[Talk-us] [Imports] Addition of building footprints in selected U.S. and Canadian cities

Kate Chapman kate at maploser.com
Mon Apr 2 23:58:14 BST 2012

We did an imperfect import of building footprints in Washington D.C. a
while ago.  I personally find it makes the map far more usable for
adding other information. With the buildings in I am able to add
stores and other details easily without using a GPS, simply by
printing Walking Papers.

Personally for me I enjoy outlining buildings, but there are plenty of
other places without footprints where I could do that if I had the


On Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 9:18 AM, Richard Weait <richard at weait.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 11:46 AM, William Morris
> <wboykinm at geosprocket.com> wrote:
>> So here's something to mull over while we all wait for the license upgrade:
>> http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23616645/Geosprocket_Share/umd_subset.osm
>> That's an extract of the UVM-SAL building footprints I'd like to
>> import for swathes of MD and PA. My workflow for killing existing
>> feature conflicts actually went best without involving ESRI at all:
>> 1.) In QGIS, Set up 0.2-degree import grid over new building coverage areas
>> 2.) Pull down one grid cell worth of OSM data using the QGIS OSM plugin
>> 3.) Add building footprint .shp, select all footprints that intersect
>> OSM lines or polygons
>> 4.) Switch selection, save as new .shp
>> 5.) Run ogr2osm.py on new .shp (Special thanks to Andrew Guertin for
>> running me through that process)
>> 6.) Open new .osm file in JOSM, add building tags, upload.
>> 7.) Repeat for next import grid cell
>> Tedious, but it'll get the job done. And a reminder: I do not intend
>> to add any building footprint that conflicts with an existing feature,
>> adhering to the OSM preference for user-added features over imports.
>> Now soliciting thoughts, roadblocks, expressions of ennui, etc.
>> Thanks!
>> -Bill Morris
> My objection is a generic one and one that has been heard before on
> this channel.  To be clear, I do not wish to criticise Bill; he
> appears to be following the bulk edit guidelines and he is engaging in
> the discussions here.  That's fantastic.  Bill, welcome to the
> community.
> I think imports (taking a large number of objects from an external
> source and placing them in OSM all at once) is bad for the community.
> Most of you have heard me say this before.  I still have no hard
> evidence to prove it.  There is also no hard counter-evidence.  At
> best, imported data will be unmaintained.  I glibly offer most TIGER
> ways as evidence.
> I ask you to suspend disbelief for a moment, and presume that imports
> are generally bad, and presume that adding new mappers is generally
> good.
> Can we try something new?  Can we use this building data as motivation
> to get new mappers in those areas so that specific mappers will have a
> stronger connection to the data in specific areas?
> Something like this:
> - Let's set a smaller grid. Something like a large suburban arterial
> block, say 1.5km / 1 mi square.
> - If you want to import the buildings in one grid square, you have to
> find a new mapper in that area, and they have to do an on the ground
> survey of some part of that area.
> - You can only do so in areas that are no more than four grid squares
> from your home location (or work location).
> This is a cross between "adding game-features to OSM", "banning
> imports" and "having users adopt part of the map".  :-)
> This could be really beneficial to a new mapper.  They could survey
> the local fire station, police station, hospital and schools, and
> perhaps the businesses on the main street, and a few local shopping
> malls.  They get all of those business names, and they'll be
> completely up to date.  They'll add them to the map, and they don't
> have to trace as many building outlines, because they have the
> external source available.
> What I hope this will encourage is:
> - new mappers in those areas
> - who will do new foot surveys of interesting things
> - and will feel attached to the data
> - and keep it up to date over time.
> And, if the new mapper understands that the building data for their
> area is a "reward", they are unlikely to be frustrated or discouraged
> by it if some buildings end up in the wrong place.  the new mapper
> will just fix them.  And carry on mapping.
> I know that what I suggest is much harder than simply importing the
> data from one or two accounts.  I suggest that the benefit of finding
> and encouraging new mappers in your area is much greater than just
> having new building outlines in your area.
> Now the Negative Army will jump in and say, "That's too hard.", "That
> will never work.", "I want buildings now."
> You can take leadership on this.  Are you the only active mapper in
> your city or region, or one of only a few?  Do this.  Be a leader.
> Grow the community and then you won't be able to keep up with the
> growth of the map.  Build new contributors.  (And host local OSM
> groups.)
> Thanks for letting me hijack your thread, Bill.  :-)
> Best regards,
> Richard.
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