[Talk-us] parcel boundaries and associated data in OSM

Brian Cavagnolo bcavagnolo at gmail.com
Thu Feb 14 20:32:15 GMT 2013

Ha.  Totally missed this very recent discussion on the matter:


Nonetheless, feel free to respond.  I'm going to go do some more homework ;-)


On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM, Brian Cavagnolo <bcavagnolo at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hey guys,
> In my research group (the Urban Analytics Lab at Berkeley's Department
> of City and Regional Planning), we use parcel data for land-use
> projection, accessibility, and visualization.  For example, over the
> past couple of years we worked with regional government agencies here
> in the Bay Area to put together a parcel-level urbansim
> (http://www.urbansim.org) land-use model for regional planning
> purposes.  We've also developed a prototype 3D visualization tool
> (http://www.urbansim.org/Documentation/UrbanVision) to visualize
> parcel data, and published on using OSM data for accessibility
> calculations [0].  If you poke around the Internet for references to
> our director Prof. Paul Waddell you'll get the idea.
> We really want a nationwide consolidated, standard parcel database to
> build upon.  Such products are available from numerous proprietary
> data vendors who make it their business to routinely gather and
> consolidate data from local government agencies around the country.
> Of course these are often expensive and have restrictions on
> redistribution.  Our federal government has been trying for sometime
> to create a nationwide public domain parcel database [1][2][3], but
> this has not happened.  Many states have managed to consolidate parcel
> data (e.g., Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey).  This is very
> helpful, but notable work is required to adapt tools or research from
> one state to another.  And our state along with many others has no
> such offering.  As a result, parcel data users for whom proprietary
> sources are too restrictive or expensive go about manually gathering
> the data from county agencies.  If the application doesn't span county
> lines, and if the county is open with their data, this may not be a
> problem.  But these two conditions are often not both met, driving a
> more intensive data gathering effort.  Such efforts are often
> duplicated for different projects.  We believe that this landscape of
> use and parcel data availability represents an opportunity to form a
> parcel data community concerned with building and maintaining an open
> nationwide (global?) consolidated parcel database.
> This idea is [obviously] inspired by OSM.  And my immediate thought
> was, Fun!  Let's add parcel data to OSM!  How do we do that?  This
> inquiry has of course led to numerous more detailed questions, the
> most fundamental one, of course, being: Is parcel data welcome in OSM?
>  I've spent some time reading through the mailing list history.  In
> addition to gaining an appreciation for some of the issues regarding
> the management of parcel data, I promptly learned that this is a
> controversial question.  For each claim that a consensus exists
> against parcel data in OSM, a parcel data advocate seems to emerge.
> This leads to debate, which seems to focus on a specific set of issues
> that I have posed as specific questions below.  I've also dusted off
> and enriched the wiki page and associated talk page on the matter
> (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Parcel).  My hope is that people
> can respond to these questions and we can reach a clear consensus on
> {whether,what sort of,conditions under which} parcel data is welcome.
> And of course feel free to bring up any issues that are not
> represented in this list.  Finally, even if you believe that parcel
> data does not belong in OSM, but that a nationwide open consolidated
> parcel database would be useful (and possible:) I'm super interested
> in this perspective.
> Is parcel data useful to OSM?
> Can parcel data possibly be kept up to date?
> Does parcel data meet the "on the ground" verifiability criteria?
> Can tools be adapted to accommodate parcel data density?
> Ciao,
> Brian
> [0] http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/conferences/2012/4thITM/Papers-A/0117-000062.pdf
> [1] http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=NI000560
> [2] http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11978
> [3] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40717.pdf

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