Adding road names from TIGER using MapRoulette

Posted by mvexel on 9 November 2018 in English (English)

TIGER is the street database from the U.S. Census. An old version of TIGER was used to bootstrap OSM in the U.S. back in 2008. We have come a long way since then (see image below) and OSM is now much better than TIGER in most places.

Image from

New versions of TIGER are released every year and they are still useful. Local governments update it with new roads and street names. If you compare new TIGER data with what’s in OSM, you get useful information about where OSM may need improving. If you edit in iD, you get visual cues when roads are missing:

You have to stumble upon them, though. And you only see new roads, not if a street that didn’t have a name now has one.

My colleagues in the Telenav map team have run OSM and TIGER 2017 through our Cygnus conflation engine to find those streets in OSM that don’t have names yet, but TIGER does have a name. We put them in MapRoulette for a few select areas.

MapRoulette is a micro-task tool that I built originally to clean up the redaction mess after the license change. These days, it is available to anyone who wants help to fix all kinds of small problems in OSM. Scroll through my recent diary entries and you will find blog posts about MapRoulette. Right now I just wanted to walk you through solving these TIGER based name adding challenges.

First I select one of the TIGER Challenges in MapRoulette, for example this one for New Orleans.

The first task I get is this one here:

I have three options on the left, Edit (which takes me to my preferred editor, you can set this in your MapRoulette user profile), Not an Issue for if you can already see on the map that there is no issue, or Skip if for whatever reason you’d rather leave this task to somebody else.

Clicking Edit takes me to my preferred editor, JOSM.

And in fact this street segment has no name. The TIGER roads overlay tells me that this is just a part of Lake Trail Drive. I fix the error and upload.

MapRoulette has already taken care of pre-filling a changeset comment and source, but you’re of course welcome to tweak these to your liking.

After the upload completes I am ready to switch to MapRoulette in my browser, click I fixed it and go on to the next task.

Finally, here’s a list of all TIGER name challenge we have currently. If you want your city or area included, let me know!

Happy Mapping!

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