Adding housenumbers with StreetComplete

Hi, I am the author of StreetComplete, an Android app with with which surveyors can add data to the map directly. More Info here.

Amongst other things, the app incites its users to add housenumbers to buildings. I have read that in your country, most (all?) housenumbers are imported from an official source, regularly.

On the wiki documentation, it is not stated clearly whether this is discouraged. So that is why I would like to ask you whether adding any housenumbers (on building outlines) should be disabled for your country in the app. Ideally, the linked wiki should be updated to reflect the decision made.

To help you decide on this, here are some facts about what the app does:

When are users prompted to enter a housenumber?

  1. Exclusively for buildings tagged as house, residential, apartments, detached, terrace, hotel, dormitory, houseboat, school, civic, college, university, public, hospital, kindergarten, train_station, retail, commercial. Notably not for building=yes

  2. Only for buildings which do not contain (or contain on outline) any node that is tagged with a housenumber or -name

  3. Only for buildings that are not contained in a larger area that already has a housenumber or -name (such as schools, hospitals, campuses etc)

What tags do the users enter?

Users can enter either a addr:housenumber or a addr:housename. Alternatively, they can leave an OSM note in which they can explain the situation and optionally attach a photo.
No tags are replaced by this app, the users can only add data. They can neither delete previously entered housenumbers nor merge housenumbers from nodes onto a building outline and as said above, are also not prompted to supply a housenumber for buildings that already contain a housenumber node.

Related GitHub issue.

We’re currently missing only about 80.000 addresses (0.85%) in the Netherlands in OSM (when compared with official BAG sources), so users will have a hard time finding a building with a missing address. Just over a year ago we had about 245.000 (2,7%) addresses to go, so including the newly issued addresses (about 155.000 added during the that timeframe), we’ve done quite some work to catch up since our original import in 2014.

There aren’t that many buildings matching your criteria and don’t yet have an address, so potential users in the Netherlands are probably a bit disappointed in your app as they cannot really add many addresses, but they can create a note. When you make those notes so that they can be clearly identified (or post them to our forum topic), we can use those to fill in missing data from the official sources using the plugin. Municipalities often lag behind in updating the status of buildings from planned to construction/completed, so that functionality could make them available on the map earlier than it normally would.

Some general guidance on addresses in the Netherlands:
An address is uniquely identified by postcode and housenumber, but in cases where there is no postcode (like electric sub stations) it’s unique by city, street and housenumber.
As long as users don’t fill in the complete address, it will show up as missing for our imports using the JOSM plugin and will require manual fixing during the JOSM validation process.

In the Netherlands we have agreed to put addresses on separate nodes within the building to facilitate apartments and commercial buildings which usually have multiple addresses and have consistent tagging throughout the country.

So I don’t think you’ll need to exclude our country from your app for the above reasons. At least keeping the option open for users to notify us through notes that we have some catching up to do would be welcomed.

housenumber adding quest is just one of many available, so it is not a problem.

Additionally to what Mateusz Konieczny said, to clarify:

The app asks for the housenumber of a building and prompts the user to input it. This housenumber and only the housenumber (no street, no postcode, no city) is then directly added to the OSM database, no note is created for that. (And similarly with inputing housenames)

**Only **if the user clicks on “Unable to answer”, so in case the user surveyed the place and could not find a housenumber (or something like that), the user is given the choice to instead leave a note and explain the situation. The notes generally look like this then:

The housenumber will not show up as being ‘to be fixed’, but as ‘missing’.
As a result, a new node will be added with the address information (street, number, zipcode, etc.).

Most likely the end result is dual address information: On the building and on the node.

I see a bigger problem when the app shows missing addresses when they already exist on a node.

When running the example in the wiki ( on a city with no missing addresses, I see lots and lots of missing addresses.
These addresses already exist on a separate node.
Someone might start adding house numbers because it is assumed they are missing, which is wasted effort.

I think you missed the second point of the opening post. If there is a separate node with address data on the building, the building will not show up in the app. The overpass query results in thousands of hits in my town, while in the app there are maybe around 20 or 30 addresses missing.

Even if you put the aspect of duplicate address data aside, entering the addresses through the app will result in a mix of addresses on nodes and addresses on buildings. Sure it might help identifying buildings without address nodes in the long run, but there are probably other tools out there to do so that will not “litter” the map with data does not fit the current standard.

I see two problems here:

  1. As JanWandelaar pointed out fixing a address that’s not added in the ‘correct’ way adds a lot of manual labour to the update process, compared to just adding a missing address.
  2. Not all buildings need a address. Like a shed behind someones house for example. Most of the buildings that don’t have a address in osm don’t have one irl.

I think it’s more valuable for osm if you direct the time of your users to other problems and disable or give a very low priority to missing addresses.

Also we have a topic on this forum where anyone can request a bag-update (buildings and addresses). Those requests are most of the time fulfilled in a few hours. I can see value in a feature in your app that enables users to leave a note for the bag-update-team if they think the buildings or address data is incorrect.

To be honest, the idea to let users enter data directly is simply horrifying. One look at data from the Red Cross of HOT projects reveals more than I can describe. It is a delicate process that requires lots of study and consideration or else it will inevitably fail.

The same is true for user comments besides a few exceptions. If for example one shop has been closed or replaced in a street that has already been mapped with most of the shops than it is useful as an alert to the mapper. Or for example if the object is situated at a remote spot. In my case I already have such alerts.

What the user actually does is to request us to do their import. That means, at least for me, that I want to check the data myself. The data can be incorrect, outdated and/or incomplete. If the object is not on my path (I have more to do) than I won’t go there. If it is on my path, however, than I will notice it anyway. So the comment doesn’t change anything.