State of the Map Scotland - The State of Scotland

With the "Official" State of the Map Conference in Denver finishing over the weekend, I'm reminded that I've not yet put my talk from our little un-conference at the end of August up on, and as we have a social in Edinburgh this evening, I though that I had better do that. So here are my slides and a rough version of what I talked about, we had a mixed group so who were new to OpenStreetMap and also regular mappers; my plan was to try and put something in for both groups.

The talk started by thinking about what is OpenStreetMap…

OpenStreetMap creates and provides free geographic  data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think  of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions  on their use, holding back people from using them in  creative, productive, or unexpected ways.

So we have the Open data definition of OpenStreetMap, but what does it actually look like:

The OpenSteetMap Foundation The Map The Planet File The Website The Wiki Tools The Community  .????

So what does OpenStreetMap Look Like? What tangible and untangible things do we have?

Well like it or not OSM was formed on an open principle of licensing so lets start there….


So we started with a CC-BY-SA license which is built on the principle that you are free to Share or Adapt, the work provided that you Attribute and Share Alike the resulting work. But there are problems with this for a database such as OSM's so there has been a process to create the ODBL:

I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty now, and Dair is going to be talking about the advantages of ODBL over CC-BY-SA later. But the ongoing process is not without pain, but the end result will be a map that is much easier to actually use, and that what we're about.

So is OSM about the MAP? We definitly have advantages over other maps, for example the A to Z might show:


A close where this is a row of houses as an Easter Egg.

Also our map can be much better than the alternatives: Take a look at one of the area's I first mapped on Bing:

In google:

and on OSM:

As well as factual inaccuracies, such as Road naming, missing streets, and incorrect road geometries, there are also additional details such as cycle paths, foot paths, private roads, buildings, schools, parks, station platforms and steps on OSM.

We can also do more interesting things with maps, such as create our versions from the underlying data:

This is from my work in Progress for Edinburgh Festival Maps. Where I can choose what is displayed and what isn't, for example the fringe venues show their festival names and are shown in blue.

And all this is possible because it's a map we can Edit ourseleves.

and the data model is pretty simple, at the bottom we have nodes, on there own these can represent point objects. Such as cycle parking, traffic lights, bollards. There can be connected together to for ways. There might represent roads or building, boundaries, rivers anything that might be represented by a line or a closed area.

Less simple, we also have relations, these are collections or ways or nodes, and are used to represent more complex objects such as the courtyard in a building or cycle routes.

On top of these we have a flexible tagging scheme:

the tagging scheme is totally open, there are no rules enforced by the API or the database. This means that you are free to tag things however you want. But the community has a set of conventions that are documented on the wiki and generally these are adhered to. But the important thing here is when you find something new; there aren't any committees deciding how to tag, you just do it.

So is OSM the hardware?

or the code?

I would say that it's the community:

Not that kind of community…

This kind of community - this picture is from the Edinburgh Zoo mapping party where we mapped the zoo out:


It's the same community that meant that in November 2007, Edinburgh looked like:

and in August 2012:

and overall the numbers against the ITO analysis look pretty good:

Place OS Locator Roads Missing % Complete
Edinburgh 4,760 0 100
Midlothian 1,180 0 100
Clackmannanshire 817 5 99.27
South Lanarkshire 5432 73 98.55
West Dunbartonshire 1,233 18 98.54
Shetland Islands 309 6 98.06
Stirling 1,361 29 97.58
East Ayrshire 2039 50 97.5
Glasgow City 6758 171 97.44
West Lothian 2030 48 97.44
Inverclyde 1239 32 97.42
Na H Eileanan An Iar 298 5 97.32
East Lothian 1343 33 97.1
North Ayrshire 2180 63 97.06
Dundee City 2223 65 97.03
Angus 1877 57 96.91
South Ayrshire 1803 61 96.45
Argyll And Bute 1400 50 96.43
Monmouthshire 1529 52 96.34
Fife 5607 217 95.93
Scottish Borders 1890 78 95.77
East Renfrewshire 1323 57 95.62
Aberdeen City 2772 125 95.27
Highland 3443 535 84.05
Aberdeenshire 3886 626 83.63
Renfrewshire 2447 430 82.18
Perth and Kinross 2409 478 79.91
Dumfries And Galloway 2556 586 76.53
Moray 1545 366 75.92

Until we get too the bottom of the table… but the total is still something to be proud of.

According to the ITO analysis, we're missing"4316 Roads compared to OS.

This means that Scotland is 93% "Complete" by this measure.

and when we are 100% complete on this measure there may be other measures to look at:

such as the meridian analysis, but we need to complete the map first. For now, and I don't want to start a fight:

we're going to do that by tracing:

Which is great, people can use the maps with confidence; and across the country we know we at very least meet the google maps standard, but for the OSM standard we really need to have people on the ground, and we have a problem, there was a study done into Who Maps in OpenStreetMap and Why?

This found that mappers are 96% Male and 78% have a degree and higher.

We also know that more people looking at area's improved accuracy.

So for the best freshest map we need people on the ground, in Moray and Dumfries and across Scotland.

The OSM website shows 30 mappers within 1km of me in Edinburgh, yet we have huge area's of Scotland with no one.

The big challenge for OSM in Scotland is to get people across the country looking after there street, town and village in Scotland adding the details and seeing what has changed.

Photo Credits

Culture Hack Scotland #1

So for anyone not following me on twitter, I'm currently attending Culture Hack Scotland; basically the big idea is to try and bring the tech and culture communities together. This is also based around a set of open data which including fringe data, although for 2011 at least the fringe data will have some restrictions applied to it; however it's a great step forward.

There are lots of idea's going on, some of which are quite exciting. However my plan is to work on a "Festival" Rendering of openstreetmap for Edinburgh, I'm really just at the point where I can start to render maps and have a proposed tagging scheme for doing this within OSM.

Still lots of work to do but at the moment I have started to put Fringe Venues on the map:

Edinburgh Zoo Mapping Party


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So this is a **very **long overdue writeup of the Edinburgh Zoo mapping party that took place on Saturday 3rd July. Thanks to the work that Bob had done not only were the zoo expecting us but also allowed us in for free in order to make the map.

We used the zoo's own map to create a cake and each took an area to map.

I had picked the top of the hill to the North East, which included the Big Cats:


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Overall the area division worked well, we did have some overlap but largely deliberate and partly to explore the rest of the zoo :)

The biggest challenge turned out to be that working on such a small scale in a heavily wooded environment meant that GPS traces were very unreliable, so a lot of the actual mapping came down to using the traces as guidelines and some dead reckoning. Trying to make sure that everything is relatively well positioned  and fitting all the features in was a good challenge. Perhaps another trip in the winter when the trees won't have any leaves with some walking papers will be in order?

It wasn't all work, I certainly paused to see some of the animals and happened to be passing animal antics during one of the demonstrations, unfortunately I didn't get the name of this bird as there were no signs to photograph:

However at the end of the day we ended up with a much better map of the zoo, hopefully with all the enclosures covered:

Edinburgh Zoo OSM

Finally the picture of the "brave" mappers who turned up to do the day's mapping.

Map data copyright OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Edinburgh mapping party - Penicuik

View to the Pentlands.

So we had the first of what will hopefully be a series of many Scottish mapping parties on Saturday, the idea is to pick somewhere which is reasonably accessible and still in need of mapping and get together and spend some time filling in some of the big gaps outside of the city.

There was enough of an outline of the roads to divide the town up into sectors and we headed off on bicycles and in cars to cover the town.

We meet back for lunch at the Peni Deli where we were able to compare our tracks on my eeePC, although my gpsbabel kung-fu failed me and I only managed to pull waypoints and not the full tracks from the Garmin. However it was still a valuable tool to see who had managed to cover what area's, and importantly what was left to be covered.

We then split up to cover some of the area's left, to map in the afternoon. I think that we may have got things slightly wrong here as we ended up with some duplication in terms of the area's covered; however this isn't necessary a bad thing as it has meant that some area's have ended up much better than if a single person would have covered them.

But, there is a lesson for the future, especially when we have lots of people trying to map a small area is that we all would be better carrying paper maps with the area's each person is covering written on them or possibly working much closer as a team through an area and dividing up to cover various road, paths, building etc.

Overall the day was a huge success, we managed to elevate Penicuik largely to the "mapped" status although I have no doubt that we will have missed some roads and certainly haven't covered all the myriad of various footways around the estates.

View Larger Map

Overall, I covered 25 miles on my bike on my bike as shown by the blue line on the map above.


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It's also worth putting out a big cheers to Bob for doing the hard work in organising this, and hopefully see some of you at the Glasgow mapping party on the 22nd May.

Weekend Away in the Peaks


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We just got back from our annual weekend away with friends.

As usual I took the GPS down with me do do some OpenStreetMapping,  however the map is so good these days that apart from the odd postbox and having to reclassify a track to a road there was not a huge amount to add. I was even able to use the garmin files to successfully navigate a small walk.

This left plenty of time to drink a few beers and take lots of pictures :)

New Year. New Blog. Probably the same old story.


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So here I am again. I've switch the blog from serendipity to wordpress. Despite the possible security issues with  wordpress, I've a number of wordpress blogs and I have a script which should help me keep them all up to date using svn.

In addition, I'm in the process of moving my hosting from gradwell to a Virtual Machine hosted by bytemark partly because it will be cheaper for me and also because I was finding it hard getting support questions answered by  gradwell. This also means that at low volumes the response time from a dedicated server is much faster than from shared hosting. With the rollout of google's new Caffeine infrastructure it's likely that speed will become a factor in the search results.

So I've also built a new template for the site. It's basically a cut down hacked around version of the standard wordpress kubrik template. From the previous site I've cut down on the use of colour and I've dropped headers entirely and kept a single sidebar. There are lots of tweaks that still need to be applied.

So, I'm hoping to provide regular updates on my usual activities… Progress on the bread making front, photography, OpenStreetMap, Bedlamites and whatever else comes up :) In reality I probably won't end up doing anything for another 3 months.

New passport.


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Finally. I have a new Nationality and passport to go with it.

I'm impressed by the efficiency of of Identity and passport agency service. I had an interview with them on Tuesday to "confirm my identity" and the new passport arrived today.