loads of missing houses

Went to look myself up in the openstreetmap, and there aren’t any automatically boxes houses in most of Tacoma WA.
Certainly this isn’t up to a human to box the houses … !!!


I’m afraid it most certainly is. Sometimes there is publicly available data that could be imported into the OSM database under very strict prerequisites but most information in OpenStreetMap is indeed mapped by humans.

I bet someone wrote something to recognize boxes/houses to get it going, then fix up mistakes later. Is there a community member with those chops?

Actually, Microsoft (and others) have been using software to generate building outlines from imagery. Microsoft has made their outlines for buildings in the US available to OSM but there are logistical issues in bringing in that data. Basically someone has to figure out how to manage it as one or more imports (splitting up the data into bite sized areas, setting up a tasking manager, putting procedures in place to merge (conflate) existing OSM data with the imported MS data were the same object(s) exist in both, putting procedures in place to assure quality, etc. Basically the whole “manage an import” workflow. So lots of work to do to make it happen.

In the meantime, I draw in the buildings from aerial imagery as I add the addresses that I collected by walking around.

Addresses are another thing that people often import so I guess I am doing it the slow hard way. But there is some satisfaction in seeing an area with buildings, addresses, speed limits, turn lanes, etc. all mapped and know that you were responsible for it.

Right on. I’m not opposed to doing some legwork, might be a neat reason to take a little stroll. What does an evening mapping session look like? Phone? Notepad?

I see that it would take a lot of work to bring houses and businesses over by hand. But, with the number of houses out there, it has to be worth it.

My current workflow is to run an old copy of KeypadMapper with which I can key in house numbers as I walk down a street. Back at home I bring them into JOSM, verify placement with buildings as shown on aerial imagery, trace missing buildings, then put the addresses on the buildings (update geometry) and then upload. The reason for the old version of KeypadMapper is that the more recent one I am aware of records and uploads information about cell towers and I don’t like the idea of an app doing things like that without having control over it. If you are using an Android phone and are interested in the copy of the app I compiled I can put it in some public place for you to download.

In the past I printed out a map of and then marked it up as I walked around. I found that less efficient and much more conspicuous than my current method.

Apparently newer versions of Vespucci can be used for adding addresses too but I was not able to figure out how to do it efficiently and with mobile data disabled (my usual mode of operation). But Vespucci is well maintained and if you are starting from scratch developing a field survey methodology that works for you, you may want to investigate it.

FWIW, I just returned from visiting some relatives. In one neighborhood someone has added building outlines but no house numbers. In another there are only streets, no buildings or addresses. In the next couple of days I’ll be adding the addresses and verifying/adding buildings for those areas. Also got some hiking trails to update as well as max speeds that were either missing or wrong to work on too.