unen's Diary

Recent diary entries

After some discussion we at Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific have decided not to limit both you and ourselves with weekly fixed time slots, and to support you on your OSM-related issues in an in-need basis.

So, whenever you need support on an OSM-related issue, feel free to contact me by sending a message, an e-mail or by filling out the appointment form and I will get back to you quickly. We can discuss the topic in writing, or set up a short call depending on our calendar availabilities and tackle the challenge together. I’d be very happy to support you in your learning process, and for most of the times the topics discussed are acting as refreshers for me, too.

Here are what was discussed during the past week:

Discussion Topics:

  • ”How can I download OSM data within a specific area of interest using Overpass Turbo?”

You can directly write the name of the region as available in its name=* tag in OpenStreetMap in your queries since overpass syntax supports geocoding.

Suppose that you are interested in the parks of Istanbul. Writing leisure=park in Istanbul to the wizard will generate you this query:

[out:json][timeout:25]; {{geocodeArea:Istanbul}}->.searchArea; ( node["leisure"="park"](area.searchArea); way["leisure"="park"](area.searchArea); relation["leisure"="park"](area.searchArea); ); out body; >; out skel qt;

You’ll see the use of geocoder to define the search area in the line:


  • ”Cannot get data within the area of interest.”

One reason for it might be that your area of interest might be having the same name with other places in the World. It might be that the query brings data for a different place with the same name, or an empty dataset.

Another reason might be that the place name would consist of multiple words like New Orleans. In that case, while using the wizard, you must write the place name in apostrophes like:

leisure=park in ‘New Orleans’

This is also valid for values in tags or usernames which consist of multiple words as well.

Alternatively, the Export Tool allows you to specify areas of interest as geometries. So if you have your area of interest in GeoJSON format, you can go ahead and export OpenStreetMap data using the Export Tool as well.

Location: Küçükyalı Merkez Mahallesi, Maltepe, Istanbul, Marmara Region, 34840, Türkiye

Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific Help Desk Recap and Other Updates - #3

Posted by unen on 1 April 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 2 April 2022.

The OSM Help Desk of the Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific is slowly and steadily continuing while we discuss different matters with different people every week, both online and offline, when scheduling and connectivity doesn’t allow us to meet online. And I am also personally enjoying these discussions since I am too, refreshing or expanding my knowledge on some topics along the way. So please keep the appointments coming via this online form.

Discussion Topics:

  • ”I am part of an organization and we want to be advanced OSM contributors.”

There are lots of entry points to get to know about Openstreetmap: Wiki being the main one and LearnOSM another very good resource for this purpose.

But if you’re also aiming to gain expertise and become trainers in your community, or planning high-impact mapping projects and activities and want to build capacity on those, please let HOTOSM or the Open Mapping Hubs in Asia-Pacific, Eastern and Southern Africa, Northern and Western Africa or Latin America to learn how they could help you achieve these goals.

  • ”I would like to learn how to map properly. Especially on Tasking Manager.”

Again, the Tasking Manager section of LearnOSM is going to provide almost everything you need to know on how to properly contribute to OSM using Tasking Manager.

Additionally, please feel free to use and distribute this little cheat-sheet we’ve recently put together at the Hub. Squeezed in and packed up knowledge for you, bragging rights for us :)

You can access the cheat-sheet here

Location: Küçükyalı Merkez Mahallesi, Maltepe, Istanbul, Marmara Region, 34840, Türkiye

The Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific’s OSM Help Desk had got into a small break just one week after it had started due to international travel. Between 5 and 14 March 2022, the Hub gathered in Nepal for its first in-person gather for co-working sessions and meet-ups with the local OSM community. We were able to meet with enthusiastic student groups from the geomatics engineering departments of Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University Western Regional College and conduct workshops and training sessions on field mapping tools, disaster management with InaSAFE, and JOSM troubleshooting on March 11 and March 14.

Although we didn’t organize an online Help Desk session after returning, there were still non-synchronous communication on OSM-related questions or issues from the community. Yes, I’m asking you to go ahead and book an online session here, but you can also get in touch with me via can.unen[at] or shoot a direct message here.

Discussion Topics:

  • Is there any way to download OSM data from past, for a certain area?

Yes, you can access and download the history dumps of OpenStreetMap via Planet OSM, going back until 2013. Similarly, GeoFabrik also has historical data.

If you are looking for a specific date interval, you can use Overpass queries for relatively smaller regions. You can build queries on timestamps: newer filter would enable to look for objects which have been changed since the given date, changed filter would allow you to query data between two specific timestamps. Alternative to the “changed” filter, you can run two “newer” queries and compare the differences.

Alternatively, Osmium would also allow you to query data for certain time intervals.

  • On Tasking Manager, when I click to map the task, the task area is not automatically downloaded in JOSM.

Based on my experience related with similar errors I can suggest you check the following issues: Is JOSM up-to-date? Sometimes you might be using an outdated version of the software. If that’s the case, update to the latest version and see if it’s working properly. Alternatively, remote control settings might have changed at one point during updating. So I suggest going through the remote control settings and make sure it’s configured properly. It might be related to your settings on the Tasking Manager as well, please go to your profile settings and make sure the preferred editor is JOSM on your profile. And sometimes the project managers in Tasking Manager might specify a default editor for the project. That might also be the case. So this time, before clicking map the task, you should go on and select the editor as JOSM manually. And I should have asked this first, and it is analogous to asking “Is it plugged? Is the power on?”. But you need to also make sure that you open JOSM first. The remote control function will work if JOSM is opened and active in the background. I hope one of these suggestions would be a helpful remark to address your issue.

Looking forward to next week’s discussion topics already.

Happy mapping.

Location: Küçükyalı Merkez Mahallesi, Maltepe, Istanbul, Marmara Region, 34840, Turkey

Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific Help Desk Recap and Other Updates - #1

Posted by unen on 15 March 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 16 March 2022.

What a week!

I have conducted two OSM Help Desk sessions as announced, on February 28 and March 2 where I was able to meet and discuss with a total of five different OSM contributors about the issues troubling them. From the discussion topics and the feedback from the attendees I can say that it was a fruitful conversation for all involved. I want to thank all who attended for the friendly environment.

The OSM Help Desk had to enter a small hiatus just after it had started due to my unavailability because of the in-person meet-up of the Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific team in Pokhara and Kathmandu last week. It was a completely different experience, and it was great to meet with the actively engaging student communities of the geomatics engineering departments of Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University Western Regional College. You can follow what happened (and what’s more to happen) via the Hub’s accounts via Twitter and Facebook.

Discussion Topics:

  • How can I be a HOT Validator? Is filling a Google Form enough?

In order to become a part of the global validator team, one should be an experienced and active OSM contributor (account older than 6 months and OSM activity within the past 12 months) with experience on editing on JOSM and Tasking Manager. There people then are required to take the validation training . Then depending on the quality of both edits and validation, the contributor can be a part of the validator trainee or the global validator team. You can learn about how to become a validator via here. It is also strongly recommended that you enroll and complete the HOT Validation course within the activation training available via HOT Training Center.

  • What are the points around the frame of FieldPapers atlases?

The QR code and the points around the map frame of FieldPapers atlases are acting as links to the online atlas you’ve created. The QR Code contains the URL for your atlas page, to help identification of the atlas while uploading scanned field notes. The points are acting as reference points to help FieldPapers to accurately display your scanned and upload atlasses as basemaps, accounting for the correction of image and shape deformations which might occur during scanning. For more info about FieldPapers, please refer to the wiki.

  • Can I use RapiD in JOSM?

Yes, you can add the MapWthAI plugin in JOSM and use AI-assisted mapping in JOSM, too. When run, MapWithAI plugin downloads the AI-generated missing road segments to JOSM as a separate layer. You’ll then need to inspect and verify individual road segments to be added to OSM on the MapWithAI data layer and select the individual segments you want to add to the OSM database. When you select “Add Selected Data”, the selected road segments are added to the main data layer. It is recommended to check and adjust the tagging if necessary, and run a validation check before uploading. You can read more about how to use the MapWithAI plugin here.

  • What are the available imagery sources in OSM?

While may not be completely accurate and up-to-date, potential imagery sources are listed in the OSM wiki. It is a good rule of thumb to use only the imagery layers available in OSM editors by default, if you are not sure about the licensing terms of the imagery you want to use. There may be other regional imagery sets available for OSM editing, most included on the link above, which you can add manually. Alternatively, you can use your own imagery for OSM editing:

Before Closing

Have similar questions? Want to chat about certain OSM-related issues over a coffee? Please go ahead and book a slot for the next available Help Desk session via this link. Mondays 09:00 UTC, Wednesdays 06:00 UTC, online.

Also, a bit short notice, but feel free to join the UNVT Online Workshop on March 16 to learn about the United Nations Vector Tile Toolkit with us. More related events and workshops to follow.

Location: Küçükyalı Merkez Mahallesi, Maltepe, Istanbul, Marmara Region, 34840, Türkiye

Personal Stuff and Announcement of Asia Pacific OSM Help Desk

Posted by unen on 26 February 2022 in English (English). Last updated on 13 March 2022.

Hello OSM World,

I have written to my diary once before, complaining to you about the new geospatial data law passed in Turkey in early 2020, which had potential effects and implications regarding OpenStreetMap as well. We are still uncertain on how the law will affect open geospatial mapping in Turkey since it is still not in full effect after two years with numerous uncertainties in practice. Anyway, the reason why I’m taking on writing is different and is both in a personal and an international level.

It’s exciting times for me in my OpenStreetMap journey. An interest next to my academic research, and a side quest compared to my day job in 2012 has slowly and steadily became the centerpiece of my life and I’m transitioning into a working setting where I’ll be able to dedicate my time entirely on OpenStreetMap development. And I am very lucky now to be a part of one of the most active and enthusiastic teams, Open Mapping Hub Asia-Pacific, supported by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team as the OpenStreetMap Trainer for the region.

Kicking off this week following 2022’s first Map and Chat Hour, on February 28, Monday 09:00 UTC and on March 2, Wednesday 06:00 UTC I am starting conducting the Asia-Pacific OSM Help Desk on a weekly basis. At the Help Desk sessions, we invite OSM contributors to have more targeted discussions about their OSM learning journeys and to provide a discussion space to tackle more specific issues they cannot ask during other events or group training sessions they had attended.

Unless explicitly specified, I will be online at the designated time slots to:

  • Troubleshoot any issues the contributors might have following mapathons & trainings,
  • Suggest a learning path of tools & resources to ones who are interested in particular aspects of the OSM/open mapping ecosystem,
  • Identify the needs of individuals and communities for upcoming focused trainings and workshops (TBA).

At the end of each week, I am planning to share a new diary entry which will summarize the discussion topics and their solutions for that week.

I don’t claim to know everything regarding OpenStreetMap; I am still learning new things and stumbling across amazing tools and methods as I dig deeper. But I am willing to support you on your pain points and roadblocks on your OpenStreetMap journey if I am familiar and experienced on that subject. If not, I will be more than happy to learn that with you, trying to find the right places to look at together.

So feel free to book an appointment from this link for the Asia-Pacific OSM Help Desk sessions every Monday (09:00 UTC) and Wednesday (06:00 UTC). I will share the meeting link for the first upcoming session based on your selected day on Fridays. Please remember that you will receive invitation to only one session, and you will need to book a new appointment through the same link if you want to attend another session with newer questions. Thank you for your understanding on that. I will also make sure to check if there are new appointment requests on Monday and Wednesday mornings to avoid any inconvenience.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Please stay tuned for my weekly updates. And maybe follow the exciting stuff going on at the Hub via Twitter and Facebook.

Sad day for VGI in Turkey

Posted by unen on 3 February 2020 in English (English).

This past week, on January 30, members of the Turkish parliament voted in favour of the proposed amendment to the National Geographic Information Systems law, regulating the acquisition, collection, dissemination and trading of spatial data.

With the law, the sole responsibility and authority on the national spatial data index is given to the Ministry of Environmental and Urban Affairs. Acquisition, collection, dissemination and trading of spatial data which is defined within the National Spatial Data Responsibility Matrix by third party individuals or legal entities are subject to prior approval of the ministry. Moreover, the approval will be subject to a fee of 25₺ for native, 50₺ for foreign parties per each 1/1000 plan corresponding to the study region(s) from the national topographical grid.

If not withdrawn or rephrased and applied in its full extent, the law will mean an end to volunteered geographic information in Turkey, and online non-profit data sources like OpenStreetMap.

The data layers which are included in the national spatial data responsibility list is as follows:

  1. Coordinate Reference Systems and Geographical Grid Systems
  2. Administrative Units
  3. Geographical Names
  4. Cadastre
  5. Buildings
  6. Addresses
  7. Elevation
  8. Orthophoto
  9. Transportation Networks
  10. Hydrography
  11. Geology
  12. Land Cover
  13. Land Use
  14. Soil Types
  15. Protection Areas
  16. Natural Risk Regions
  17. Infrastructure
  18. Energy Resources
  19. Mines
  20. Public Health and Safety
  21. Populaiton Demographics
  22. Environmental Monitoring Facilities
  23. Industrial Facilities
  24. Agricultural Facilities
  25. Public Administration Regions
  26. Flora and Fauna
  27. Habitat Zones
  28. Biogeographical Zones
  29. Sea and Saltwater Regions
  30. Atmospherical Data
  31. Meteorological Data
  32. NUTS Data
Location: Istanbul, Fatih, Istanbul, Marmara Region, 34126, Türkiye