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

Peter Miller peter.miller at itoworld.com
Thu Feb 3 11:04:39 GMT 2011

I am listening to the feedback. Lets look that this from my perspective.

I have spent a lot of time filling out Suffolk with data from the OS.This
started in Ipswich with using the ITO compare tiles to spot errors and
omissions in the town itself.

This started over Xmas I decided to experimented using Potlatch 2, OS Open
Data and Bing aerial to map a completely unmapped town (Lakenheath) to OSM
as far as I could without visting the place. It worked very well and I then
added Brandon and finished off Mildenhall. Did I remove anyone's work? No.
Did I overwrite anyone's street names? certainly not. I then did the same
for a bunch of smaller places across Suffolk that weren't mapped out

I then worked on the name discrepancies where OS Locator and OSM disagreed
to decide who was right. If OSM was right then I put the wrong spelling in
not:name; if OSM was wrong then I would correct the name in OSM. A couple of
us at ITO then did the same in parts of Cambs using the same method.

I have been tempted to do Thapston, Northants which I know reasonably well.
I could follow the same process as I have done above and it would take about
10 hours. I would prefer to run a bot of the town, add all the geometry from
os vector district, add new names from OS Locator and then do a clean-up
pass on discrepencies which would take half the time.

I look at Bradford and Leeds with 4,000 roads missing each and think - this
is not a good use of time. Some of the work has to be done by people, but it
can be speeded up considerably using tools to do the starting work.

Will this discourage mapping? I don't believe so - there will still be loads
of landuse and paths to add, it will just free people up to do that work
rather than repetitive jobs that a computer can do. By getting the UK
mapping up to a good basic standard then more people will start using it and
will thereby be encouraged to add more detail where they need it.

Am I proposing running it all over the country? Certainly not, it would be
used by a mapper as part of a longer process to fix up an area of interest
to them.

Fyi, ITO will soon have to give the OS £13,500 for another's years use of
their ITN dataset and then additional usage and printing fees during the
year. As such I really want to get to the point where we can say 'no



On 3 February 2011 10:38, Andy Allan <gravitystorm at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> way.
> 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.
> Cheers,
> Andy
> [1] Available for free from
> http://shop.opencyclemap.org/products/openstreetmap-promotional-leaflets
> [2] See what I did there?
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