Today I made my first Open Street Map edit. Open Street Map is a global map, created by its users (which includes lots of open government geographic data). My first edit was triggered by Peter Rukavina’s call to action. He wrote how he wants to add or correct Open Street Map data for a location when he mentions that location or business in his blogposts. He also calls upon others to do the same thing.

I don’t think I mention locations such as restaurants often or even at all in my blog, so it’s an easy enough promise for me to make. However, I did read and copy the steps Peter describes. First installing Alfred on my laptop. Alfred is a workflow assistant basically. I know Peter uses it a lot, and I looked at it before, and until now concluded that the Mac’s standard Spotlight interface and Hazel work well enough for me. But the use case he describes for quickly searching in a map through Alfred made sense to me: it’s a good way to make Open Street Map my default search option, and foregoing Google Maps. So I installed Alfred, and made a custom search to use Open Street Map (OSM).

The next step was seeing if there was something small I could do in OSM. Taking a look on the map around our house, I checked the description of the nearest restaurant and realised most meta-data (such as opening hours, cuisine, etc) were missing. I registered my account on OSM, and proceeded to add the info. As Peter mentions, such edits immediately get passed on to applications making use of OSM. One of those applications is a map layer showing restaurants that are currently open, and my added opening hours show up immediately:

My first edit also resulted in being contacted by a OSM community member, as they usually review the early edits any new user makes. It seems I inadvertently did something wrong regarding the address (OSM in the Netherlands makes use of the government data on addresses, BAG, and I entered an address by hand. As it came from a pick-up list I assumed it was sourced from the BAG, but apparently not). So that’s something to correct, after I find out how to do that.

[UPDATE: The fix was simple to do. The issue was that in the Netherlands the convention is to add meta data about stores to its corresponding address node (not as a separate node, unless there are more businesses at the same address). So the restaurant node I amended should not have been there. I copied all the attributes (tags) over to the address node, and then deleted the original node I edited. The information about the restaurant is now available from the address node itself. If you follow the link to the earlier node, you will now see it says that I deleted it.

I think it’s also great that within minutes of my original edit I had a message from a long time community member, Eggie. He welcomed me, pointed me to some resources on good practice and conventions, before providing some constructive criticism and nudge me in the right direction. Not by fixing what I did wrong, but by explaining why something needed improvement, and linking to where I could find out how to fix it myself, and saying if I had any questions to message him. After my correction I messaged him to check if everything was up to standard now which he acknowledged, ending with ‘happy mapping’. This is the type of welcoming and guidance that healthy communities provide. My Wikipedia experiences have been different I must say.
/UPDATE]

7 reactions on “My First Open Street Map Edit

  1. For 2019’s Q1 I want to do a ‘weekly hack’. There are many small odd jobs around the house, on my computer, our network, or in my workflows. They often are in my todo lists, but never get done, simply because they never have any urgency attached to them and so the rest of my life goes first. Yet they often do hinder me, and keep nagging to be resolved. Either that or they are the small wished for fixes (I really should have a page for X / I really should make a template for Y).
    So 12 ‘hacks’, fixes or odd jobs in Q1 2019 it is. If it becomes a habit after that it will mean doing some 4 dozen small things to make life easier per year. That’s a lot of things done incrementally over time. A first braindump gave me some 20 things to choose from (and the one I ended up doing first wasn’t even on that original list, but came to me later ).

    19#01 Create and use a template for the first read through and note taking of a non-fiction book.I made it in Tinderbox, which is an outliner plus mapping tool by Mark Bernstein. The template is mostly based on this WikiHow page on reading non-fiction, with some added questions (e.g. concerning assumptions made by the author)(the template in map and in outline view). For each book I copy that template. Each element in the outline/map is also a note which can have text, images etc. Tinderbox then lets you export the whole thing as a document, in this case the summary of my reading notes of a book. Which can then be blogged or published in other ways. [Category: workflow, habits]

    19#02 Do an edit in Open Street Map. For a long time open data consultant and activist, I actually do very little with data. My focus is on helping government entities change, so that their data becomes available routinely and at high quality. So, while Open Street Map (OSM) is a re-users of large amounts of Dutch open government data I never actually edited something in it. Peter’s suggestion this week triggered me to change that. [Category: learning]

  2. An interesting post from Ton Zilstra, on his first edit to Open Street Map, prompted me to do the same. I have two main motivations. One is that checkins on my stream use OSM and I like the idea of giving back. The bigger reason is that those checkins are often not very accurate, at least with respect to the place, rather than the pure location, and I thought it would be good to know how to add places even if they become visible only after the event. More generally, I want a better understanding of geographical information and how to use it.

    The whole process was as easy as Ton said it would be. For my first edit, I corrected a segment of a local road. OSM showed it as two-way. It is in fact one way, not that everyone pays attention. My second edit was like Ton’s; I added my local corner bar. I’ll have to go back and correct it when I have the correct street address.
    I think I could enjoy this.

    via jeremycherfas.net

  3. My Saturday afternoon activity yesterday in Greater Crapaud was seeking out the Tryon River Trail, a trail maintained by the Tryon & Area Historical Society that runs through the woods and along the salt marsh beside the Tryon River.

    The main trailhead is on Route № 10 before you go around the bend to the church, across the road from the Tryon Museum.

    Conditions weren’t the best for a hike yesterday, so I could only make it about halfway through the first trail segment before I had to double back to Samuel Holland Lane and walk up the road a bit to where the trail continues along the river on the other side. About 5 minutes into that stretch of the trail there’s a lovely bench in a sun-filled glade that was about the most peaceful place on Earth I’ve come across in a long while.

    I added the trail to OpenStreetMap, so it’s now available on Waymarked Trails should you like to seek it out one winter afternoon yourself; adding trails like this is another daily OpenStreetMap habit, like updating the hours of your local restaurant, that can be built into a blogging routine with positive spin-offs elsewhere.

    Trails | Prince Edward Island | Tryon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.