[Imports] Importing Beirut building data

Majd Al-shihabi majd.al at gmail.com
Fri Apr 28 13:35:53 UTC 2017

Hi folks,

I have been working with an organisation called Public Works Studio to
create a map of housing evictions in Beirut over the past couple of years.
As a part of it, we need a good base map containing buildings in the city,
but unfortunately, OSM doesn't have that yet.

Through our network, we found out that a group at the American University
of Beirut called The Neighbourhood Initiative (AUB-NI) has done a survey of
all of the buildings in the city. The data can be viewed here
<https://scholarworks.aub.edu.lb/handle/10938/10283?show=full>. As far as I
understand (and of course i'm not a legal expert), the license on the data
from the AUB-NI is not incompatible with the Open Database License. In any
case, my understanding is that they got the data freely from the

Unfortunately, the Lebanon OSM mailing list has been inactive since 2012,
but at a recent HOT training, and through my work, I have met a few people
who are interested in activating the community again.

What we would like to do is to start importing all 20k+ building polygons
into OSM, but do that in a special way. We would like to run a series of
mapathons where people enter the buildings one by one. We would create a
simple tool with the following workflow:

   1. Display to the mapper a random building from the available 20k+
   2. Overlay the building on the mapbox satellite images (Mapbox is
   clearer than Bing)
   3. If
      - the building already exists in OSM, discard the new polygon (maybe
      we can avoid this option by doing some cleaning of the data using QGIS)
      - the building does not exist on OSM, and the polygon matches the
      satellite image, then add as many tags as we know, and upload it to OSM
      - the building does not exist on OSM, and the polygon does NOT match
      the satellite image, then modify the polygon so it matches, add as many
      tags as possible, then upload to OSM

This process serves an important function: to verify the accuracy of the
data from the AUB-NI, especially since the dataset is from 2004, and the
city has changed A LOT since that date.

>From a technical point of view, I can see three options to do this:
1. The simplest way is to find a way to pass the polygons to the iD editor
(through GET or POST parameters) and have it preselected for the user to
make any modifications to it.
2. Alternatively, we could build an interface that would save the polygon
to OSM *and then* ask the user to verify it.
3. Otherwise (and least desirable option) is to build an entire javascript
app that would implement the workflow.

I've done a bit of research and option 2 seems like it's the most feasible
one, but I'd like to hear some more thoughts from the community about this.

Many thanks for your advice, in advance :)

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