Several weeks of work deleted by armchair mapper


satellite images in Dubai are notoriously unreliable; the city is working around the clock to be ready for the Expo 2020, adding 8-lane highways, bridges and tunnels in real live faster than some people can put together a model train. If you look at the available satellite images (Bing, Digital Globe) in many cases you can’t even see the beginning of major construction that has finished by now.

In this specific case, after 18 months of work, in late June new bridges into Business Bay were opened. Since I work there and construction had caused massive traffic delays for over a year, I was thrilled, put 3 GPS trackers into my car and spend a Saturday driving all the new roads, all the exits and all the connections; then added the data to OSM.

In the following weeks I changed my way to the office, purposefully driving detours to make sure I also added related construction going on. All in all, I added four bridges, one tunnel, several service roads and countless exits.

My edits may not have been perfect, but they were certainly correct in the sense that they allowed correct routing, which I also ensured by putting the generated maps on three different Garmin devices. I have been contributing to OSM for 10 years in probably 20 countries on four continents by mapping my own GPS tracks and notes, so I like to think that I know what I’m doing.

When I wanted to add a newly opened tunnel and a new crossing yesterday afternoon, I was very dismayed to see that 99% of the work had been deleted. What was left had been changed to “under construction” and replaced by a lovingly recreation of 2016 satellite imagery.

The user has not been responding to messages and notes.

I have to be honest, I am so frustrated that I am tempted to give up on OSM altogether. The pure thoughtlessness and ignorance displayed here is baffling.

To add insult to injury, OSM were the first to have these roads and bridges before the “competition”. 8 weeks later everyone has them, but we don’t anymore.

What to do?


  • comment on their changeset, explain the situation and mention that you will revert their changes
  • revert the changeset (or ask the DWG or another experienced mapper to revert the changeset if you cannot do it yourseld)

In some situations, it’s good to wait awhile before reverting changes (e.g. small changes), but since you are the mapper that surveyed the area, and they are just doing armchain mapping, you can do it immediately imho.

Thanks for this, I reached out to the DWG as I don’t have the tools to reverse the changes myself and will be going on vacation in a few days.

The changes have been reverted by the original mapper. DWG were also very helpful. Happy end :slight_smile:

Good to hear. Enjoy your vacation