Collaboration brings nearly 1 million missing roads to ImproveOSM

If you go to ImproveOSM today, you will notice that it looks a lot different. No, we are not talking about the recent change to a completely iD-based editing environment, although that was pretty neat too J. We are talking about the massive increase in Missing Road tiles worldwide!

Missing roads everywhere!
Missing roads everywhere!

We added more than 800 thousand new road tiles to ImproveOSM all over the world. The anonymous GPS traces are sourced from INRIX, a company that provides traffic and connected car services. We are extremely excited to have such a huge boost to ImproveOSM and to OSM itself!

If you haven’t tried ImproveOSM recently, why not head over to right now and explore the millions of missing roads, one-way streets and turn restrictions detected from big data analysis on anonymous GPS traces from drivers all over the world?

You can read more about the collaboration with INRIX in the joint press release.


OpenStreetView is now OpenStreetCam

This summer, we launched OpenStreetView and received great response both from the OpenStreetMap community and the press.

After only 4 months, you have already contributed almost 12 million images covering 322 thousand kilometers. We have released open source apps, upload and OpenStreetMap editing tools, and are working on many improvements aimed at improving OSM faster than is possible now.

As part of our fast growing public profile, we have also attracted the attention of Google Inc, who holds the ‘Street view’ trademark. They are really interested in OpenStreetView but also expressed concerns about the name creating confusion. Obviously to us this confusion does not exist, but after considering the pros and cons carefully, we decided to change the name.

From now on, OpenStreetView will be known as OpenStreetCam. 


Aside from the name, nothing changes. In fact, we will be launching some pretty cool new features and improvements very soon, so please stay tuned for that. If you have not tried OpenStreetCam yet, why not download the free and open apps for Android or iOS, explore the coverage or start editing with OSC in OpenStreetMap?

Happy OpenStreetCamming!


ImproveOSM now based on iD editor

With the help of ImproveOSM, Telenav’s project to analyze billions of GPS points to detect missing roads, one-ways, and turn restrictions, you have already looked at 60,000 missing road tiles, 15,000 one-way suggestions, and 2,000 turn restriction suggestions since the project launched in September 2015.

Today, the Telenav OSM team has released a completely new version of the ImproveOSM web site. is now entirely based upon the OpenStreetMap iD editor. The new ImproveOSM combines the benefits of the familiar, user-friendly iD editing environment with the power of ImproveOSM detections.

The new ImproveOSM web site based on iD
The new ImproveOSM web site based on iD

The new ImproveOSM web site showing missing roads.

Since the new web site is based on iD, it should look very familiar and you should have little trouble getting started with it. The main difference you will see is that the ImproveOSM version of iD has a special panel, which shows ImproveOSM specific options, actions and information. If you have used ImproveOSM before, these will be familiar to you. You can mark items as solved or invalid and apply filters to determine which detections you see.

I do not want to go into too much detail in this post, but I do have a quick power tip: following up on many requests from you, you can now select multiple missing road tiles more easily by pressing shift and selecting one tile. This will automatically select all adjoining tiles within the current view.

Our goal is to integrate the ImproveOSM functionality into the main iD editor over time. To make that happen, your feedback is really important, so please do not hesitate to report bugs and ideas on the project GitHub page, where the source code will also become available soon.

We hope you enjoy the new ImproveOSM web site and look forward to your feedback! Happy mapping!


HOTOSM recognition by the President of Mexico in Internet Day 2016

On the Internet Day, May 17 2016 the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto invited fifty citizens who called Digital Leaders (#LideresDigitales) to have a dialogue on the future of technology and Internet in Mexico, I had the opportunity of being among these group of citizens. The President talked about various related topics but especially appreciated the efforts of humanitarian mapping conducted by Humanitarian OpenStreetMap in Hurricane Patricia.

Day of Internet 2016- Dialogue with the President of Mexico
día del internet_3
President’s office twitter account

Why the President of México thanked the efforts from HOTSOM in Hurricane Patricia? Here you will find some details so you know what was done.

On October 23, 2015 Hurricane Patricia threatened to touch the states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco with winds up to 325 km/h, authorities of Mexico mentioned “It is very likely that this hurricane is the strongest ever in the Pacific side of our country, since it has records ”

Hurricane Patricia Path from NOAA

Contributors of OpenStreetMap and HOTOSM like Rodolfo Wilhelmy, Humberto Yances, Rafael Avila, Robert Banick, Andres Ortiz, and many others (sorry for not mentioning everyone)  in addition to an army of over 500 mappers of Mexico and the world joined efforts to support this area of the Mexican Pacific with data that could be used for the benefit of the population that could be affected. Fortunately, the hurricane lost strength by touching the coast of Mexico causing minimal damage compared to what was expected.

Quick stats:

  • More than 500 contributors mapped 9,000 kms of roads (5.6k miles of road) + 72,000 buildings in 72hrs
  • It was processed 29,608 km^2 pre-event DigitalGlobe imagery to improved coverage over priority areas.
  • It was analyzed INEGI road data to identify missing roads and road names in OSM data.
  • Mexico Open Data was confirmed by authorities to be used in OpenStreetMap.

All these was possible thanks to the great work HOT members, companies supporting OSM project and the local community in Mexico and the World

Contributors mapping the priority area in 72 hours Gif by Mapbox

The event took place in Los Pinos (The equivalence of the U.S. White House) at the moment the Open Data topic was mentioned, Peña Nieto said he knew someone who had supported the alert for Hurricane Patricia was among the guests so I raised my hand to start the dialogue, the President mentioned “… I just want to thank because it’s an example that illustrates very well what we can achieve and I think that you also use open information.” In my participation  I could give my point of view on the need for Mexico not only upload open data to be the first in quantity of released Open Data but emphasize the need of quality Open Data in order to take better decisions based on them. Also I could mention the importance of Open Mapping and collaboration between Governments and Civil Society so more Mexicans are less harmed by disasters (find the video here).

Fragment of video from President’s office twitter account

In Mexico the OpenStreetMap community is not as numerous as in other countries but in the last two years a group of collaborators we have joined together to promote the project and increase the local community through massive workshops in Universities and courses for Government Authorities and Civil Society. Much remains to be mapped but I believe we are on the right track.

Miriam Gonzalez



Happy Mapping Hour – Presentation Import Project INEGI MGN (National Geostatistical Framework)

Last April 6th 100% of the Mexico Telenav’s team (Andrés Ortiz 50% and Miriam Gonzalez 50% 😀 ) presented the results of Import Project INEGI National Geostatistical Framework. The meeting point was the Felina bar on the edge of Condesa and Escandon neighborhood.

Andres presenting at Happy Mapping Hour
Miriam presenting in Happy Mapping Hour                                                         Image by @Tlacoyodefrijol

More than 20 people booked and came to the appointment. The project was originally announced in May 2015 with much skepticism because this was the first time a project of such magnitude was taking place in Mexico and the OpenStreetMap community in Mexico at that time was very disperse.

Before the Import Project there were 69 valid boundaries                               Image by Ruben @Mapbox

Many import projects have been conducted in many parts of the world, such projects have helped (mostly) to create the map of the world that we have today and Mexico was going to be part of them. People with extensive knowledge in imports formed part of the project including Victor Ramirez, Ernesto Carreras, contributors od OpenStreetMap Puerto Rico and Rafael Avila, a HOTOSM collaborator and expert in African countries imports. At the beginning of the project we realized that there were only 69 valid administrative boundaries (although in the image it looks more than 69,  these lacked the tag SOURCE which made them invalids) and the end of the Import project the team had added 2,457 administrative boundaries with tag Source = INEGI MGN 2014 v6.2

After the Import Project there were 2,457 administrative boundaries        Image by Ruben @Mapbox

To the #HappyMappingHour diverse OSM contributors atended such as geographers, developers, archeologists and also Armando Aguiar – INEGI IT Services Director  witnessed how the Open Data Inegi released at the end of 2014 has been in benefit of OpenStreetMap. Let me share some statistics:

Quick Statistics:

Node numbers/Ways/ Deleted relations

  • 500K / 2k / 500

Node numbers/ Ways / Added relations

  • 1000K / ~4k / ~1050

Number of hours dedicated :

  • 250+

NUmber of administrative boundaries added:

  • 2,457


Now that the map has de MGN boundaries as a reference mappers as Irk_Ley have been investigating the local laws of the states of Veracruz and have been reviewing historical maps of the Map Library Manuel Orozco. These mappers will be verifying and correcting those limits which have differences with the MGN when they have the backup of the documentation of the local law.

Ancient map of the Papatla, Veracruz region

Here you will find the presentation of #HappyMappingHour and if you want more technical details we suggest you check the following blogs and the wiki.

Here also you will find two Blogs from collaborators in the Import Project:

Blog: My experience in OSM during the MGN Import by Pablo Garcia (OSM user: Irk Ley)

Blog: Import of INEGI Mexico municipalities finished by Andres Ortiz (OSM user: Andresuco)

You can contact them directly if you have any questions or comments for them.

What are the next challenges?

Evaluate data from the National Road Network and create a joint project with Mexico OpenStreetMap community to carry out its import. It is also in the radar create a tool where information from OpenStreetMap in Mexico is a kind of “inspector” to send feedback to INEGI about possible shortcomings or errors can be corrected and improved thanks to contributors OpenStreetMap but first we need more discussions with the local community.


Updates to ImproveOSM JOSM plugin for better usability

The team has been working on some nice updates to the ImproveOSM JOSM plugin. I have been taking the new version for a spin and wanted to report back.

In case you need a refresher: ImproveOSM is a suite of tools (currently a web site and a JOSM plugin) that takes the results of a massive data analysis comparing billions of GPS data points with existing OSM data and displays them in a way that makes it easy for any mapper to improve OSM with missing roads, turn restrictions, and one-way tags.

Missing Roads (red), One-ways (orange) and Turn Restrictions (blue) in the clustered view of the ImproveOSM JOSM plugin.
Missing Roads (red), One-ways (orange) and Turn Restrictions (blue) in the clustered view of the ImproveOSM JOSM plugin. This is the Dallas, Texas area. Imagery from Bing.

The improvements are fairly small but gave me a noticeably nicer workflow, so I thought it would be worth sharing.

The first improvement is that you can now right-click on any of the ImproveOSM layers in the layer panel to access the data filtering options for that layer.

Access the data filters using a right-click on the layer panel
Access the data filters using a right-click on the layer panel.

The data filters let you see part of the data for that layer based on various criteria, such as number of trips, confidence level, status and others. The criteria available vary by layer. Here is the filter window for Missing Roads, for example:

Filter window for missing roads

The filters themselves are not new, but you needed to go to the ImproveOSM panel to access them before. I think this is way quicker.

Another thing I really like is the improved visualization for the turn restrictions. The team made it much easier to see the from-via-to flow of the suggested restriction. The from-segment is now green and the to-segment is red. When selected, the info panel will also display more useful information than before:

The new visualization of the missing turn restriction. The 'from' segment is green, the 'to' segment is red.
The new visualization of the missing turn restriction. The ‘from’ segment is green, the ‘to’ segment is red.
The metadata we display for a turn restriction is now more relevant.
The metadata we display for a turn restriction is now more relevant.

The detailed info panel was improved for the other categories (missing roads and one-ways) as well.

Finally, when you are done mapping an ImproveOSM thing, you can now quickly mark the thing as invalid or solved, without having to enter a comment. We realized that this was not a very efficient workflow. You can still add a comment upon closing the issue, but now it’s easy to do it without, by right-clicking on the ‘solve’ or ‘invalidate’ buttons and selecting the appropriate action.


These small but meaningful improvements made my work with ImproveOSM in JOSM much more efficient. We are always looking for more ways to make ImproveOSM better. If you have used ImproveOSM and you have a few minutes to spare, I would appreciate it if you filled out this survey. Thanks a lot!


Improve OSM adds missing roads in Guatemala

In a new data release today, we added about 500 tiles worth of missing roads in and around Guatemala!

Missing roads near Coatepeque, Guatemala
Missing roads near Coatepeque, Guatemala in JOSM. Imagery from Bing.

We are excited to be adding more and more Missing Roads data to ImproveOSM using GPS data from our own users as well as from data partners, like we did in Brazil and in this case.

You will notice that the tiles look a little different from the ones you are used to if you have used ImproveOSM before: they don’t show the individual points. This is because this particular data was processed a little differently. If you use JOSM, you will also see an update to the ImproveOSM plugin to accommodate this change.

While you are looking at the new Missing Roads, perhaps you will also notice some other recent improvements to the ImproveOSM web site. We re-ran all tiles based on new map data from mid-April, and we improved our turn restriction detection so we won’t show a missing turn restriction when OSM already has a ‘only straight on’ restriction.

Happy Mapping!


ImproveOSM with your own GPS data – a Field Report

We launched ImproveOSM about 6 months ago as a way to turn the vast amounts of GPS data that Scout users give us into useful and actionable hints mappers can use to add turn restrictions, missing roads as well as wrong or missing one-way streets. The response has been incredible — since we launched, more than 26 thousand hints have been processed, leading to more than 16 thousand improvements to the map worldwide. I think that is a fantastic result, and we will keep working to make ImproveOSM better based on your feedback.

Initially, we just used our own GPS data to generate the hints. But there is no reason why we couldn’t process any GPS data we can get from other sources. So I was really excited when long time Brazil mapper Wille Marcel got in touch with a cool idea. He worked with the Brazilian Environment Ministry, which collects GPS data of the vehicles that work in environmental monitoring. Most of the data are in rural areas where OSM is much less complete. So this was a perfect fit for ImproveOSM’s missing roads tool.After getting the proper permissions from the agency, Wille sent us the GPS data and we started analyzing it.sparse-missing-roadsWe quickly realized that the GPS data is much less dense than what we are used to working with. Some missing roads were only driven once. Our algorithm, tuned to higher density data, initially only detected a few tiles. We decided to loosen the detection threshold significantly for this particular dataset. After a few iterations of tweaking and testing, we ended up withmore than 5000 tiles containing missing roads based on Wille’s GPS data.overviewThe missing roads in Brazil are on ImproveOSM now, so why not go to the web site or fire up the ImproveOSM JOSM plugin and help the Brazilian community out by adding some missing roads?If you are in a similar position as Wille and know of a source of free and open GPS data for your country, please get in touch with me so we can look at the data and see if we can include it in ImproveOSM.

We are already working with a number of other folks who have lots of GPS data. Soon, the number of missing roads, one-ways, and turn restrictions in ImproveOSM will be much, much bigger. We are also working on a host of new features, so I hope you will stay tuned to the ImproveOSM blog to be among the first to hear about what we have up our sleeves for ImproveOSM and other OSM related projects we are working on. And follow us on Twitter at @ImproveOSM!

See also Wille’s post about this collaboration (in Portuguese).


Help map some sidewalks for cities in the U.S.

United States cities are built for cars, with very few exceptions. From where I am sitting right now, I see this:


Cars zooming by incessantly at 70kph.

Finding your way in an urban space that is designed this way is tricky – and often dangerous – if you are walking or bicycling. Sidewalks are often not present, crossing streets can be very dangerous or even impossible. OSM has great tagging for bike lanes and sidewalks, but I find that these crucial tags are often missing on ways that need them most: the four or six lane urban arterials that you see in the picture above.

As I was sitting here asking myself how on earth I would get back to my hotel (which is 10 minutes away) safely, I thought to myself: ‘we can fix this problem and make the world a bit safer for those who can’t or won’t drive.’

MapRoulette to the rescue!

I created this challenge highlighting all primary and secondary ways that have nosidewalk tag in Tampa, Florida. (I am actually in Sarasota now, south of Tampa, but I already fixed all the ways there so that would be a boring challenge.) The idea is to look at the aerial image in JOSM or iD, see if there is a sidewalk, and add the appropriate tag. Adding sidewalk=no is actually just as important as adding both, right or left. Here is an example way from this challenge:


Even zooming further in there is no sight of a sidewalk:


So let’s add that information:


And upload!

Create a Challenge for your city

The fun part is that you can easily replicate this challenge for your own city. Here’s what to do.

Overpass Turbo

First you head over to Overpass Turbo and run the query that highlights all highway=primary and highway=secondary that have no sidewalk tag:


You can use my query as a template, replacing the GeocodeArea with the name of your city.

Once you have the results, export them to GeoJSON. Let’s use a gist:



You can now click on the gist link and see the result on GitHub as well:


We will need the ‘raw’ GeoJSON content, so click on the ‘Raw’ button and copy the link it leads you to.


Next we’ll use a little tool I created to easily turn the contents of a GeoJSON file into a MapRoulette challenge. To get it, head over to the Github repository and follow the instructions to install the tool.

The tool takes its configuration from a YAML file. The samples directory contains an example for this sidewalks challenge you can use as a template:

# the base URL for the MapRoulette server API to call
#server: "http://localhost:5000/api"

# server API admin credentials
user: devuser
password: mylittlesony

# source file or URL. You can give a list of URLs too, all data will be gathered and added to the same challenge.
# source_file: ....

# source geojson property key to use as your task identifier (optional, will use random UUID if not given)
# identifier_property = ...

# Challenge metadata, see for background
slug: sidewalks-sarasota
title: Add sidewalks to major roads in Sarasota
instruction: This way has no `sidewalk` tag. Usually you can see from the aerial imagery if there is a sidewalk or not. Please add the appropriate `sidewalk` tagging.
help: "Help make OSM be a better resource for safe, walkable streets! Many primary and secondary roads in the US are not safe for pedestrians if there is no sidewalk. This challenge highlights all `primary` and `secondary` ways that have no [`sidewalk`]( tagging whatsoever. You can help by looking at aerial imagery and adding the appropriate `sidewalk` tagging. `sidewalk=no` is just as important to have as the 'positive' values. Thanks for helping make OSM better!"

The only items you would need to change are the source_url (use the raw GeoJSON github link you just copied), the slug (use sidewalks-YOURSTATE-YOURCITY or something similar – this will be the challenge URL component in MapRoulette) and the title (change the city name).

By default this configuration will post to If you want to post you would need to get in touch with me to get the credentials.

Once you have the YAML config file in order posting to MapRoulette is as simple as:

$ ./ samples/sidewalks-sarasota.yaml --post --activate
Posting 364 tasks...
server alive: True
Updating challenge...
Reconciling tasks...

Let me know if you need any help with this or if you want me to create a challenge for you!


Check out the new tutorial section

Recently we have launched a video tutorial section on, to help our users get up to speed with our tools and let you know what are all the possibilities and all the versatility of our products for the community’

So far, we have 2 videos. One is focused on doing a gentle introduction to Improve OSM, some sort of a guided tour of the Improve OSM web site for new users. This is the perfect starting point if you’re new here.

The second one is a step-by-step guide to fixing your first one-way street in OpenStreetMap using the Improve OSM web site. You can see it here.

We’ll prepare more tutorial videos soon. Let us know what other aspects of our products you’d like to be featured in the future.