[OSM-dev] Roadnav moving to OSM data only: some questions...

Sascha Silbe sascha-ml-gis-osm-dev at silbe.org
Fri Aug 22 11:01:40 BST 2008

On Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 02:30:33AM -0400, Dustin Spicuzza wrote:

> Whats the best way to facilitate users downloading places by name, as 
> opposed to specifying coordinates?
The Namefinder can be used as a web service, i.e. it can output the 
results in some XML format. See [1] for details.

[Names and POIs]
> How do you go about searching for these items and downloading them, or 
> can they only be downloaded in the bulk downloads?
You can easily request single objects from the API. Since the Namefinder 
returns some location data, you might not need it anyway, though.

> Does OSM store street number data... ie, if I wanted to find the 
> coordinates for 123 Any St, does OSM support this?
We are starting to record house numbers, but search support for these is 
quite limited currently. I don't know of any implementation supporting 
house numbers that could use a planet dump (instead of just some small 
excerpt) on a regular computer.

> Zip/postal code support?
AFAIK also very limited. As I gather it, there are (at least in Germany 
and UK) no free sources for the post code polygons and we have a hard 
time generating them.
There has been some import from OpenGeoDB that contains post codes, but 
only on nodes. This could be used to differentiate locations in 
different parts of a country (so it's already quite useful), but not 
within a city. And yes, differentiating between streets with the same 
name in nearby locations is very important. We once drove to fetch a 
patient (luckily it wasn't an emergency), but there wasn't even a house 
at the given address. Turned out the doctor had named the wrong suburb 
(those two are directly adjoining, easy to get it wrong). Granted, in 
this case the name was wrong, not the post code, but you get the idea. 

> What about city/state/country boundaries? Is there a way to 
> search/download these via the API?
These are often incomplete or nonexistant, but we continue on improving 
them. :)
Especially for cities (and towns etc.) there's also some confusion on 
how to record what kind of border. The administrative one is hard to 
acquire (at least here in Germany), but for searching and routing other 
kinds are more important, namely the area covering all lots belonging to 
that city address-wise and the area defining speed etc. restrictions for 
vehicles. These three are mostly independent and there's commonly no 
consensus with regard to how to tag each of it. Some do it this way, 
others that way.

As for an API to work with OSM data, there are some Perl modules in SVN. 
Don't know what these do, though, since I tend to go to quite some 
extent to avoid some languages (namely PHP, Perl and Java).

[1] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/index.php/Namefinder

CU Sascha

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