Level of detail


I’ve followed the open streep map project for quite some time now, and is often adding minor content, such as buildings and walkways etc. But one thing I haven’t got a grip on yet: What level of detail is good enough for openstreetmap? Should we aim for adding every tree and lamp post? Could anyone point me in the “right” direction?

I’m currently editing this area: http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=55.602053&lon=13.060071&zoom=18&layers=M. Is this the right way to go?

Best regards,

There isn’t really a single “right” level of detail, it depends on your personal priorities. Add as much detail as you can add/maintain for on a reasonably large area while still having fun.

If you want to have more practical goals, you could have a look at classes of applications that you like - are you interested in routing, 3D visualization, railway maps, tourist attractions, …? - and think about what these maps/programs need to work well. This could guide your choices what you map right now, and what you do later or leave to other mappers.

Your example area already has a higher level of visual detail than average cities in OSM offer today. So if you can consistently do this for a larger area, please do so.

Thanks for the great feedback! Then I’ll continue my work. I really like the aspects of routing and 3D visualization (and indoor mapping as well), but I haven’t found any apps/information etc. that makes use of the openstreetmap project. Would be great with a routing app for android (similar to Waze) that can route the openstreetmap and collect traffic data for instance!

Yes, as Tordanik says, you can add as much detail as you like. You are a volunteer, so you don’t have to map any particular things if you are not interested in that.

Though I think it is worth considering whether the data is useful for anyone. eg mapping individual lampposts. Who is actually going to use that data? It might be of interested for the lighting maintenance department of the local government, but they probably have an official map of lampposts already. And if you map every lamppost in your suburb, its not very useful if the lampposts in the rest of the city are unmapped.

Also worth thinking about maintenance of the data. eg if you map all of the trees in your town now, are you going to check next year if they are all still there? Some of them might be cut down, or new trees planted, and the map will become out of date. If there are lots of active mappers in your area, it might be easy to map loads of details, and keep it up to date. But if you are the only mapper in your town, it might be a lot of work for you.

Really good points there Vclaw. And your thoughts seems to align with mine in this case and that’s why I asked the question. I’m mainly sticking to mapping buildings, footpaths, cycleways, parks, hedges, “standalone” trees etc etc. But it’s good to know that the map can never be too detailed.