First buildings and addresses in New York City

Posted by lxbarth on 15 October 2013 in English (English).

Last Saturday we officially kicked off the NYC building and address import with a community session hosted by OSM-NYC and Public Labs at the Pfizer building in Brooklyn. The goal was to get the local NYC OSM community involved in this large data undertaking and at the same time harden our import process.

Over 20 people attended, and we knocked out 158 of the over 5000+ sub-tasks total. Both turn out and tasks accomplished were great and exceeded what I expected for a casual Saturday afternoon event.


We’ve also discovered an address formatting issue and a geometry conversion issue that put the import on hold until they are addressed.

Working through this import we’re learning very interesting lessons:

  • OSM data structure is significantly different from traditional GIS, nailing down conceptual differences when translating to OSM takes time.
  • Importing is a high inertia problem, partly due to sheer volume but also due to the lack of a solid tool chain like safe roll back tools or established conversion tools.
  • Expect interesting quality issues in your source data. NYC data for instance has inconsistent address formatting in the source.
  • Doing a fully automated import is non-trivial. For example, in NYC, buildings often intersect with misaligned TIGER roads. That’s one big reason this import is not fully automated.
  • Once all data is uploaded, we’ll need a QA check on inconsistent data to catch any errors introduced by humans during the upload.
  • This all feels a little like heart surgery.

Here are a couple of pictures and screenshots from the Saturday event. If you’d like to get involved drop me a line. Again, the import is on hold until a couple of issues are sorted out, but you’re welcome to join.

screen shot 2013-10-13 at 11 55 18 pm


screen shot 2013-10-13 at 11 42 21 pm


screen shot 2013-10-13 at 11 52 14 pm

Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, 11249, United States

Comment from Stalfur on 15 October 2013 at 10:53

Interesting. Are we able to create own projects on Task Manager yet? I am not useful for NYC but have two sparsely populated countries in mind.

Comment from lxbarth on 15 October 2013 at 14:27

Hey there - you can easily install your own tasking manager from here

Comment from ColinReilly on 15 October 2013 at 14:29

What inconsistent address formatting issues were uncovered in the data? Send me the details so they can be addressed (no pun intended).

Comment from chrismcnally on 13 November 2013 at 17:37

Alex, can we get back to work on this? are the issues resolved? Thanks

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