I’ve been really getting stuck into performing on-foot surveys of areas where the street names are missing, and I was thinking about an “easier” way of recording street name data. Don’t get me wrong, walking papers is fantastic (and I still use it to print out where I need to survey), but I was looking for something less fiddly than writing names onto a sheet of paper, as well as trying to facilitate people not living in an area still being able to help with updating maps in an area.
Having written a few J2ME apps in my time, and some of these involving Location Based Services (i.e. GPS), I thought I’d create one to help record name and POI data. I guess you could say it’s based on the tourist guide principle (“if you look over there you’ll see…”). That is, if you record the position, the direction and the comment, others should be able to infer what you have surveyed. The data entry process is quite simple:
1: Start application and wait for GPS fix
2: Find an unnamed street or point of interest to comment on
3: Record point: enter the (compass) bearing and name of the street or comments on the POI
When a point is recorded, the GPS coordinates, heading and comments entered are saved onto the phone. At the end of the survey, choose “Send” from the menu and all the stored data is sent to a server via WWW/CGI. After that, it’s relatively simple to render these points using AJAX and OpenLayers. I’ve included a small screenshot from my recent alpha test of the application here:
note that the data points are overlaid on OSM AFTER I entered all my data. As you can see, I’ve selected a data point where I’m saying that the street heading directly north is called Jasmine Avenue.
It’s my hope that this application will be useful for the following reasons:
1: Not so much writing down of stuff in the field, meaning that people running surveys don’t have to carry around as much stuff.
2: Dissociates surveying from the actual editing of the map, meaning that if you like doing the surveys but aren’t so keen on the data entry, someone else could theoretically lend a hand by using your survey data to update the maps. Same for vice-versa (particularly our OSM friends overseas who physically can’t reach the survey areas).
I figured I’d post to the Australian group, because of my involvement in updating the Australian maps and the fact that thanks to nearmap it’s not (usually) the presence of the streets that are missing, but the names. There are some definite TODOs in here such as using a phone’s on-board compass (my phone doesn’t have one on board, so I’ve been using a compass) or coding for more popular platforms (Android etc).
Anyway, so I was wondering if anyone out there:
1: Thinks my app would help the surveying effort?
2: Would be interested in helping test the phone app (J2ME phone with onboard GPS required - e.g. Nokia E71)?
3: Would be interested in helping test the idea that this information would enable a third party to enter street name information, by trying to use JOSM / Potlatch to enter in street name / POI data provided by people from 2 (I think this is quite important)?
Thanks in advance,