Fixing TIGER Alignment in JOSM

In the US, the foundation street data throughout most of the country is still in its original condition, imported from extensive (but sometimes low-quality) TIGER data from the US Census. Many of the streets need realignment to imagery. Martijn van Exel put together this quick video to help new JOSM users with techniques for fixing the roads, by aligning to recent satellite imagery, as well as using the updated TIGER 2012 data as reference.

Fast building footprints in JOSM

One of the neatest things to see on OpenStreetMap, something that truly makes the map look rich and detailed, are buildings. They add tons of context and visual presentation quality to the data. And used in conjunction with Pushpin in the field, the footprints become the “base” for adding other details like height, floors, addresses, and businesses. The trouble is, mass editing building footprints is pretty tedious, and lots of buildings are complex shapes that can be painstaking to trace.

This short guide shows a couple of tools you can use within JOSM to make tracing detailed buildings much more simple.

Once you have JOSM running, go to the Preferences → Plugins tab. You’ll need to install the BuildingsTools plugin to make the initial tracing faster than simply drawing ways. The building tool (keyboard shortcut: b) is instrumental in fast tracing, and using that in concert with the Extrude tool (shortcut: x) can ramp up speed in tracing.

This video shows how to use the extrusion tool to quickly and accurately extract these buildings:

With these tools, plus their corresponding keyboard shortcuts, you can make quick work of even intricately-shaped building outlines:

When drawing other polygonal, orthogonal shapes (for things like parks, landuse delineations, basketball courts, etc), I even use this same process, then just replace the building=yes tag with the appropriate attribution.

April OpenStreetMap Edit-a-thon

This coming weekend is the second OpenStreetMap edit-a-thon event for 2013, and mapping groups from areas all over the US are getting together to see how much US-based editing we can get done over the course of the weekend. The event runs Saturday and Sunday (April 20-21), but the OSM Tampa Bay group is meeting up on Saturday, April 20th at 12:30pm in Dunedin, FL to hang out and see how much editing we can do.

We’ll be meeting at the Broadway Deli in downtown Dunedin, and we plan on doing some mapping on the web, as well as walking around town doing some field mapping (weather-permitting). There’s plenty of work to be done on the map data in the Tampa area. Here are some things we’ll be looking at:

  • Using MapRoulette to make quick fixes to transport data (US-wide)
  • Improving buildings & points of interest in Dunedin, Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Pete
  • Correcting streets to fix routing, lane counts, speed limits, etc.
  • Field collection with Pushpin or other mobile apps
  • And more…

There are a number of folks coming out who are well-versed in OpenStreetMap, so come out even if you’ve never made an edit! We’ll be there to show you around the editing tools available, and how to make contributions to map features that interest you. Be sure to head over to the meetup page and RSVP if you want to come out!

State of the Map US

The 2013 edition of the State of the Map US conference was just announced, to be held in San Francisco on June 8th and 9th. I attended the conference in Portland, Oregon last year, and it was an great event. As it says on the site, the diverse and interesting group of enthusiasts that make it out to SotM is always incredible.

State of the Map US

If you’re interested in hearing a ton of fascinating ways people are working with and contributing to OpenStreetMap, it’s well worth the trip.

Next meetup: Becoming a JOSM power user

Learning the OSM editor stack can be complex to newcomers to OpenStreetMap, and even to people familiar with the project. Potlatch is where most new contributors start, since it’s the editor built into the OSM website, and accessible right in the browser. But it has limitations to doing extensive, mass editing.

JOSM editor

JOSM is the tool of choice for the power user, but it’s got quite the learning curve to getting comfortable with it. I’ve spent a good bit of time learning tons of tricks, like keyboard shortcuts, handy plugins, and techniques that make JOSM the best tool for heavy editing.

At next weekend’s meetup (Sunday, September 30, 11am), we’ll get together and talk about JOSM and how to get more comfortable editing with it. I plan to show some JOSM tips for doing things like:

  • Editing building footprints
  • Fixing and editing road geometry
  • POI editing
  • Land cover mapping
  • Creating and managing relations
  • Viewing edit history on objects
  • How filters make editing much easier

Bring questions, ideas, and stuff to chat about!

Mapping meetup in Downtown St. Pete

We’ve scheduled another meetup for next Saturday, May 19th. It’s been a while since our last real get-together back in December. Since then a few of us hopped onto another meeting that happened back in February at USF, organized by fellow OSMTB member Ed Hillsman. We had a good time over there, some of us just talked about OSM and messed around in JOSM, while others went out and surveyed some GPS tracks and collected data.

MapBox Streets St Pete

For this one, I thought we could get together and do some mapping in Potlatch or JOSM – if some folks want to do that – and we can walk the streets downtown and actually survey some new data, regroup back at JoJo’s, and add it into the map that way. It’d be a nice change of pace from the typical geek-out session, and I think we could get a pretty sizable amount of data in a pretty short time. And hopefully we’ll have nice weather for wandering around downtown.

Any other ideas are welcome, naturally! Hope to see you out there.

Improving OpenStreetMap

Tom MacWright started a good discussion on the wiki about next steps and approaches to make improvements to OSM.

OSM’s architecture is powerful, yet can be way too intimidating to invite less tech-savvy newcomers to contribute. This discussion puts some things on the table that the OSM community at large isn’t talking about enough.

OSM Tampa Bay at Ignite Spatial

My Ignite talk about the OSM Tampa Bay mapping group at WhereCampTB last weekend — and what we’re doing to grow and improve OpenStreetMap in the Bay Area.

Join us!

TIGER Reviewed, a custom OSM layer

TIGER reviewed layer

Ito World has created a tiled layer showing the status of the TIGER imported road data for the US on OpenStreetMap.

The layer shows roads that have been reviewed, not reviewed, and when they were last edited in the database. A surprising number of the major roads in the Tampa Bay area have been reviewed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the geometry has been corrected from the error-prone original – there’s still plenty of work to be done.

If you’re editing transportation network data on the map, remember to check out the latest TIGER import documentation on the wiki to get a feel for how the data is tagged. It’s a fantastic data resource, but needs a fair amount of help to get up to a high standard of quality for routing.


A good resource for pure beginners to OpenStreetMap.

Particularly useful to newcomers is the manual (PDF) put together by the Humanitarian OSM Team.