[Tagging] preproposal : internet webcam

nounours kuessemondtaeglich at gmail.com
Mon Dec 2 09:06:19 UTC 2013

Dear all,

sorry for my long silence, but I was away.

I seems that my opinion are minoritarian, but still I want make one last try to explain things clearly and then I will shut up on this subject.

1. Why is "man_made" bad
It's a very unclear category anyway.
If you have an historic interest, than you may find out that it was originally thought to map outstanding features in mainly natural environment - so from that perspective - man_made maybe makes sense for a "break-water" on a else natural cost, or an "adit" in a mountain region.

=> but never I seems logical to anybody to tag a CCT-cam in a restaurant with the tag "man_made".

Am 30.11.2013 um 18:41 schrieb Jonathan:

> Clearly, man_made has become a dumping ground for anything not natural that we can't be bothered to tag somewhere else!  
> Man_made probably needs clearing up and surveillance probably shouldn't be under it, however it is under it and none of that effects the question of webcams.
> Jonathan

+1 for cleaning up "man_made"!!!

2. Why surveillance cannot be the main tag, but it must be camera
"Camera" is what it is.
"Surveillance" is what you do - sometimes - with it.

You will not call a "car" "driver", because you drive with it. And then, call a bike "driver=rider", because you ride the bike, and you have to use the same tag because a car and a bike have both wheels ...

Am 30.11.2013 um 12:17 schrieb Jonathan:

> A camera recording a public space is performing surveillance over that space, be it a webcam, police cam, traffic cam or nature cam.  It's a camera.
> Jonathan

NON. The webcams we are talking about are not surveillance cams.

The intent of a device IS important. Not every camera is placed there in the intent you do surveillance. Webcams are generally placed exactly in a way NOT to show any persons (often also they are forced to do so by law).
You can argue that they do surveillance of the mountain they are showing, but believe me, the mountains very rarely move and do absolutely not care if they are watched by a ant or not.

I do not call a building having a coffee machine in it a "cafe", but I only call it this if I actually can go there and drink a coffee.

I completely agree on the importance of tagging "Surveillance cams". (I just mapped several pubs in my city with man_made=surveillance because they added surveillance cams, and I want people to stop going there). Civil rights are important, and I completely agree on fighting for them. But let's stop being ideologic and see only this.

Am 30.11.2013 um 15:39 schrieb John F. Eldredge:
> Internet-connected cameras aren't necessarily publicly-viewable. Access to the camera may require a password, or the video stream may be sent, encrypted, to some other point.

I do not think in the OSM context it matters what kind of technology is used. But we map identifiable features. Is there a camera, that I can see or that I can know that is there? => so it's a camera.

Is the camera a surveillance camera to watch people? => so it's surveillance.

Is it a camera that shows a picture of the scenery, of a mountain, of the weather and normally not people? => so it's a webcam. (a camera to inform people about weather and snow conditions, normally viewable on the world wide web, that's what the name comes from. So a internet connected surveillance cam does clearly not qualify for this.).

3. Making tagging locial or keep it as it was to make life simple for renderer?
* completely agree on not changing tags too often.
* But a renderer is much easier to adapt to new rules than the mind of thousands of mappers (especially if OSM is interested to have new people join in).
* Unlogical tagging leads to more of
     ** not mapping at all => this is what seems to happen with webcams, and is the primary reason why Egil started this whole discussion.
     ** people mapping how the like and so we get different mappings for the same thing => this is a nightmare, and more difficult to handle for renders than a well documented tagging change followed by a properly done mechanical edit.

Am 30.11.2013 um 12:17 schrieb Jonathan:
> I agree the man_made tag is ludicrous, but we're stuck with that for the time being, changing that is a whole other thread.

Ok, so let's define at least a "future architecture", and let's move to it step by step each time we work on a tag.

4. The initial idea was: give people a tag to properly tag webcams

Am 01.12.2013 um 15:18 schrieb Egil Hjelmeland:
> I did not initially want "man_made=surveillance", but I was met with strong opinions against splitting from "man_made=surveillance". 

So don't do it if you think it's wrong.

> But given 21 735 "man_made=surveillance" it is too late now.

It is never too late. This can be changed.

> I am not at all interested in spending months of my life arguing about an elaborate schemes for cameras. I will just Get It Done.

I completely understand. But I think it's important that OSM does not get a closed project which stays at it has always been. If historic tagging is difficult to grasp for newcomers, we should think about to adapt it.
AND more importantly, you started this whole discussion to get webcams mapped. We tagging you actually suggest, THIS WILL NOT BE DONE. Because people interested in webcams are often (take me as a counterexample but...) different people than the ones interested in mapping surveillance cams. And the will not like this what will seem a completely absurd tagging and they will not use it! So you will not gain anything.

On 11/30/2013 06:40 PM, Egil Hjelmeland wrote:
> So my revised suggestion to tag a webcam public on internet is
> man_made=surveillance
> surveillance= indoor|outdoor|public *
> surveillance:type=camera *
> surveillance:zone=weather|traffic|scenic *
> contact:webcam=<url>
> name=*
> operator=*
> description=*
> camera:direction= compass degrees *
> camera:angle = horizontal angle of view  *
> * means optional 

Sorry, this is nonsense. You're really giving up on your initial idea. And maybe it was stupid me you started the whole idea that a camera is camera. I apologize!!!

But you can not really ask somebody to tag a webcam taking a picture of a mountain to tag:


Nobody will understand this, nobody will tag this, and will vote against this.

5. The URL to the image

Am 01.12.2013 um 15:18 schrieb Egil Hjelmeland:
> Have a look at http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Proposed_features/Key:Surveillance

"contact:webcam=http:/...." ???? Do you really think this to be clear? Why so complicated? Do you really want to rely on a proposal made FIVE years ago and never accepted???? Key:Surveillance

Am 01.12.2013 um 01:35 schrieb Jonathan:

> I agree, contact doesn't make sense.
> webcam:url=http://...  is better

maybe better, but still much too complicated!

According to http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Map_Features, there is a established tag to give the webadresse connected to node

the tag "URL" is outdated. Why come back to this?

What is wrong using website=*? I agree there might be a confusion if you give the webadresse of the camera-provider or the image itself, but this can easily cleared up by documentation, and it does not really be interesting to give both address, the image URL normally being a sub-adress of the the operators website. And thinking about the man use of the webcam (a map with all webcams a can click and view the image), it seems very straightforward to tag the actual image address.

Therefore, I reiterate my suggestion:

camera=surveillance | webcam | trafficcam | ...

Since it seems that all surveillance cameras actually mapped are done so properly, so I do not see any obstacle to make a proper mechanical edit if the proposal of the new tagging and the proposal for the mechanical edit are accepted.

Or, if really people want to keep man_made=surveillance for nostalgic reasons, we should split up again and make:

camera=webcam | trafficcam | ...

and leave surveillance in peace ...

If there is anybody out there thinking like me, please stand up. If not, I will stop arguing and shut up.

Have a nice day,


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