[Talk-GB] Adding a further 250, 000 UK roads quickly using a Bot?

Andy Allan gravitystorm at gmail.com
Thu Feb 3 10:38:26 GMT 2011

On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM, Peter Miller <peter.miller at itoworld.com> wrote:
> ITO have been offering a service to compare osm road names with os locator
> road names for a while now[1]  which has encouraged a lot of activity - and
> has even led to Andy to obsession.[2] I have also suffered from a bout of
> urgent mapping myself while completing all of Suffolk to 95% in the past few
> weeks! Can I suggest that for our sanity we should consider developing a bot
> to do some of this work for us? This would also allow us to get the rest of
> the 250,000 remaining roads in place in less than the 13 months Andy
> estimates will be required?

I'd rather you thought again, and I feel embarrassed that my blog post
has had such a radically different outcome that I was intending.

The ITO analysis is a useful healthcheck of the OSM community in
different areas, and a useful way to motivate mappers in partly-mapped
areas and encourage them to drive the quality of OSM higher in
well-mapped areas. For example, I normally go for a quick blast on my
bike in the morning, but this morning I took some detours and did some
mapping to investigate the discrepancies - collecting bike parking,
finding closed pubs and checking on building developments along the

If we take the healthcheck analogy, the equivalent solution to finding
high blood pressure would be a bot to go around letting blood - when
the better way of doing it is to encourage the patient to get some
exercise. That's similar to my intentions in this project - while we
could all sit at home blindly copying from OS data (or, worse still,
sit at home writing software to blindly copy from OS data, shudder),
we could instead be figuring out how to get more mappers, and motivate
more mappers, to go do some mapping. Completing the road network is a
by product of having a healthy mapping community.

So what I hoped would happen were that people would read my post,
spring up on this list and say things like:

"I know some sustrans rangers / scouts / guides in Powys and so I've
ordered them some promotional leaflets to get them interested" [1]
"I like your thinking in London, we're organising some pub meetups in
Inverclyde next month"
"I've found a list of libraries in my area and I'm running some
workshops in Bolton"
"I normally go for a quick blast on my bike in the morning, but this
morning I took some detours"[2]

I find the talk of bots disheartening, and it misses the key challenge
entirely - it's not hard to check a street sign, or transcribe
lettering between OS Locator and Potlatch2. It's hard to recruit,
motivate and retain mappers, and that's what we should be putting our
efforts in, for that's the proper measure of progress.


[1] Available for free from
[2] See what I did there?

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