Tag Archives: OpenStreetMap

My business on OSM in five minutes

4 Oct

You might have seen Google ads around, suggesting people to add their business to Google Maps. I thought I would write a short post to help out people trying to add their business to a different project: OpenStreetMap.

You can very easily add your business to OpenStreetMap (OSM), a crowd-sourced map of the world that is more and more widely used as the data is released under an Open Database License (ODbL).

Here are the five easy steps to add your business in the database for everyone to find. It is very likely it will actually take you less than five minutes.


Go on the OSM website, find where your business is located and click on the “edit” button.

Find where your business is and click on "edit".

Find where your business is and click on “edit”.

You might have to create an account if you don’t have one already (it only takes a few seconds!).


Click on “Point” and add a node to the map where your business is located.

Click on "Point" and add a single node to the map.

Click on “Point” and add a single node to the map.


Search for the business type, or the closest matching category, and click on it.

Search for your business category.

Search for your business category.


Add details about your business in the fields.

Add information about your business.

Add information about your business.

You can add extra information by clicking on the icons below the fields, like phone number and website.

Extra fields are also available at the bottom.

Extra fields are also available at the bottom.

The only tricky field is for the opening hours. Make sure you have a look at examples on this wiki page. In my example, in have to use the syntax Mo - Su 10:00-24:00 for a business opening seven days a week, from 10 am till midnight.


Save your changes by clicking on “Save”, and add a commit message like “my own business” to justify them.

Save your changes.

Save your changes.


You will be able to see your changes on the map just a few minutes after you saved your changes. And your business will be that much more visible!

If you have any question or need some help, feel free to comment below or to have a look at the OSM wiki, where you can search for information specific to your business type.

Cheers for reading!

Happy 10th birthday, OpenStreetMap!

20 Aug

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a open data project focused on mapping our entire physical world. Just a few days ago, the project turned ten.

The wiki introduces the project as follows:

Welcome to OpenStreetMap, the project that creates and distributes free geographic data for the world. We started it because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways.

The Wikipedia article describes the project as “a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world.”  It adds that “two major driving forces behind the establishment and growth of OSM have been restrictions on use or availability of map information across much of the world and the advent of inexpensive portable satellite navigation devices.”

OSM started on the 1st of July 2004. I started helping out as a simple local contributor almost three years ago, and I have closed more than 200 changesets. It isn’t much, but I feel like I am doing my bit for an amazing project. I sort of moved from Wikipedia to OSM as the open knowledge project I contribute the most to, although I never really stopped editing Wikipedia. I might even focus on it again later on, who knows!

For the tenth birthday of this project I really love, here are a few random examples of the great thing that the freely available data OSM offers lets people do and create, just in the two last years. Another example would be OpenBeerMap, a project I wrote about recently. I gathered them (with their captions) from the great selection of images offered by the Featured Images page on the wiki. Click on the pictures for more details.

3D-printed models

File:Gorbals 3d.jpg

3D printed model of the Gorbals, Glasgow, location of the Commonwealth games 2014. Created using osm2world to convert from .osm to 3D and SRTM elevation data. Printed using a Ultimaker 2.

Some information from Gary Martin:

“Duncan Bain documented the data extract process nicely in his blog post http://duncanbain.com/research/blog/state-of-the-map-scotland-2013/ I followed the same process, but also added elevation data from SRTM when using OSM2World; Blender was for the 3d clean-up work; Cura for slicing the 3d model to gcode; and an Ultimaker 2 for the final 7 hour PLA print.”

HOT is a humanitarian mapping project

File:HOT changesets west africa 2014-04-05.png

HOT (Humanitarian OSM Team) is coordinating mapping efforts for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The map shows all changesets with #HOT in and around Guinea. The tool visualises changesets of the last seven days with a certain comment.

HOT coordinates humanitarian mapping projects depending on what happens around the world, and often helps others do a better job at delivering aid on site after major natural disasters of health issues.

File:Three large poster maps of Tacloban, Guiuan and Ormoc.jpg

Large OSM-based poster maps of Tacloban, Guiuan and Ormoc printed and delivered by International Organization on Migration in DSWD Operations Center in Tacloban Airport. The maps will be used to coordinate the relief and rescue efforts for the victims/survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

User-friendly open-source mapping tools

File:Nfgusedautoparts gps 1000x664.jpg

A car dashboard kitted out with gadgets. This is just one of a wide variety of mapping techniques. Visible here (left to right): A smartphone running OsmAnd (information and map display) and a tablet computer set up with OSMtracker (POI recording).

Interdisciplinary workshops

File:2014 Cochabamba workshop.jpg

1st “OpenStreetMap Workshop from scratch” – a free and open event that brought together artists, cartographers, marketing companies and territorial planning/computer science students as part of the activities of the HackLabCocha in Cochabamba, Bolivia. View the full set of photos.

GIS integration

File:QGIS tram lines black.png

Viewing OpenStreetMap buildings and tram data within the open source QGIS software.

Rendering data for events

File:Sochi Olympics Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster.png

The 2014 Olympics ski venues in the Krasnaya Polyana (Sochi) mountain cluster. This spontaneous mashup using Leaflet shows OpenSnowMap’s ski pistes and lifts on OpenTopoMap as baselayer on a slippy map.

Base for displaying meteorological information

File:OpenWeatherMap for Leaflet 2013-10-28 15-03-01.jpg

Wind speeds and directions of storm Christian at 28th October 2013 in Northwest Germany overlaid on an OSM base map. The leaflet-openweathermap JavaScript library shows free OpenWeatherMap data in a slippy map.

Cool-looking things

File:Lille toile.jpg

A colourful artistic map of Lille (France) with its characteristic star-shaped citadel, made using OpenStreetMap data and QGIS as described in the tutorial here.

File:20130223 DSC1072 Looking at Buildings.jpg

OSM contributor Hawkeye admiring his laser-etched acrylic map (bounding box at OSM.org) of OpenStreetMap buildings in central Glasgow, made at the MAKLab in The Lighthouse, Glasgow.

File:Softcities map leggings.jpg

OpenStreetMap leggings. A prototype on show at State Of The Map U.S. 2012 of a new product from softcities.net.


File:IMG 20120428 164740.jpg

Maps copied onto shoes (by tracing over a projector image).

Crowd-sourced mapping activity visualisation


No volcanic eruptions, no wildfires, but burning passion of OpenStreetMap volunteers – represented by a map showing the colourised node density of OpenStreetMap data. Alternative views: full world as slippy map, full world as single image (67 Mpx, 1 MiB); full world scaled down, more info how this was created.

Empower websites


Le Monde, one of the largest French newspapers, relaunched their online paid edition with interactive French maps powered by OpenStreetMap. Read more on the MapBox blog.


The University of Cambridge’s new online map was made live at http://map.cam.ac.uk in late September 2012 (and also linked from the University’s home page). This prestigious, year-long project has contributed lots of data to OSM and uses OSM data for its street index and custom renderings.

Video games

File:STK Rostock compare.jpg

Supertuxkart is a free, open-source racing game. Using 3D data from OpenStreetMap we can race around real-world street layouts, such as this suburb of Rostock.

Fun data visualisation


Taginfo shows what tags are used in the OSM database. Here, the size is correlated to the number of times the tags are use.

File:Data tiles with 32MB of OpenStreetMap data.png

This curious map of the world, shows the result of dividing the OpenStreetMap dataset into quarters until each of these vector tiles is less than 32MB in size. An experiment by Eric Fischer (details).

Decision-making in urbanism

File:Glasgow park access network.png

Map showing distance from parks in Glasgow, using openstreetmap data and GRASS/QGIS network analysis. Dark red means further away from a park.

File:Surging seas climate change New York 10ft.png

The “Surging Seas” map blends OpenStreetMap and aerial imagery to interactively simulate sea level rise due to climate change. Here we see New York after a 10ft rise, the maximum setting. The storm surge of Hurricane Sandy brought a rise of up to 13ft.



Students from Azores Islands, Portugal, visiting Germany on a training course in JOSM and QA Editor as part of the Life Long Learning Mapping Project.

File:T garmin.jpg

“Life Long Learning Mapping Project : Şeyma, Kader, Neslihan,(teachers: Manfred, Miray) Simge, Özge, Our project aims to tackle the issue of gender-stereotyping. Students from Karacabey, Turkey, learning how to use a tracking device (Garmin) to improve OSM in Turkey.”

File:UCAD team Dakar.JPG

Team from the Université Cheikh Anta Diop after a five day training course in AUF Dakar. 23 students and researchers focussed on mapping the Medina municipality of Dakar, Senegal. See the HOT blog write-up by Augustin Doury.

File:Cubbon Park OSM Map.png

Pedestrian Map for Cubbon park, Bangalore, created as part of a class project at NID. Students developed a system of navigation and wayfinding for visitors to the park. Data was collected using Walking Papers, added to OpenStreetMap, and then exported and processed in Adobe Illustrator for the final output.


Students and teachers from five countries meet in Saarburg, Germany to learn how to gather data, use mapping devices, feed in and maintain the OSM data. Meetings in Portugal, Slovenia, Romania and Turkey will follow as part of this two year EU funded Comenius project.



One of the many apps available for navigation purposes, this is a screenshot of OSMAnd on an Android phone.

Want to help?

Obviously, there are many more great things to be said about this project and the data’s many uses. If you want to help make this this great project grow, feel free to have a look at the beginner’s guide on the wiki and navigate the rest of the pages to learn more. You can also ask questions on OSM help. (With more than 7000 questions, it is likely yours is already answered!) But you can also go straight to the main website, create an account and click “edit” to contribute your local knowledge to you area’s map!

OpenBeerMap: what beers are offered nearby?

6 Aug OpenBeerMap close-up

I am a big fan of OpenStreetMap (OSM), the collaborative map of the world, in particular because of what people can create from all the information contained in that open database.

One really nice one is the OpenBeerMap project. It focuses on where a beer can be found close to you, but also what kind of beers are served (if the information was added to the database).

OpenBeerMap's website. Find the closest Karmeliet. Quick.

OpenBeerMap’s website. Find the closest Karmeliet. Quick.

Noémie (nlehuby on Github) has created a nifty website that uses that data with a nice minimalist Stamen background, integrated with Leaflet. You can share your location in your browser and find the closest bars/pubs/cafés, and if they are tagged with the “brewery” key in the OSM database, it will tell you which brands of beer they offer. You can find the sources of the website (and fork it) on its Github page, and a detailed account of the developing process on Noémie’s blog (in French).

This website is a more modern version of Open Brewpub Map, or rather complements it as it shows slightly different information: it only reveals the places that have been tagged with the “microbrewery” key, i.e. the places that produce their own craft beer.

I think that the website becomes even more useful on a smartphone. Here is the (very) easy guide to OpenBeerMap on Android.

There is no dedicated app for it yet, so head to openbeermap.github.io from your stock browser. There, you can browse the map and see information about the surrounding bars.

One great thing is that you can add information about the particular bar you are sipping a beer at, straight from the website. Just click the “add information about this bar” and you can update what beers that are available, add a new brand if it is not listed already, confirm WiFi availability and fill in the opening hours and even the happy hours to help your fellow cerevisaphiles! (Although for the moment the two hour fields are greyed out because, according to Noémie – and I can confirm that! –, the formatting for the OSM tags related to time are a bit tricky to get right.) Note that your edits will be credited to the user account OpenBeerMapContributor, and not yours. If you want your contribution to be credited to you, you can always use the link “éditer directement dans OpenStreetMap”.

Node modified via OpenBeerMap

Node modified via OpenBeerMap

To make it easier to access it on your phone, bookmark the website and select “Add to home screen” in order to create a launcher (see pictures below). It will even have a nice maß icon.

Another way to do it is to use Firefox to visit the Firefox Marketplace and get the OpenBeerMap app, for a more native experience (launcher, updates and uninstalling all work). And if you are on Firefox OS, go straight to the Marketplace to find it!

One known issue with the website is that it will only show nodes, and not the polygons that have the right tags. Another problem is that, as the website looks for places tagges as pubs, bars and café, even the ones not tagged with the “brewery” key, the beer glass icon does not necessarily mean that you will find beer there: you might just be able to have a cup of tea instead.

Now, hopefully this new website will attract more information to the database. At the time of writing, only 1883 objects are tagged with the “brewery” key. Contributing to the database will make it more useful for everyone. And give you a good excuse to drink more beers.


Edit: This article was edited on the 11th of August 2014 to integrate the comment I got from Matthias Ämmm on Diaspora (about Open Brewpub Map) and the comments from Noémie herself (about the actual map background and the Firefox integration). Thanks guys!

How to contribute to OpenStreetMap without editing the map?

2 May

OpenStreetMap  (OSM) is an amazing project that aims at building an open geographical database of the whole world. It started in 2004, and the project offers now a very rich and usable database for everyone to enjoy and use, as many different websites do to offer services (nautical map, bike itineraries, map of the nuclear facilities in the world – you name it).

Even though it is very easy to start editing the map and adding, for example, your own house, some people just want to point out that there is something missing or an error somewhere.

This was made possible by OpenStreetBugs, a separate website that lets people add comments on the map.

However, as I read three days ago, the main website now offers the same option, which is a very welcome addition to it. Here is how to use the new built-in note function.

The few easiest steps you will ever take

Head to this link to reach the main OSM portal.

Now, you can see (yes, look harder!) in the bottom right-hand corner a little “Add a note” link.

OSM main page

See the link at the bottom right? I zoomed it for you. I’m nice.

Find on the map the place where you noticed an error, and click the link.  You can now drag and drop the green cross symbol at the right place, and enter a precise description of the issue.

Insert a note in OSM

Click the link, move the green cross and describe the error.

You can now confirm by clicking “Add note” and let people see your contribution.

For the moment, users can see the notes mainly by using the main website and ticking the “Browse notes” box that is available in the layer picker (the stacked squares in the top right-hand corner).

OSM's layer picker menu

This is how you can reveal the notes contributors added on the map.

By clicking on the note, they can see the description and also comment on it if they feel like it. If you have an OSM account, and you were logged in at the time of writing it, you will get a notification if someone interacts with it.

Comment on a note in OSM

OK, this is NOT a valid comment. Please be constructive.

After that, people can fix the problems you pointed out in the database.

Adding the "Give Way" sign with JOSM

Here, the user is using the software JOSM to add the missing “Give Way” sign.

Adding a "Give Way" sign in Potlatch 2

And here, doing the same with OSM’s website’s built-in editor, Potlatch 2.

After that, the registered user who fixed it can head to the website and mark the note as “resolved”.

Resolve a note on OSM

The registered user marks the note as resolved, and can comment on it too. A little “Thank you” is always very much appreciated!

A resolved note on OSM

The note then shows the “resolved” blue icon.

There you go! Hopefully you can use this wonderful map more often, and give us a hand by pointing out the odd error!

You can also learn more about this new feature on OSM’s wiki.