New roads are built and opened for traffic around the world every single day. In many places, these are added to OSM by watchful mappers right away. Not everywhere though. There are still many places where there are few local mappers, and new construction goes unseen for a while. Available aerial imagery can be pretty outdated, so armchair mappers are not always able to help out either.
Lots of people drive on these new roads from day 1. And we’re in luck - a bunch of them are usually Scout users :) This means that they contribute GPS traces of the missing roads to us. Lots. Of. Traces. Enough for us to come up with a good guess about where new roads might be that are not on OSM yet.
We have done just that! I am excited to announce the Missing Roads project, opening up the aggregated, processed GPS data pointing at missing roads as a convenient JOSM plugin.
Here’s how it works. First you download the Missing Roads plugin from right within JOSM. After a restart, you will notice an extra Missing Roads layer. It looks like small and big dots if you’re zoomed out, and a grid with point clouds if you’re zoomed in.
You will notice different color grid cells and point clouds once you’re zoomed further in. The grid colors indicate whether someone has marked that cell as completed or invalid. You can do that from within the plugin. If you find tiles that are done or not actually missing roads, please mark them and help your fellow mappers out.
One thing we noticed pretty soon once we started digging into the results is that lots of people leave Scout on when they’re looking for parking. This means that lots of ‘results’ are actually people driving around parking lots. Interesting, but not as interesting as real new roads. So you can filter those out. We distinguish between the two types based mostly on average speed, so it’s not always spot on. But it helps.
Finally, we also have a web map where you can easily browse and explore the data, and check for unfinished cells in your region. It links back to
This is version 1. Let us know what you think. How we can improve the plugin and the web app. Other ways you would like to see this data exposed. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to me directly on OSM IRC channels, skype (mvexel) or twitter. There’s also a little feedback box in the web app where you can submit ideas.
(Source of historic photo: Flickr Commons)