Archive for the ‘Open Street Map’ Category

Your first steps with JOSM… [Mapping/Planning Disruption]

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Your first steps with JOSM – the Java OpenStreetMap editor by Ramya Ragupathy.

From the post:

OpenStreetMap’s web-based iD editor is the easiest and most convenient way to get started mapping. But there may come a time when you need more power – our mapping team uses the Java OpenStreetMap (JOSM) editor every day. JOSM allows you to map fast with keyboard shortcuts, a series of editing tools for common tasks and specialized plugins. Here is your guide to take your mapping skills to the next level.

I had to grin when I saw the advice:

Connect a two-button mouse to your computer to make working with JOSM easier.

At present I have an IBM trackpad keyboard, a Kensington Expert Mouse (roller ball) and a two-button scrolling mouse, all connected to the same box.

JOSM is probably too much for me to master for a mapping/planning disruption project I have underway but it is high on my next to master list.

Of course, you should avoid updating a public map with your planned disruption points, unless even with notice your disruption cannot be prevented.


John Snow, and OpenStreetMap

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

John Snow, and OpenStreetMap by Arthur Charpentier.

From the post:


While I was working for a training on data visualization, I wanted to get a nice visual for John Snow’s cholera dataset. This dataset can actually be found in a great package of famous historical datasets.

You know the story, right? Cholera epidemic in Soho, London, 1854. After Snow established that the Broad Street water pump was at the center of the outbreak, the Broad Street pump handle was removed.

But the story doesn’t end there, Wikipedia notes:

After the cholera epidemic had subsided, government officials replaced the Broad Street pump handle. They had responded only to the urgent threat posed to the population, and afterward they rejected Snow’s theory. To accept his proposal would have meant indirectly accepting the oral-fecal method transmission of disease, which was too unpleasant for most of the public to contemplate.

Government has been looking out for public opinion, not to say public health and well-being for quite some time.

Replicating the Snow analysis is important but it is even more important to realize that the equivalents of cholera are present in modern urban environments. Not cholera so often but street violence, bad drugs, high interest rate loans, food deserts, lack of child care, etc. are the modern equivalents of cholera.

What if a John Snow like mapping demonstrated that living in particular areas made you some N% more likely to spent X number of years in a state prison? Do you think that would affect the property values of housing owned by slum lords? Or impact the allocation for funds for schools and libraries?


Are crowdsourced maps the future of navigation? [Supplying Context?]

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Are crowdsourced maps the future of navigation? by Kevin Fitchard.

From the post:

Given the craziness of the first two weeks in September in the tech world an interesting hire that should have gotten more attention slipped largely through the cracks. Steve Coast, founder of the OpenStreetMap project, has joined Telenav, signaling a big move by the navigation outfit toward crowdsourced mapping.

OpenStreetMap is the Wikipedia of mapping. OSM’s dedicated community of 1.3 million editors have gathered GPS data while driving, biking and walking the streets of the world to build a map from the ground up. They’ve even gone so far as to mark objects that exist on few other digital maps, from trees to park benches. That map was then offered up free to all comers.

Great story about mapping, crowd sourcing, etc., but it also has this gem:

For all of its strengths, OSM primarily has been a display map filled with an enormous amount of detail — Coast said editors will spend hours placing individual trees on boulevards. Many editors often don’t want to do the grunt work that makes maps truly useful for navigation, like filling in address data or labeling which turns are allowed at an intersection. (emphasis added)

Sam Hunting has argued for years that hobbyists, sports fans, etc., are naturals for entering data into topic maps.

Well, assuming an authoring interface with a low enough learning curve.

I went to the OpenStreetMap project, discovered an error in Covington, GA (where I live), created an account, watched a short editing tutorial and completed my first edit in about ten (10) minutes. I refreshed my browser and the correction is in place.

Future edits/corrections should be on the order of less than two minutes.

Care to name a topic map authoring interface that easy to use?

Not an entirely fair question because the geographic map provided me with a lot of unspoken context.

For example, I did not create associations between my correction and the City of Covington, Newton County, Georgia, United States, Western Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, or fill in types or roles for all those associations. Or remove any of the associations, types or roles that were linked to the incorrect information.

Baseball fans are reported to be fairly fanatical. But can you imagine any fan starting a topic map of baseball from scratch? I didn’t think so either. But on the other hand, what if there was an interface styled in a traditional play by play format, that allowed fans to capture games in progress? And as the game progresses, the associations and calculations on those associations (stats) are updated.

All the fan is doing is entering familiar information, allowing the topic map engine to worry about types, associations, etc.

Is that the difficulty with semantic technology interfaces?

That we require users to do more than enter the last semantic mile?

OpenStreetMap Editor Designed by MapBox Goes Live

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

OpenStreetMap Editor Designed by MapBox Goes Live by Caitlin Dempsey.

From the post:

A new easy-to-use editor for OpenStreetMap has gone live. Called iD, the development of in-browser data editor was coordinated by MapBox and funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation. The Alpha version of iD was released in January of this year, but was only recently added as an option to the edit drop down menu on

From the announcement on the OpenStreetMap blog:

The new editor, codenamed ‘iD’, boasts an intuitive interface and clear walk-throughs that make editing much easier for new mappers. By lowering the barrier to contributions, we believe that more people can contribute their local knowledge to the map – the crucial factor that sets OSM apart from closed-source commercial maps.

You really need to see this to appreciate the ease of adding information to a map.


Foundation grants $575,000 for new OpenStreetMap tools

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Foundation grants $575,000 for new OpenStreetMap tools

From the post:

The Knight Foundation has awarded a $575,000 grant to Washington-DC-based data visualisation and mapping firm Development Seed to work on new tools for OpenStreetMap (OSM). The Knight Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting quality journalism, media innovation and engaging communities. The award is one of six made by the Knight Foundation as part of Knight News Challenge: Data.

The funding will be used by developers from MapBox, part of Development Seed that designs maps using OSM data, to create three new open source tools for the OSM project to “lower the threshold for first time contributors”, while also making data “easier to consume by providing a bandwidth optimised data delivery system”.

Topic maps with geographic data are a sub-set of topic maps over all but its an important use case. And it is easy for people to relate to a “map” that looks like a “map.” Takes less mental effort. (One of those “slow” thinking things.) 😉

Looking forward to more good things to come from OpenStreetMaps!

Open Street Map GPS users mapped

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Open Street Map GPS users mapped

From the post:

Open Street Map is the data source that keeps on giving. Most recently, the latest release has been a dump of GPS data from its contributors. These are the track files from Sat Nav systems which they users have sourced for the raw data behind OSM.

It’s a huge dataset: 55GB and 2.8bn items. And Guardian Datastore Flickr group user Steven Kay decided to try to visualise it.

This is the result – and it’s only an random sample of the whole. The heatmap shows a random sample of 1% of the points and their distribution, to show where GPS is used to upload data to OSM.

There are just short of 2.8 billion points, so the sample is nearly 28 million points. Red cells have the most points, blue cells have the fewest.

Great data set on its own but possibly the foundation for something even more interesting.

The intelligence types, who can’t analyze a small haystack effectively, want to build a bigger one: Building a Bigger Haystack.

Why not use GPS data such as this to create an “Intelligence Big Data Mining Test?” That is we assign significance to patterns in the data and see of the intelligence side can come up with the same answers. We can tell them what the answers are because they must still demonstrate how they got there, not just the answer.