A few months ago I posted about being aware of what of your surroundings you could reach within 60 or 90 minutes by car or public transport. Towards the end of that posting I posted a map of my reach from home for 60 and 90 minutes. It was a bit of work to find a service that could make such isochrone maps for me.

Today Open Street Map volunteer Rory pointed to CommuteTimeMap which provides isochrone maps for any location in the world, based on Open Street Map. That’s very cool.

Of course I immediately compared CommuteTimeMap with the maps I had made before. What I used before didn’t allow for doing this for public transport (just walking and cars iirc), and CommuteTimeMap does. However the underlying data about public transport may be incomplete (just buses perhaps), as the map for 60 mins of public transport shows a very limited range, where the actual range is more or less the full size of the image (Zwolle, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Apeldoorn, Ede all within range). Or it simply isn’t set up for multimodal transport, and it assumes I’d take public transport from the bus stop nearest to me, where in reality I would cycle the 7 minutes it takes to the nearest railway station. Taking the bus to the railway station would cost significantly more time.

my 60 min public transport range, according to OSM, more pessimistic than in reality

On the other hand, the map for my reach by car in 60 minutes seems a little bit optimistic, covering most of what on my previously made map is shown for 90 minutes of driving. In general it provides a similar contour though, and a lot more detail (such as excluding car free national parks).

my 60 min driving range, according to OSM

my 60 and 90 min driving range, according to what I previously used

I’m definitely using this from now on.

Liked Danke OpenStreetMap | Nur ein Blog (robertlender.info)
Denn auf dieser kleinen Insel hat sich jemand die Mühe gemacht, kleinste Wege einzuzeichnen. Dafür bin ich all den freiwilligen HelferInnen der OpenStreetMap immer wieder sehr dankbar.

Robert Lender thanks Open Street Map (OSM) and its volunteers for drawing in the small (foot)paths other maps usually miss (as they’re more car oriented), and recounts how he used it on a small Greek island he visited that most tourists don’t know about, where he could wander around all the smallest paths with the OSM app. “Therefore, thank you once again. Because I am not adding geodata to OSM, I at least donated something to the OpenStreetMap Foundation.” Great idea. [I tried to follow that example, by signing up as a member, but there’s a glitch with Paypal.]

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.

Some links I thought worth reading the past few days