[OSM-talk] Zero tolerance on imports

Hillsman, Edward hillsman at cutr.usf.edu
Mon Feb 21 01:48:56 GMT 2011

On Sun, 20 Feb 2011 15:47:29, Daniel Sabo wrote:

>As a former novice I completely disagree with you here. If the TIGER import hadn't happened I would have had zero interest in OSM, a vast empty map >is not very inspiring.
>But really, no one here has hard data, whenever we say "it destroys the community" or "it helps the community"  we're just throwing anecdotes at >each other. What we need are better tools to build a community like Serge and Kevin are talking about, a dozen of us arguing on a mailing list about >what 360k people "really want" isn't going to accomplish much.
>- Daniel

I agree (and also with Nathan Edgars II that tracing endless subdivisions from aerials is a chore). I've been mapping for two years now, using a mix of tracing and field mapping. I generally do the first in an area, and then go out to field check it and to add details that cannot be mapped from imagery (retail shops, addresses, curb cuts for wheelchairs, bike parking, &c. The fine detail that makes a place a place).

I'd like to suggest one other possible explanation for why mapping in the lag in U.S. lags (and also why I consider the TIGER import, with all its flaws, invaluable). This is, simply, that except for tracing a path using a GPS device, it is unsafe and impractical to map in the field by car or even by bicycle without making a lot of stops to make notes/photos/video--in short, to observe. So I will drive or bike to an area, then get out and do a lot of walking, then line up my photo information with the aerial images and TIGER. Unfortunately, an awful lot of our built environment, especially here in Florida, is not very supportive of walking. A lot is downright dangerous because of design and aggressive driving (while mapping I've come close to getting hit twice while crossing with a walk signal at marked crosswalks and paying attention, by drivers who did not yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk).

My impression is that in most US cities, the places where a lot of POIs have been mapped from field work are in the older, gridded, more pedestrian-friendly parts of the area. This could be because there are more interesting things there, or that people who live there tend to be more likely to have personalities that lead them to get involved in OSM, but it also could be that it is just easier and safer to map there. I recall seeing a piece of research noting that areas with high crime rates tend not to get mapped in OSM, so these would be exceptions to the older-area trend, but support for the hypothesis that walkability matters a lot (high crime means not safe means no mapping on foot). I'd be interested in observations on this by others. If we think it is part of the problem, then we need to factor that into whatever we do to build a community here.

And if someone has figured out a safe and efficient way to map by car or bike without stopping all the time, I'd be interested in hearing about it. Helmet cams on bike helmets can be useful for recording features of the road, but it's not safe to be moving and at the same time staring at something beside the road.

Ed Hillsman

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