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Geography Awareness Week and OpenStreetMap

Posted by sejohnson on 2 June 2014 in English (English)

I was recently invited to participate in planning events for Geography Awareness Week[1]. I'm really excited about this opportunity for several reasons. First, the OpenStreetMap community has a lot to offer in terms of mapping as an activity. We have many excellent technologists, a superb platform, a community that spans the globe, -all of which we can offer in support of promoting geographic awareness and education.

Secondly, this is a chance for a more formal collaboration between the OpenStreetMap community and National Geographic (NGS), Association of American Geographers (AAG), and the National Council of Geographic Educators (NCGE) and help them incorporate OpenStreetMap into their programs.

Please visit the Geography Awareness Week page for complete information.

And consider signing up on the wiki page to sponsor an event.

2013 OSM US Board Election: Manifesto

Posted by sejohnson on 4 October 2013 in English (English)

Who Am I?

Hello, I'm Steven Johnson based in Arlington, VA. I've been active in the OSM project since 2008, played a part in organizing the US Chapter, and served on the inaugural board in 2010. I'm active in organizing mapping parties and editathons mostly in the Washington, DC area, and mostly through MappingDC. In the last year, I organized an OSM working group within the US Census Bureau and have been conducting mapping parties as part of an effort to establish a partnership between OSM and the Census Bureau.

Here is why I've decided to run again:

  • Forging relationships between government agencies and OpenStreetMap is becoming increasingly important. Collaborative relationships between OSM and agencies can reduce the risk inherent in data imports as well as generate interest in OSM. Plus, I believe that a cadre of citizen mappers have a key role to play in building strong, public institutions. Many local governments cannot afford to collect the level of detail we put into OpenstreetMap, so the map is an ideal place for public agencies and citizens to collaborate.

  • Closely related to the above, I want to solidify the relationship between the OSM project and the US Census Bureau. The OSM community is one of the largest constituencies for Bureau data (specifically, TIGER) and having a liaison benefits both the Bureau and OSM. Also, the value of OSM to the Bureau's operations has barely been explored. I have been able to expose many in the Bureau to OpenStreetMap and help them identify ways it can benefit Bureau operations. I very much want to continue this advocacy.

  • Education and outreach is a growing focus of mine, particularly as a means to increase the diversity of the OpenStreetMap community. I'd like to initiate efforts to get OpenStreetMap taught to middle- and high-school students so we cultivate a stream of new mappers to the project as well as interest students in geography and their environment. I could contribute to a curriculum, like 'Learn OSM' or conduct trainings and seminars.

  • Lastly, I love mapping! I want to continue to increase the utility of the map. I maintain an active focus on improving address quality and road connectivity (to support routing). Arlington, VA is my 'garden', where I have added and maintain all the public buildings, parks, and facilities to the map as well as a great number of commercial establishments.

  • Lastly, I'm excited to work with this great slate of candidates!

Location: Spy Hill, Ballston, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, 22205, United States of America

Spring #Editathon: adding public institutions

Posted by sejohnson on 18 April 2013 in English (English)

One way to judge the utility of a base map such as OpenStreetMap is by how well public institutions are represented. To that end, I've taken it upon myself to map all of the public facilities in Arlington, VA. I recently completed mapping all of the public schools (and quite a few private ones). This coming weekend's editathon I'll complete the addition of firehouses, police stations, and libraries. Parks and community centers may take more time and research, as there are many more of them than there are other facilities. But soon, all of Arlington's public facilities/institutions should be represented on the map.

Falls Church to Arlington, VA, along Lee Highway

Posted by sejohnson on 3 March 2013 in English (English)

I've been digitizing a lot of building footprints and parking lots in the last week or so, in preparation for an upcoming mapping party in Falls Church, VA. User OpenBrian has advocated this technique as a means for making the editing/tagging phase of the mapping party more productive. The theory (I think) is that it simplifies the process of transfering field notes onto some pre-existing geometric shape. I'm beginning to see that it maximizes the effectiveness of arm-chair mapping as well, since even the most familiar of landscapes have easily-overlooked details that require a site visit.

So, to test this out I've added a considerable amount of detail to commercial and institutional buildings along Lee Highway starting in Falls Church and proceeding east into Arlington. I typically add the building footprint, adjacent parking lots and parking aisles. Later I'll add business/institutional names, addresses, and other useful information as time permits, typically one or two at a time.

Location: Highland Park, Ballston, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, 22205, United States of America

Westover, Arlington, VA

Posted by sejohnson on 7 March 2011 in English (English)

Westover is a neighborhood in Arlington, VA which has a vibrant, little commercial strip that serves as a hub for the community. Today, I finished adding all the commercial and institutional (bank, library, post office) services along the commercial strip. Each item added includes street address and name of the business/service. Now, on to the rest of Arlington...!

Location: Highland Park, Ballston, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, 22205, United States of America

Triangle NC mapping party

Posted by sejohnson on 23 September 2010 in English (English)

I posted to Talk-US but thought I might also announce it here: a mapping party is in the works 2 - 3 October in Raleigh/Cary. If you're in the area, please bring your GPS (or Walking Papers) and come out!

Where are we going to be mapping? There will be 2 main areas:
Saturday: Downtown Raleigh and close-in neighborhoods (NCSU, Meredith College, Cameron Village, etc.)
Sunday: Research Triangle/Cary, including American Tobacco Trail

Saturday: 11 AM at DH Hill Library on the NCSU campus ( ) (Parking info:

Sunday: 11 AM at Triangle J Council of Governments, 4307 Emperor Blvd, Durham, NC 27703 ( )

We'll map in the field for a couple hours, return to the meetup locations for upload and import, then adjourn in the late afternoon to a nearby watering hole/restaurant.

Do I have to attend on both Saturday and Sunday? No, only do as much as you would like.

Where do I sign up? Here:

After you sign up, EventBrite service will send you a ticket for the event that you can safely ignore. We just want to get a head count.

Hope to see you there!

Adding details for Acadia National Park

Posted by sejohnson on 25 August 2010 in English (English)

This week, I'm adding a number trails, waypoints, and other points of interest in and around Acadia National Park in Maine. I've been using the MapZen application, mostly for quickly collecting waypoints of commercial establishments and using the Garmin GPS Map 60CXS for collecting the tracks of trails, and more remote waypoints. Most of this area was part of the original TIGER import, so I've been correcting the alignment of many linear features and bringing the road names into agreement with the OSM model.

One quick update: many of the carriage roads in Acadia National Park, and (astonishingly) some of the hiking trails, were originally part of the TIGER import. While I have updated the alignment and corrected the topology and connectivity of these features, I have kept the original TIGER tags, but changed the tag TIGER_reviewed=yes.

Location: Shore Road, Manset, Hancock County, Maine, 04679, United States of America

MappingDC: Mapping Manassas Battlefield

Posted by sejohnson on 6 June 2010 in English (English)

The MappingDC group sponsored a mapping party today at Manassas Battlefield Park west of Washington,DC. We'll be uploading our traces and editing these over the next few days. In addition to mapping trails, we collected waypoints for many historical/cultural landmarks such as cannon batteries, monuments, and ruins. This is one area where the OSM tag set needs to be extended to accommodate these kinds of features.

Location: West Gate, Prince William County, Virginia, 20109, United States of America

Update on recent activity

Posted by sejohnson on 26 August 2009 in English (English)

Uploaded a slew of GPS traces that have been accumulating for a year or more. Most of these are in and around Washington,DC, Virginia, and North Carolina and have varying degrees of positional accuracy, depending on whether the trace is a footpath or interstate highway.

I've also entered some hiking trails in Pisgah National Forest (NC) for Black Balsam Knob and Graveyard Ridge. Black Mountain crest is pending. Also added some hiking trails in the Shenandoah National Park. Specifically, Rose River Falls and Dark Hollow Falls. Still have to enter some segments of Appalachian Trail in same vicinity.

Location: Highland Park, Ballston, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, 22205, United States of America