Issue 41

OSMTime meetups on improving OSM Data

Dragoș Andronic
Product Manager @ Telenav

At the end of the each month, in our EU offices we organize an OSMTime meetup. Similar to the Maptime format, during the OSMtime meetup, local maps enthusiasts gather to share information regarding OpenStreetMap initiatives and tools and partake in map editing activities. While all GIS related information & tools are within scope, the main focus of these meetups is OpenStreetMap editing, and more specifically improving OSM within the immediate geographic vicinity.

What have we done until now?

We've addressed different subjects like: improving the quality & amount of address data in OpenStreeMap (over 6 months, during the meetups we added and edited addresses in Cluj Napoca), contributed to the HOT OSM efforts, organized local mapping parties, learned and used various tools to improve the map (ScoutSigns, MapRoulette, etc.) and trained ourselves on specific techniques ( i.e. how to georeference images and how to use them as support for map editing).

Latest OSMTime meetup: testing the Missing Roads tool

At our last meetup we tried the Missing Roads tool, developed by our colleagues from Telenav.

After a short introduction of the tool, where our colleagues showed us how it works and how to use it, all mappers proceeded to edit in the area they most resonated with.

All the fun was possible due to the helpful manual written by Martijn van Exel on his blog. You can check the entire blog post here, but for convenience we'll add the basic steps that would enable you to test the tool.

1. Start with the web tool

It's a convenient way to locate missing roads in an area, you can quickly get a sense of the distribution of the missing roads data.

If you zoom in far enough, you can also see the individual tiles. Take this for example:

You will notice that there are different colors for both the traces and the tiles themselves. There are three basic tiles that can also be filtered by their status as: opened (blue), solved (green), invalid(red) and by their (probable) type.

2. Edit the map

As the web tool is mainly meant for browsing. You cannot change the status of the tiles from the web tool at this time. This can for now only be done in the JOSM plugin. We do however provide convenient links to edit the current map extent in JOSM and iD.

Note 1: To quickly check if there are actually roads in the area, you can switch between the default OSM layer and an aerial imagery layer, courtesy of ESRI.

Note 2: The main interface to the Missing Roads data is our JOSM plugin. It offers a similar browsing functionality as the web tool does, but with a slightly different visualization.

The red dots represent clusters of missing road tiles at lower zooms. When you zoom in you see the actual tiles and the point clouds.

3. Install and activate the plugin

Install the Missing Roads plugin the familiar way, through the JOSM plugin preference pane. When installed, and after a quick JOSM restart, you should see the MissingRoads layer and panel.

Missing Roads Layer

The layer shows up like any other JOSM layer in the layer panel, and of course on the main map canvas showing you the actual missing road tiles / clusters.

Missing Roads Panel

In the panel, you can interact with the currently selected tile(s). If you don't see the panel, you should be able to reveal it using ctrl-F3 / cmd-F3.

The panel has three tabs with various bits of information about the selected tile. If you have more than one tile selected, you'll see info about the last tile you selected.

The Tile tab shows basic information about the selected tile. The History tab shows a history of status changes and comments.

The Have a new idea? tab has a link to the Missing Roads ideas forum. Submit your ideas and bugs there please!

The panel also has a number of action buttons on the bottom. These are for filtering, adding comments, and resolving tiles. I will discuss those features in the next sections!


Similar to the web tool, you can decide which tiles you want to see based on their status and (probable) type.

If you want to clear all filters, you can click Reset. You can only filter on one status or type at a time.

As a bonus, you can also set a trip count threshold. This allows you to filter out tiles that have a low number of trips passing through them. You can see the number of trips for the selected tile in the Tile tab.


Clicking on the comment button opens the Add Comment dialog allowing you to add a comment to the currently selected tiles for your fellow mappers to see.

If you have multiple tiles selected (using Shift while selecting), the comment will be applied to each tile.


Finally, there are three buttons to resolve the selected tile(s): the 'lock' button solves a tile and marks it as done, the 'unlock' button marks the tile(s) as un-done or open again, the '!' button marks the tile(s) as invalid (used this if there is not actually a road there).

It's simple right?

So, shortly what we've discovered during our OSMTime meetup is that in certain areas there were a lot of "missing roads" already present ( in conclusion the OSM community is active), but regardless this each of the attendees found an area that needed some "mapping love".

Mapping tips

A specific tip for using the missing roads tool shared by Martijn: "you shouldn't add roads solely based on the traces. You need a secondary source of validation. Most of the time, this will be an aerial image. The default aerial layer in JOSM is Bing. Bing imagery can be a few years old. For some regions, more recent imagery may be available. Look for aerial layers in the JOSM imagery menu. So be sure to check the imagery menu again if you're editing in an unfamiliar area."

And because an image is worth a thousand words, this is OSMTime:




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