-printing with information about the business & it’s activities.

A final item, often overlooked it seems to me by others, is that these Diaries are a very good method to put up URLs in the map that can be indexed by the SEs.

Location: St Ann's, Nottingham, East Midlands, England, NG3 4QP, United Kingdom

Bot-Flood Stats

Posted by alexkemp on 12 July 2019 in English (English).


This was originally posted by myself on 6 May 2019. It is an attempt to document the then-recent spam/abuse problem within these Diaries in a scientific manner. The idea was to allow the wider community to get a fuller grasp on the issues and help answer some fundamental questions. After all, nobody knows everything. Here is my attempt to state some of those questions and to try to answer some of them:–

Some Questions:

  1. Is this Spam, Abuse, or a mixture of the two?
    (the motivation behind those two are completely different)
  2. Are they bot-posts, human-posts, or a mixture of the two?
    (prevention mechanisms for those two differ)
  3. What are the best methods to prevent this from continuing?
    (best practices have been evolved across the last 20 years, but OSM is not your typical forum/blog)

Some Answers:

  • There is a general, continual background issue in the Diaries of what appears to be human-posted spam/abuse of up-to 10 posts / day. These range from nonsense posts to actual spam.
  • Apr 22: a series of bot-posts began
    (that fact determined by speed and duration)
  • The bot-posts did not contain url-links
    (thus technically not spam)
  • Apr 25 → May 23: those bot-posts rapidly escalated into an average of 11,044 posts / day (min 1, max 29,340)
  • May 14, 3am → 7am BST: bots hit these Diaries at a combined maximum rate of 66 post/minute and averaged 27 post/minute
  • 18 May: an attempt to stop the bot flood was made by a broken change to robots.txt, intended to prevent Search Engines from indexing the Diaries
  • 19 May: the broken change to robots.txt was fixed
  • 20 May: the bot-flood abruptly ended (confirming it to be a spam-flood rather than abuse-flood), stuttered into life again on 22 May & finished for good on 23 May
  • June 5: a broken link to the non-existent sitemap within robots.txt was fixed
  • June 6, 17:07:41 GMT: the robots.txt 5 June fix was allocated to a 4-year-old issue (evidenced by the Last-Modified date obtained shortly after)
  • 15 June, 23:56 two more changes ([1] [2]) to robots.txt re-opened the Diaries to be indexed again
  • 20 June: the wfgz bots are re-sending 1,000s of posts to the Diaries again
  • 23 June: the same robots.txt changes as before to stop Diary indexing successfully stop the bot-flood
  • 2 July, 19:16:03 GMT: the same robots.txt changes as before to revert stopping Diary indexing
  • 12 July: so far no repeat of the bot-flood. Hooray!

The post of 6 May now continues verbatim.
Mention was made in my last diary and also in Sam Wilson’s diary about the large amounts of spam coming in to overwhelm these Diary pages. In good scientific manner here is a quantification of the issue, obtained by examining ID numbers for all recent surviving Diary posts.


Diary posts are incremented serially. Thus, deducting the theoretical number of posts by the actual number of posts leads to the measure of how many spammer posts may have been removed.

The Numbers
    Date    End-ID  ---------Posts---------
                   Actual   Theory      Diff
    12 Apr   48187      -              (spam)
    13 Apr   48193      5        6         1
    14 Apr   48195      1        2         1
Mon 15 Apr   48202      2        7         5
    16 Apr   48216      5       14         9
    17 Apr   48223      2        7         5
    18 Apr   48234      5       11         6
    19 Apr   48242      5        8         3
    20 Apr   48252      8       10         2
    21 Apr   48255      2        3         1
Mon 22 Apr   48287      4       32        28
    23 Apr   48378     12       91        79
    24 Apr   48385      1        7         6
    25 Apr   56488      6    8,103     8,097
    26 Apr   74643      8   18,155    18,147
    27 Apr   99519      2   24,876    24,874
    28 Apr  128866      7   29,347    29,340
Mon 29 Apr  140684      3   11,818    11,815
    30 Apr  149349      4    8,665     8,661
     1 May  152912     13    3,563     3,550
     2 May  156826      8    3,914     3,906
     3 May  158835      2    2,009     2,007
     4 May  158837      1        2         1
     5 May  172694      6   13,857    13,851
Mon  6 May  193238      6   20,544    20,538
     7 May  210953      2   17,715    17,713
     8 May  218281      4    7,328     7,324
     9 May  240069      2   21,788    21,786
    10 May  256019      7   15,950    15,943
    11 May  270022      1   14,003    14,002
    12 May  275013      8    4,991     4,983
Mon 13 May  276830      2    1,817     1,815
    14 May  283239      2    6,409     6,407
    15 May  291589      2    8,350     8,348
    16 May  296320      1    4,731     4,730
    17 May  318162      6   21,842    21,836
    18 May  339272      2   21,110    21,108
    19 May  347443      2    8,171     8,169
Mon 20 May  364479      3   17,036    17,033
    21 May  364493      7       14         7
    22 May  364971      4      479       475
    23 May  368657      4    3,686     3,682
    24 May  368669      8       12         4
    25 May  368675      3        6         3
    26 May  368682      4        7         3
Mon 27 May  368691      3        9         6
    28 May  368702      3       11         8
    29 May  368711      2        9         7
    30 May  368716      2        5         3
    31 May  368725      7        9         2
     1 Jun  368726      1        1         0
     2 Jun  368734      2        8         6
Mon  3 Jun  368750      7       16         9
     4 Jun  368753      2        3         1
     5 Jun  368757      2        4         2
     6 Jun              0        0         0
     7 Jun  368766      2        9         7
     8 Jun  368773      3        7         4

Between 25 Apr & 23 May (29 days):
-------------------------  -------
            Total  :  124  320,272
            Daily  :    4   11,044
-------------------------  -------

Update 8 May:

01:52am BST: I dropped in on the 1st of tonight’s spammers:

Title: translation of ID=210955: Being vomited and vomiting frlse
Text : 苟颜德缕uwrfh 苟颜德缕uwrfh 苟颜德缕uwrfh..wfgz

09:37am BST Sunday 12 May:

The latest spammer is /user/twuptyoe378/diary/274627 (removed)
The first spammer:

Title: translation of ID=270023: Vomiting
Text : 07633abawl

Update 14 May:

The first 3 posts shortly after 1am BST were the now-classic Bengali (bn) wfgz spam. Here is the very first:

Title: (ID=276831): 暮铣德娜侗cjenp
Text : 肆考韭缕节oqgwr肆考韭缕节oqgwr肆考韭缕节oqgwr..wfgz

After 90 minutes we began to get some Chinese (zh-CN) vip spam, which continues until shortly before 20:42 BST. Once again, here is the very first:

Title: (ID=282971): 北京幸运28官方网站
Text : 北京幸运28官方网站 【导师微信:<redacted>】【网址<redacted>.vip 】【加拿大28稳赢法】…

Update 15 May to discover spam stats:

I put in place a cron-job Monday to save the current Diary top-page every 10 minutes from 01:00 BST until 10:00 BST. I investigated it today using egrep & tabulated the listing below.

These are the rates at which the wfgz spammers dropped their spam into these Diaries over the night of 14 May. You will see that they hit a maximum rate of 66 post/minute and averaged 27 post/minute. The spam began shortly after 3am BST and stopped (presumably due to the intervention of OSM admin) at about 7am. As best I can tell, all of the posts made between those times were from these wfgz spammers.

Date        1st Post Posts
------------ ------- -----
May 14 07:10  279688     -
May 14 07:00  282939    66
May 14 06:50  282873   424
May 14 06:40  282449   119
May 14 06:30  282330   167
May 14 06:20  282163   234
May 14 06:10  281929   426
May 14 06:00  281503   231
May 14 05:50  281272   129
May 14 05:40  281143   182
May 14 05:30  280961   292
May 14 05:20  280669   237
May 14 05:10  280432   659
May 14 05:00  279773   130
May 14 04:50  279643   190
May 14 04:40  279453   120
May 14 04:30  279333   321
May 14 04:20  279012   186
May 14 04:10  278826   347
May 14 04:00  278479   466
May 14 03:50  278013   223
May 14 03:40  277790   244
May 14 03:30  277546   342
May 14 03:20  277204   342
May 14 03:10  276862    28
May 14 03:00  276834     0
May 14 02:50  276834     1
May 14 02:40  276833     0
------------ ------- -----
            minimum:   119
            maximum:   659
            average:   273