[talk-au] J2ME Survey Assistant Application

Voon-Li Chung chungvl at gmail.com
Thu Apr 29 03:42:17 BST 2010

(Cross post from the users: Australia forum)

Hi all,

I've been really getting stuck into performing on-foot surveys of
areas where the street names are missing, and I was thinking about an
"easier" way of recording street name data. Walking papers is
fantastic (and I still use it to print out where I need to survey),
but I was looking for something less fiddly than writing names onto a
sheet of paper, as well as trying to enable people not living in an
area still being able to help with updating maps in an area.

Having written a few J2ME apps in my time, and some of these involving
Location Based Services (i.e. GPS), I thought I'd create one to help
record name and POI data. I guess you could say it's based on the
tourist guide principle ("if you look over there <point> you'll
see..."). That is, if you record the position, the direction and the
comment, others should be able to infer what you have surveyed. The
data entry process is quite simple:

1: Find an unnamed street or point of interest to comment on
2: Record point: enter the (compass) bearing and name of the street or
comments on the POI

When a point is recorded, the GPS coordinates, heading and comments
entered are saved onto the phone. At the end of the survey, choose
"Send" from the menu and all the stored data is sent to a server via
WWW/CGI. After that, it's relatively simple to render these points
using AJAX and OpenLayers. I've included a small screenshot from my
recent alpha test of the application at


(those of you from Perth will recognise that as the area adjacent to
Lord's Fitness Centre). As you can see, I've selected a data point
where I'm saying that the street heading directly north is called
Jasmine Avenue.

It's my hope that this application will be useful for the following reasons:

1: Not so much writing down of stuff in the field, meaning that people
running surveys don't have to carry around as much stuff.
2: Dissociates surveying from the actual editing of the map, meaning
that if you like walking around doing the surveys but aren't so keen
on the data entry, someone else could theoretically lend a hand by
using your survey data to update the maps. Same for vice-versa
(particularly our OSM friends overseas who physically can't reach the
Australian survey areas).

I figured I'd post to the Australian group, because of my involvement
in updating the Australian maps and the fact that thanks to nearmap
it's not (usually) the presence of the streets that are missing, but
the names (and this application is geared towards that situation).

There are some definite TODOs in here such as using a phone's on-board
compass (my phone doesn't have one on board, so I've been using an
orienteering compass) or coding for more popular platforms (Android

Anyway, so I was wondering if anyone out there:

1: Thinks my app would help the surveying effort?
2: Would be interested in helping test the phone app (J2ME phone with
on board GPS required - e.g. Nokia E71)?
3: Would be interested in helping test the idea that this information
would enable a third party to enter street name information, by trying
to use JOSM / Potlatch to enter in data provided by people from their
phones (I think this is quite important, as it's the main reason why
I'm motivated to do this)?

Thanks in advance,

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