[Talk-us] Address improvement through imports?

Ian Dees ian.dees at gmail.com
Wed Nov 2 22:44:21 GMT 2011

Hi Frederik,

On Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 5:12 PM, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> On Tue, 1 Nov 2011 17:14:03 -0600
> Martijn van Exel <m at rtijn.org> wrote:
> > But let's discuss: are
> > address imports useful (I say yes, for geocoding and routing they're
> > indispensable), necessary (I say yes, potential OSM data users will
> > want to be able to do these things) and feasible (I say yes, if
> > there's local mappers to oversee it)? Best,
> They are useful if you want OSM to be your quick fix to some itch you
> want to scratch. If you cannot be bothered to process the freely
> available hosue number datasets properly yourself but would rather
> abuse OSM as your free data processor where you dump in whatever you
> have and whoopsie, magically it becomes useful in MapQuest's Nominatim,
> then yeah, sure, go ahead, import until the shit comes out of
> everyone's ears - why learn from past mistakes. You probably think
> that OSM in the US is so broken, it cannot get worse no matter how
> much additional data sources you dump onto OSM. You know as well as I do
> that your "local mappers to oversee it" is a fig leaf!
> Importing more and more data will not make OSM strong. It might make
> OSM look useful in the short term but that's cheap usefulness - the
> same usefulness could be produced by just importing all your free
> sources into some other consolidated data set, something that is not
> unique to OSM, something that anyone can do at any time in their
> basement without the help of a crowd-sourced project. And for this
> cheap usefulness you are ruining the chances of there ever being a
> strong community - instead you'll have a few people acting as funnels
> for data dumped in from whatever sources. This is not the way to
> achieve a community that owns the map. And you know that and *still*
> you're happy to do it. OSM will never get anywhere in the States if
> people think like this. And that from someone who only just moved over!
I will line up right behind you and the "BAN IMPORTS" bus for just about
every kind of import other than this. I know what can go wrong with an
import (as I've screwed up several of them). I've convinced many people to
stop their importing ways. To a certain extent, I agree with you that in
some cases blasting an area with data from external makes the map look done
and discourages new mappers from adding new data.

However, I disagree when it comes to addressing. Adding address data to OSM
is extremely tedious. There's simply a whole lot of typing, clicking, mouse
movement, etc. involved in adding addressing data to OSM, not to mention
the time and money spent traveling to survey the data. The last US Census
counted roughly 170 million addressable households. That's not something
that can be crowdsourced in any reasonable amount of time. Sure, we could
spend a couple years continuing to grow the community (as has been
happening in metropolitan areas around the US), but even after we celebrate
our 10,000th US-based active editor we'd still have to convince every
single one of them to go survey 17,000 addresses.

I think it's reasonable to take a small bite out of that huge task by using
data that was previously "crowdsourced" (via taxpayer money) and ask as
many members of the current OSM community in the US to manually add the
data and verify it. I don't think that's an "import" in the sense of CanVec
or TIGER or NHD or coastlines. I think that's a computer-assisted manual
edit. The community is still involved. The community can still grow around
this new (and perhaps easier) task. We could draw in new mappers by showing
them a simple "move your address marker to your house" screen. It could be
a part of mapping parties.

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