New UK Quarterly Project (April-June)

New month, new quarter, new project.

Our first attempt at a quarterly project has just finished, where fixing road names was the target. I’m sure there was an uplift in the rate of clearing these up and a big thank you to everyone who took part, but we don’t have any formal metrics (perhaps ITOworld might do some analysis on comparable rates across quarters) and there’s still a way to go to clear the total number of mis-named roads. What is clear is that there’s not enough mappers on the ground to tackle something basic like this and we don’t have a scalable method for contacting existing and potential mappers.  I guess maintaining a  map isn’t as exciting as creating one! Anyway as we proceed with quarterly projects hopefully we’ll  evolve how to solve both problems.

Our goal with quarterly projects is obviously to improve the map in a co-ordinated way but also to try and develop the UK mapping community by reaching out to new audiences and to re-energise existing and lapsed mappers.

So, on to our next project: all things delivery-related

This could be Royal Mail postboxes (still loads to do); Royal Mail delivery offices and sorting offices; delivery areas/gates to factories and town centre shopping malls; maxheights and maxweights on roads; courier depots; distribution warehouses; new internet shopping parcel lockers (see wiki entry); there’s a new parcel-collection service based around mainline stations called; airfreight facilities; railway marshalling yards; secure lorry parks; port/dock facilities and anything else you can think of. All suggestions and stories welcome.

Dealing with OS Locator road name data: special cases

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This is a mini-tutorial presented as part of the UK Quarterly Project to fix road names.

There are occasions when along a long stretch of road the name changes several times. In the absence of a survey confirming that the local authority precisely defines where the name changes by placing road name signs adjacent to each other, you need some method of determining where the name changes. If you don’t have a helpful placement of road signs then a change in the house numbers is a good indication.

However, armchair mapping  can make use of the OS Locator data layer whilst editing. In the example shown, there is a stretch of road with 3 names. The geometry of the OS Locator blocks is a good indication of where the road name changes.

Long Roads in OS Locator

East Side (at the foot of the image above) shouldn’t be added because it’s already named something else in OSM and needs a ground survey, but it’s likely East Side is correct , given the nearby roads running from it, named South Side and North Side.

Hutton Bank and Rudby Bank can be named as OSM has no name for them. There’s a slight added complication that the road name seems to change in the middle of a bridge. So we can split the bridge and add the names up to where the OS Locator boxes indicate, not forgetting to add the tag source:name= OS_OpenData_Locator.

Result: one small improvement to OSM road name data.

There are occasions when the OS Locator data just throws up something that is unresolvable! Is this OS adding a sense of humour to its data? Were the staff just bored? Or is there really a road with no name called No Name Road? This has to be the special case of all special cases!

No name road

OpenCage Data Open Geo Interview

posted in: Participate | 0

OpenCage  Data have featured us in their long-running Open Geo interview series. You can read the interview here.

OpenCage Data is a division of Lokku. Founded in 2006 and based in London, Lokku are long time supporters of OSM – they’ve sponsored numerous State of the Map conferences, mapping parties, and made major donations to HOT-OSM and OSMF’s server drives. They also run #geomob, a meetup of London location based service devs. Opencage are best known for Nestoria, a  property search engine.

Data update for UK Quarterly Project: road name fixing

Now that Itoworld have resolved their technical problems we can see if the Road Name Quarterly Project is having an effect. Here are the top 20 local authorities from Itoworld’s OSM Analysis service:

Rank Area
Roads in
OS Locator
Road missing from
Missing Change
Last Day
Missing Change
Last Week
Missing Change
Last 30 Days
256 Manchester 6,941 152 97.74 0 -46 -46
369 Rochdale 3,666 164 95.44 0 -31 -31
267 South Staffordshire 2,092 47 97.56 0 -17 -18
355 Knowsley 2,268 82 95.72 0 -17 -17
273 Cannock Chase 1,514 36 97.42 0 -16 -16
122 Blaby 1,598 5 99.69 0 -13 -13
139 Bromsgrove 1,693 8 99.53 0 -9 -9
400 South Northamptonshire 1,581 63 94.81 0 -9 -9
214 City Of Nottingham 3,601 42 98.56 0 -8 -8
297 Bedford 2,213 48 96.93 0 -8 -17
105 Bournemouth 1,766 2 99.83 0 -6 -6
321 Lichfield 1,738 54 96.43 0 -6 -11
103 North Wiltshire 2,249 3 99.87 0 -5 -4
159 County Of Herefordshire 2,723 15 99.34 0 -5 -6
340 Daventry 1,625 62 96.06 0 -5 -5
3 South Gloucestershire 3,629 0 100.00 0 -4 -4
113 Ashford 1,893 4 99.79 0 -4 -4
142 Ellesmere Port And Neston 1,395 7 99.50 0 -4 -4
157 West Somerset 914 6 99.34 0 -4 -4
357 Horsham 2,167 81 95.71 0 -4 -4

Thanks to all the mappers who have participated, including those not in the top 20: if you’ve only got a couple of roads left to check you’ll never appear in the top 20 but your contribution is just as valuable.

Congratulations also to those who’ve got their local authority area to the 100% mark recently: Torfaen; Dover; Gwynedd; Powys; West Lothian; Wolverhampton; and South Gloucestershire.

It would be nice to personalise this but I don’t have the necessary skills to identify the users programmatically, or the time to do it manually. Maybe privacy concerns suggest it’s not a good idea but the whole idea behind a quarterly project is to build more community engagement and co-operation so we do need to get to know each other (especially those who aren’t veteran mappers or denizens of mailing lists and chatrooms)

Currently we don’t know whether our quarterly project experiment has incentivised people to go out and tackle this problem or whether it would have happened anyway. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Reaching a new audience in the UK

At our monthly mappa-mercia pub meeting we were chatting about new ways of encouraging participation in the current quarterly project to fix street names. It seems that there are people who both contribute Notes and comment on them who might not be on talk lists nor be aware of the OS Locator data which highlights name problems. So we thought that adding Notes about road names that need fixing on the standard OSM map, asking for confirmation of the correct name might elicit some response via a comment indicating the correct name. This could then be edited by a mapper.

Potentially, by using this method we would address a new audience who are prepared to add data occasionally but don’t want to be hard-core mappers.

This method would work best for situations where OSM and OS Locator have different road names.

We’d like to try this in an area with a high density of road name fixes and few active mappers. Liverpool, Rotherham and Manchester look to be likely candidates (258, 225 and 198 road name fixes respectively). If there are active mappers in these areas who don’t want this to happen please let us know soon and we’ll keep away. You could of course volunteer another area, either for us to pilot or to do it yourself.

If we don’t get a sufficient response to our Notes we would follow up with web searches for local community groups who have twitter or facebook accounts and ask for their participation via those media.

Fix that road name! Progress Report

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Well done to the folk in:

City of Leicester, Bradford, Darlington, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, Shetland Islands, Sheffield,  Berwick upon Tweed, Rutland and Guildford

You are our leaders in our first quarterly project.

How about Liverpool, Fife, Rotherham, and Manchester, all with over 200 road name errors, getting up amongst the leaders?

A challenge to anyone with coding skills:

Can we take the data on which ITOworld work, from where  the data shown above comes, to make it personal, so we can see who is doing the editing- similar to the daily “leader board” for Irish townlands?

We have corrected 247 road names in the last week. So if we continue at this rate we should have completed another 2,223 by the end of the quarter. Let’s see if we can build on this and make a bigger dent in the task. Otherwise we’ll still have another year and a half to complete it – and that’s without the OS Locator updates adding more corrections

Fix that road name! A brief tutorial on using OS Locator in JOSM

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Switching on the OS Locator imagery  in JOSM for missing/mismatched UK road names is a great way to see what needs to be done in any area when you’re editing. You can enable this in JOSM from Preferences, selecting the WMS/TMS button and scrolling down the list of imagery providers to the GB section and choosing OS OpenData Locator

You can then toggle between Bing Imagery and the view you’d see below

John Woodward Way Before

The green box indicates the extent of the missing road named John Woodward Way. Now that can be a good indicator of the extent of the road and if the Bing imagery is up-to-date then a toggle to that could confirm its layout. However in this case the Bing imagery is so heavily shaded that the road was not visible, even though  the building outlines were.

So a survey was necessary, but because of the adjacent pylon my GPS trace was rubbish so using the building outlines and some photographs I was able to insert the highway=residential tagged way,with name confirmed from the street sign.

John Woodward Way After

You’ll notice from the end result that I was able to improve the locality’s map by adding some addresses, traffic calming and remove a footpath which no longer exist, which is a great byproduct from fixing road names.  The rectangular box is a good fit to the actual layout: but you do need either good Bing imagery or a survey to confirm.

Fixthatroadname! reveals a surprise discovery

What makes contributing to OSM so enjoyable is the unexpected discoveries it throws at you. Today I went surveying in West Bromwich to resolve two OS Locator road name issues. Neither was in any remarkable and apart from adding a few addresses and POIs not very productive. In mitigation the weather was rather foul and not conducive either to writing notes or taking photos.

But once home and conducting some web research on the area I came across this Daily Mail article concerning the misnaming of a road named in honour of a local WWI hero, winner of the VC (Britain’s highest award for bravery).

The soldier’s name was Robert Edwin Phillips and the council had mistakenly named the road Edwin Phillips Drive . Rather than re-name the road correctly, mainly because residents objected according to the Daily Mail article, the council decided to add a supplementary plate reading ‘Commemorating West Bromwich-born Capt. Robert Edwin Phillips V.C., 1895-1968. Awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.’

Only three more names road names to resolve in Sandwell ( the council in whose area West Bromwich is located): I wonder what surprises are in store?

Surprise yourself – go out and survey some OS Locator name mismatches!


We’re trying to build the UK OSM community with Quarterly Projects – our first project is FIX THAT ROAD NAME.

If you’re new to all this then the first port of call should be the OS Locator wiki page.

It’s a good idea to have the OS Locator imagery layer ON during editing so you can see where there are errors as you edit. Advice on how to do this is on the OSM and OSL differences tileset page


1.Concentrate on areas you know well and can reach easily in case a survey of the road name is required

2.If an OSM road has a name that is different from the OS Locator name then it definitely should not be changed UNLESS you have definite local knowledge OR you have surveyed it.

3.If your name for the OSM road is different from OS Locator then once you’ve corrected or entered the name you need add the tag not:name= nnnnnnn where nnnnnn is EXACTLY the OS Locator name.

4.If an OSM road has no name but OS Locator has then you MAY add the OS Locator name AS LONG AS you add the tag source:name=OS_OpenData_Locator. This is because OS Locator often has an incorrect or mis-spelled name and this enables other editors at a later date to scan an area using this tag to further improve the data should this be the case. There is a division of opinion amongst veteran mappers about this: many hold that ONLY surveys are legitimate, but as long as you tag with source:name=OS_OpenData_Locator then this is acceptable as the vast majority of OS Locator names are correct.

There are some special cases which will be dealt with in a separate blog.

If you need help then either subscribe to the talk-gb mailing list. Instructions here

or email or phone your query to us using one of our contacts

And don’t forget – as you correct and add road names you’ll always find other things to improve!


Suggestion for OSM UK quarterly projects

At a recent pub meeting  mappa-mercia mappers felt that UK  OSM contributors are all busy on their own specific projects and apart from the occasional discussion on the talk-gb mailing list don’t really get together as a community. Compare that to the Irish community where there is a real drive on one large project to complete the mapping of townlands by 2016. There’s a real buzz about this with some fantastic tools and data visualisations, chat, problem solving, and  a great series of instructional videos. You feel a real part of a community if you participate.

So to try and rectify this we’re starting a campaign in the West Midlands, which we hope will be adopted by mappers all over the UK. Each campaign will last for 3 months – plenty of time to achieve something big,  work together as a community on a common goal, whilst leaving you time to work on your own projects alongside.

Task 1: Check that road name!

The first task is to add missing road/street names and to correct misspelled or misnamed roads. Reasoning? This is a basic geographic data requirement  for a map and we have some way to go in the UK to achieve completion.Until we complete this we’ll always lack credibility.

This task has been slowly ticking along but it’s currently both lonely and tedious. There’s a great opportunity to get out to some areas that haven’t been touched for some time;  come up with some new ideas to involve newer mappers, reactivate mappers who have ceased mapping, possibly even coordinating with housing developers to keep OSM right up to date. And more…. we’re looking for ideas and actions to reach out to develop a community here.

The latest release of OS Locator data gives everyone the opportunity to get out there and chase down the latest set of road name revisions. ITOworld’s OS Locator tracker shows us at 98.14% completion. There are 14,639 major issues and 2,125 minor issues (mostly involving the use of apostrophes). (You need to register to use this tool).

If we take the end of the quarterly project as  March 31st 2015 we need to correct 197 road names a day to achieve completion.  We’re so close, if we get enough momentum this is achievable. Even if we only double the current rate of completion that would be a big slice off the target and we’ll have started to build ourselves into a community that does things together.

Watch out for more blogs, posts and chat about this project. All ideas discussion and action welcome!