Getting Started with OpenStreetMap

As part of the feedback from our Lagos Mapping Party last week, some attendees requested a link to a summary of activities, to reduce the learning curve of people that are new to OpenStreetMap.
I am going to reference existing sites, but in use cases where I think may assist understanding, I will write a scenario using an example in Nigeria to explain.

This article will also serve as a starting reference point for all other users and communities we are trying to build across Nigeria.

Our immediate mapping focus for Nigerian cities is to:

  • Update street names,
  • Capture POI data,
  • Add buildings.

The first start is always here. It is clearly explained how any user can get involved in the OSM project and is a MUST read.

Some people learn through questions, and as such the OpenStreetMap FAQ here is an invaluable place to get answers.

Contributing to OSM falls into two categories namely:

Data Uploads and Direct OSM editing.

While every user is encouraged do both activities end to end, splitting the workflow also has its merits. It allows people of varying experience to contribute.

Another advantage like we saw in Lagos Mapping party was that if data is pre captured, the time spent at the party location can be greatly utilised for updates on such data.

Data Uploads

This is a very important way to contribute to OSM.
These are also non technical ways to contribute.
We already have a couple of people on the Nigeria mailing list who have offered to map remotely.
All a user needs to do is to first upload data of anywhere in Nigeria and then send us a link at the mailing list for the remote mapping people to do the updates.

  • Create and upload a track. This is a simple workflow done in Agungi, Lagos.
  • Add photos with Mapillary app  is very well documented here.
    If you are planning to use a car or bike, mobile phone holders seem a little hard to find from my research, but you can check any electronic gadget shops in the area you live.
  • Upload Field Papers , which is advanced mapping simplified to a sheet of paper and a pencil.

Remember to email a link to the Nigeria group so we know what you have uploaded and we can get the edits done.

Direct OSM Editing

OSM uses a tag system to differentiate spatial objects.  This is well documented and should be read before any such edits are made.
There is also a comment system that lets other users know what you added or updated.

Quality is an essential part of any data activity.
PLEASE read through here to understand the basic best practises.

So here we go ….

Author: Ayo Akinseye

I am a Geospatial Management level Professional. Opensource Geo and Economic development are two areas (out of many) of personal passion. Combining both into a series of action and articles is the focus of this internet presence.

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