Visit to the National Library of Scotland

posted in: Observations | 0

Last October I had the pleasure of visiting the National Library of Scotland. I was up in Edinburgh at State of the Map Scotland and couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to have a guided tour of the library’s maps reading room. Our host, Chris Fleet, had laid out a number of fantastic items from their collection – each with it’s own story.

Being a bit of a map geek I took way too many photos during the hour or so we had before closure. Here are some of the best to whet your appetite. The NLS are long term supporters of OpenStreetMap, have scanned and georeferenced many thousands of maps, and host zoomable maps on their amazing website. If you find yourself in Edinburgh, be sure to check out their collection.

Russian military maps (read all about these secret cold war maps).
Russian military maps (link: secret cold war maps).
Textured maps for the blind and partially sighted.
Textured maps for the blind and partially sighted.
The Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654 (view online)
The Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654 (view online)
Precision tools of the map maker.
Precision tools of the map maker.
Map corrections: tracing paper and sticky tape!
Map corrections: tracing paper and sticky tape!
A map of WW1 trench positions in Belgium.
A map of WW1 trench positions in Belgium.
Now you see it, now you don't. Early day 'airbrusing' to remove an airfield from aerial photos.
Now you see it, now you don’t. Early day ‘airbrusing’ to remove an airfield from aerial photos.

End of our JOSM paint styles

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Several years ago we created JOSM paint styles to help with the task of mapping gritting routes. The styles made it easier to identify which roads had the gritting tag.

The recent versions of JOSM have changed the requirements of these style plugins therefore breaking our code. If you still use the style you will see the following message that gives the reasoning and how to fix the problem. The style plugin would need to be updated to the latest MapCCS code.


This applies to both our josm-style.xml and josm-preset.xml code. Currently we have no plans to update these style plugins to the latest MapCCS code, however we welcome support from others to complete this update. If someone can come forward we will upload the new code so the functionality continues to work. For now, to prevent the warning message popping up each time you start JOSM, simply go to “View -> Map paint styles -> Map paint preferences” and delete “Winter Gritting” and “Winter Gritting2”.

We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

Becoming mobile: MAPS.ME and Geopedia

posted in: Map Improvements, Participate | 0

Back in June of last year we shared with you Richard Fairhurst’s State of the Map US talk in which he set out the case for more mobile OpenStreetMap apps. One of the key message was that “we need to think about smartphone editors” as a way to continue growing OpenStreetMap. This month we got a new mobile editor and a new app to help you explore your surroundings.

Firstly the new editor. This comes in the form of an update to the popular MAPS.ME. Even before this update MAPS.ME was a essential app for any OpenStreetMapper. It provides a simple to use offline map with voice over guidance for travel directions by car or on foot. It’s interface is simple and effective: for example, clicking on a map feature brings up a slider at the bottom of the screen providing more information.

On April 5th 2016, MAPS.ME developer Ilya Zverev explained how you can now edit the map information direct from the app. This is perfect for adding addresses, phone numbers and opening hours to existing map features whilst out and about.

Editing OpenStreetMap with Maps.Me
Editing OpenStreetMap with MAPS.ME

With more than 7 million monthly active users MAPS.ME is aiming to be the number one OpenStreetMap editor. Although OpenStreetMap’s editor usage stats are a little out of date, it’s already clear that MAPS.ME is the most used mobile editor measured by number of users.

The second addition to mobile comes in the form of Geopedia. This is a neat little app that takes the OpenStreetMap base map and overlays the wikipedia database. Clicking on the map shows you all the nearby features that have a wikipedia article (we understand this is based on wikipedia’s latitude/longitude data rather than the wikipedia tag stored within OpenStreetMap).

Searching for nearby attractions with geopedia.
Searching for nearby attractions with geopedia.

As this links to wikipedia you can view the articles in multiple languages and view an image if one is available. It works well to find new and exciting places to explore in your neighbourhood, or whilst away travelling. And of course you can use it as a prompt to add text and photos to wikipedia, and map details to OpenStreetMap – perhaps via MAPS.ME!

“Night School” status report

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Yesterday the mapping community in the UK held an online “Night School” mapathon to hep map schools. So how did we get on?

We did it! Yesterday we set the record for the highest number of edits to amenity=school features in the UK. Between us we edited 405 schools beating our previous high from 18th January.

Looking at the detail we created 202 new school polygons (a 33% increase on our previous daily best) and modified 191 ways. The other edits (12) were to nodes.

We are now at 75.5% of all UK schools mapped as ways (according to Robert W’s fantastic progress tool). This is up from just 62.8% when we started this task at the start of January. All but 10 postcode areas are above 50% complete. When we started there was 30 below 50% (8 below 40%). At the top end we have 24 postcode areas 95+ percent complete. Compared to zero when we started!

A total of 38 people edited during the day – again, another record! And the edits of those who used the #OSMschools comment in their changesets can been seen here.

Thanks for the amazing effort today. I hope the MapRoulette task is proving popular and will encourage more edits in the least loved parts of the UK OSM map.

Welcome to Night School (1st March)

posted in: Mapping Party, Participate | 0

This quarter the UK OpenStreetMap community is mapping schools. So far over 250 people have made 10,000 edits – a hugely impressive feat! There’s still time to get involved and on Tuesday 1st March we are holding “Night School”, an online mapathon.

Night School is experiment for the UK Quarterly Project; on the evening of Tuesday 1st March let’s join together as one big community to map schools. There are no rules, simply start when you like and finish when you like and map where you like! Follow along with the progress on the school edit tracker and our live map of edits (to show up on the map simply add “#OSMschools” to the comment box when you save your map edit).

Birmingham Business School, at night. CC-BY-SA
Birmingham Business School, at night. CC-BY-SA

If you don’t know how to map schools in OpenStreetMap check out our handy picture tutorial. You can always contact us for more support should you need it.

Ideas for making the evening more fun are welcome! Don’t forget the discussions on Schools Quarterly Project that are taking place here on Loomio as a trial for a possible platform for UK member decision-making.

Even at this stage of the project new people are joining, so spread the word on other channels to see who we might attract.

Schools project: When we map

posted in: Observations, Participate | 0

In order to assist a conversation on Loomio about when to hold a “Night School” mapathon, I took a look at when mappers are most involved in the quarterly project to map schools. Data is based on Harry Wood’s School Edits website.

Starting with average number of mappers per day we see that Wednesday leads, whilst Friday and Saturday have the lowest number of mappers. Nothing unusual here then!


Although Monday has fewer mappers, in terms of total edits it is still up there with Tuesday and Wednesday.WhenMap_Day2

If we look at the time of day we find that 19:00 is the best hour for mappers.


How to map a school in OpenStreetMap

posted in: Participate | 2

During the first quarter of 2016, the UK OpenStreetMap community are helping each other to map schools. If you have never mapped anything in OpenStreetMap before then here is a really simple picture guide to get you started.

Step 1: Find a school to map

The first step is to find a missing school. Head over to the dedicated “OSM School Progress by Postcode Area” website and click on the map to pick a region. The blue circles on the map are schools from the official lists that haven’t been matched to anything already in OpenStreetMap – that is, they are missing from OpenStreetMap. Click on one and then click on the postcode in the pop-up.

Pick a school to map. The blue circles show missing schools.
Pick a school to map. The blue circles show missing schools.


Step 2: Open iD editor

When you click on the schools postcode it will take you to the same place in the map in OpenStreetMap. To start editing the map click “Edit with iD (in-browser editor)” as shown below. If you have not already signed in to OpenStreetMap go ahead and do so, or register as a new user.

Select "Edit in iD" to get open the map editor.
Select “Edit in iD” to get open the map editor.


Step 3: Click “Area”

The first time the iD editor opens you will be offered a walkthrough tutorial to mapping. We highly recommend you follow this. If it doesn’t appear press H to bring up the help dialogue where you can start the walkthrough.

After the walkthrough zoom and move the map to the area of the school. The background imagery can be used to help you locate the school – they are usually easy to identify but if in doubt skip this school and pick another one.

Click on “Area”.

Zoom in on the school and click "Area" to start adding an area around the school boundary.
Zoom in on the school and click “Area” to start adding an area around the school boundary.


Step 4: Draw around the school

The aim here is to draw around the school boundary including any playing fields and surrounding grounds. Start by clicking in one corner of the school grounds and then continue around the school grounds clicking in each corner to form an area. Tip: If you click and hold the mouse button down you can drag the map.

When you get to the last corner, click it again to finish the area.

Draw around the school grounds, clicking the last point twice to finish tracing the area.
Draw around the school grounds, clicking the last point twice to finish tracing the area.


Step 5: Mark the area as a School Grounds

With the area traced we now need to tell the iD editor that this is a school grounds. Under “select feature type” click in the search box and type “school”. Click on the School Grounds option in the list below.

Select "School Grounds" as the feature type.
Select “School Grounds” as the feature type.


Step 6: Add the school name

In the school grounds detail box add the schools name and any other info you may have, for example the address.

Add the school name.
Add the school name.


Step 7: Save with a comment

Finally select “Save”. Add a comment in the dialogue box and press Save. Here I have type “Added St Marie’s Catholic Primary School #OSMSchools”. The #OSMSchools enables us to see how many people are contributing to the quarterly project to map schools.

Save your edit with a comment.
Save your edit with a comment.


Congratulations! You have added a school to OpenStreetMap. How easy was that!


Optional extras: Add more details

You may want to add more detail to the map such as the school buildings, playing fields, and so on. Here I have followed a very similar set of steps as above to add the school buildings and a service road.

If you get stuck and need any help feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help out!

Optionally add more detail following similar steps as above.
Optionally add more detail following similar steps as above.

Who’s involved? Edits to OpenStreetMap

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

We have many ways to follow the progress of the fifth quarterly project – schools. One such method is to look at the changesets that include the comment “‘#OSMSchools”. We can visualise these as a map, or in this case by a simple total of the changesets completed per user.

As the list has now grown to over 40 people, I am posting it here rather than on the wiki. There are of course other ways to see who is involved, including the school edit tracker provided by Harry. This counts edits to features tagged “amenity=school” therefore getting round the problem of needing to include #OSMSchools in the changeset comment. Where a changeset can include any number of school edits, Harry’s tool counts each on individually.

Please continue to use #OSMSchools in your changeset comments. I will update the wiki to link to this post and to retain user comments (e.g. where you are mapping, how you are helping).

Username Changesets
brianboru 277
ecatmur 276
EdLoach 191
lsces 165
Hobgoblin 164
southglos 159
RAC_UK 111
bogzab 110
Yorvik Prestigitator 84
sdoerr 81
Gregory Williams 77
Mark_S 57
LollyMay 53
SpillerC 50
Fledge 48
ACM 45
trigpoint 44
blackadder 40
Portree Kid 36
lakedistrict 30
DaveF 29
GinaroZ 29
sjreynolds143 29
robbieonsea 19
Jez Nicholson 13
RobJN 13
SK53 12
will_p 8
LivingWithDragons 6
The Maarssen Mapper 6
Tom Chance 6
RAytoun 4
seumas 4
BCNorwich 2
Chris Fleming 2
JonS 2
jpsa 2
mcld 2
fitzsimons 1
ndm 1
Richard 1
Total Result 2289

UK mapping hot-spots

posted in: Observations, Participate | 1

It’s been a month since we started our fifth quarterly project, so let’s look at where the engaged OpenStreetMap contributors are editing. Read on to find out where the mapping hot-spots are and where we have missing map locations.

Each quarter year we pick a different task to work on. The fifth is all about schools and has (by a long way) been our most successful. Let’s therefore use it to get an idea of where the engaged OpenStreetMap community is. By “engaged” I mean, where are the UK OpenStreetMappers who follow the community channels – such as the talk-gb mailing list and twitter accounts like ours – and join in with group mapping efforts.

Lets look at the results. Data comes from the school edit tracker.

Map of the OpenStreetMap community engaged in the quarterly project to map schools.
Map of the OpenStreetMap community engaged in the quarterly project to map schools.

As you’d expect most edits are focused on large towns and cities. Here we have a larger population from which to attract engaged mappers, and of course there are more schools to map without having to travel so far. Large cities don’t always equate to lots of mappers though. Manchester and Liverpool are lagging behind; a trait we also saw during our first quarterly project (note: edits in the OL postcode region are my remote edits).

The cities that are most engaged also tend to be those with OpenStreetMap communities that meet regularly.

Perhaps big urban areas seem to daunting to an individual mapper! What we see is that the cities and  larger towns that are most engaged also tend to be those with OpenStreetMap communities that meet in person regularly. These include Birmingham (this group), London, Nottingham and the central belt of Scotland. Perhaps the active mappers in Blackpool and Bradford could see if there is any interest in setting up a local community focused along the Mersey!

Other areas that are doing well are Cheshire, East Anglia, the South East and along the River Severn. Within the more rural areas Yorkshire is doing well (mapping is across the county not just in the larger urban areas) and as previously noted the Outer Hebrides and Shetland Islands.

Cardiff is another example of a city that is missing mappers. As are most of Wales and the South West, much of which is rural. They are joined by the region sandwiched between the Lake District and Edinburgh.

Finally, Ireland’s mappers are focused on mapping Townlands, but nevertheless they’ve found time to map a few schools in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mapped: Every school in the Outer Hebrides and Shetland Islands!

posted in: Map Improvements, Participate | 1

Progress on our fifth OpenStreetMap quarterly project – schools continues to delight. Today we congratulate the HS (Outer Hebrides) and ZE (Shetland Islands) postcodes for becoming the first to reach 100% completeness!

Not even a month in to the latest UK Quarterly Projects and there has already been so much to celebrate. Here are the highlights from the third update on our project to map Schools.

1. HS and ZE are 100% complete!
Yes you read it right! Mapping of schools in the HS (Outer Hebrides) and ZE (Shetland Islands) postcodes are complete thanks to the efforts of OpenStreetMapper seumas. This means that all schools are mapped as a land area at minimum. We continue to add detail (e.g. buildings, sports pitches and paths) to further improve the mapping of the schools. Many other postcodes (most with more schools within them 😉 ) are close to 100% complete now too. Follow the progress here.

Sir E Scott School in in the Outer Hebrides. Image courtesy of Urban Realm.
Sir E Scott School on Tarbert in the Outer Hebrides. Image courtesy of Urban Realm.

2. Open Data Manchester
Following a tweet Open Data Manchester have asked whether anyone can go and show them how to map. Looks like their next meeting is Monday February 1st, 6.30 – 8.30pm. Any volunteers?

3. 175 people have done 5351 edits
Amazing numbers measured by Harry’s tracker. Looks like Uganda has joined the project too. It would be great if  someone could turn the CSV linked data at the bottom of the tracker into a daily chart. Drop us a comment below if you are able to help.

4. Nodes converted to ways
Following lot’s of data clean up we are nearing 80% of schools mapped as land areas rather than simple points. We should hit this in the next couple of days.

5. Northern Ireland still needs some work
If you map in Northern Ireland and want to get involved please do. Each extra school mapped there will help lift it off the bottom of the tracker. We can also look at doing some initiatives in NI if the local community want this. Let us know 🙂

Interested in mapping schools in your area? To join us see here. Never mapped before? No worries, contact us for a helping hand.

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