Archive for the ‘openstreetmap’ Category

Denver Day 3, hiking

Posted: September 13, 2011 in openstreetmap
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Monday was an off day for me. FOSS4G has started but is running workshops on Monday and Tuesday. I decided not to signup for any workshops and instead played tourist. The plan for Monday had been to catch a lift to Rocky Mountain National park with a few OSM’ers who were going to be staying overnight near the park. I was going to get a ride back to Denver with another OSMer who had a car.

The thing about plans is that they rarely work as planned. My lift back to Denver had to cancel so I rented my own car intending to meet up with the other OSMers at the park. We never did get never sync’d up so instead I hiked on my own up to Emerald lake, about a 6km round trip hike. The landscape combined with smell of fresh pine was very nice. The terrain reminded me of Banff National park in Canada. The trail I choose is pretty popular (I don’t think I was ever out of eyesight of another hiker for more than a few minutes). The trail was also already well mapped.

After my hike I ventured into the town of Estes Park for lunch. Estes park is a tourist town with a main street that consists of t-shirt shops, candy stores and restaurants. I expected that other OSMers had been through the town mapping earlier in the week but some POI’s might have been missed. I collected a random sampling of tourist centric businesses in the town. Unfortunately my GPS wasn’t recording a GPX trace and I only have the waypoints I captured and my photos. To my surprise (well if I think about it then it makes sense) JOSM can’t sync photos up with GPX waypoints only a trace. This means I will need to come up with a way of converting my collection of waypoints into a track before I can add most of what I captured. It also appears that OSMers were less busy in Estes Park this past week than I was expecting.

Monday night grabbed a seat at the bar in Kattie Mullen’s, a pub attached to the conference hotel, and it didn’t take long for few of the FOSS4G folks at the bar to introduce ourselves and start up a conversation.

I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon sitting outside the conference rooms at the Sheraton surrounded by geo people working on laptops and talking about feature ideas to there respective open-source projects.

Saturday was my first full day in Denver for the OpenStreetMap State Of The Map conference. A few years ago I presented a talk at PGCon on OpenStreetMap. I have now returned the favour and presented a PostgreSQL talk (What’s new in PostgreSQL 9.1) at an OpenStreetMap conference.


Denver, Day 0

Posted: September 10, 2011 in openstreetmap
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Friday morning I woke up and got an early start to my workday so I could get a full days work in before leaving for Denver. I did not get a Slony release packaged on Friday but Chris might get to this early next week.

The cab ride, checkin, and US customs (you clear US customs in Toronto before departure) were mostly un-noteworthy. There were no big delays or holdsups at Airport security, I was directed into a line for a scanner that was shared with an Air Crew line and a large (5 people?) United crew skipped in ahead of me. One of them apologized (but didn’t offer to wait their turn in line) she said she was based out of Denver and that they were flying to Chicago. The weather was rainy when she left Denver. I also noticed that the million+ dollar full body airport scanners were sitting in the middle of the room unused (Sept 9, 2011).

The flight to Denver was pretty un-noteworthy, clear skies with some light chop at times. United Express is a bit behind the times and hasn’t upgraded their planes to include laptop power. On arrival at Denver we sat at the gate for about 5 minutes as they tried to get the gate to move (so it would line up with the airplane door). They almost resorted to having to push the airplane into position. It sounded like rebooting the gate helped, isn’t technology great.

In Denver I am staying at the Sheraton which is hosting FOSS4G. The hotel seems nice but the rooms don’t have a fridge. They have a box that looks like a fridge, enough so that I went out and bought a jug of orange juice for the week only to discover that the fridge looking box is am empty. Bye-bye warm Orange juice.

After checking in and getting a feel for the area it was a little after 10pm local (midnight eastern) and I noticed many restaurants were starting to close. I went on a hunt for a small dinner. I found Wild Bangkok a Thai place that was still open. When I walked in I was greeted by a guy who wasn’t really dressed like a waiter but he took me to a seat at the bar, handed me a menu, told me how this was really authentic thai and stood there talking to me as I looked through the menu. On each page of the menu he said that the restaraunts specialty was something else, first page seafood, second page curries, third page bowls. I finally ordered a Bangkok bowl with tofu, mostly because I didn’t want to examine the menu more closely with this guy staring at me. As far as Thai food goes it was okay but nothing special. Later I noticed the ‘waiter’ sitting at a table being served drinks. A bartender in a uniform served me my food and gave me my bill.

I am now (Saturday morning) going to try to find my way to the SOTM conference site.

Yesterday (It is still the 10’th in my timezone) was my 3rd OSM birthday. Pascal Neis has built a site that shows you your OSM signup is anniversary and how you rank (in terms of signup time) with respect to other OSM contributors that have made an edits.

I am contributor 17,540 (out of about 143,000 and growing).

In the summer of 2008 I bought an Openmoko Freerunner, an open cellphone running Linux (with xterms and vi). The phone includes a GPS, I needed a source of map data for it to be useful. The first GPS application that I installed (tangogps) used OpenStreetMap tiles. The OpenStreetMap was missing many streets in Oakville and it wasn’t long before I was taking summer walks with my Openmoko and notepad collecting data for OpenStreetMap.

A little over a month later on a friday night I drove to a cafe in Hamilton where I nervously climbed up a set of creeky old stairs. I walked into a dark room illuminated by an overhead project and laptop LCD backlight. The room was filled with a handful of people sitting around a table. Glancing at the people in the room I was pretty sure that I hadn’t just walked into a meeting of the local chamber of commerce, which was fine since I was attending my first OpenStreetMap mapping party and not my first chamber of commerce meeting.

During the evening and the mapping party the next day I met some interesting people, learned some new mapping techniques and made it out to do some mapping. The trend of meeting cool people and learning new things (and not just about OSM), has continued for the past three years.

During the past three years in addition making friends and attending mapping parties I have

  • Conducted an import of GeoBase roads in Alberta and Ontario. I am proud of and happy with both the process we used for the import and the results of it. The imported roads aren’t perfect ( no map is ever perfect) but resulting map is a lot more than the map we had before
  • Given presentations on OpenStreetMap at a number of conferences
  • Seen looks of delight on peoples faces when I’ve handed them a free ledger sized colour map of there local area made with OpenStreetMap data
  • Perhaps made a few enemies along the way

I’m looking forward to meeting more mappers next month in Denver at StateOfTheMap and many more years of mapping.

Over the past few months I have been watching the reaction people have when I have introduced them to OpenStreetMap. I have noticed a number trends worth commenting on.

Describing OpenStreetMap as a free wiki-editable map doesn’t excite them. The problem is that when most people think about an online map they picture a slippery map, and google maps is free enough for them. When I tell them that OpenStreetMap is like the wikipedia of maps they seem to understand what I am talking about. Typically, these are people who have used wikipedia to look something up, but have never seriously considered editing an article. To most people wikipedia is a free source of information on a wide variety of topics. The ability to edit and contribute to those articles isn’t at the front of their mind.

Peninsula Lake, June 2011

The June 2011 version of the Peninsula lake map is ready. You can download a PDF or get the SVG and the map styles from github

This version includes more buildings, docks and rocks traced into OpenStreetMap from Bing imagery along with a few bay names and some cleaner text. My next step is to try and collect depth data in some areas the that the Hydrological service skipped. I’ve already been out in a kayak with a weighted container and rope trying to develop techniques.

I’m planning on attending two conferences this September in Denver. The first conference is the annual OpenStreetMap State Of The Map‘ September 9-11. This year will mark the first time since I’ve been involved with OpenStreetMap that the main State Of The Map conference has been held in North America. I am looking forward to putting faces to names and meeting lots of awsome mappers. I might be giving a talk on new features in PostgreSQL 9.1 at the conference but they haven’t yet accepted talks or announced the schedule.

Following State Of the Map I will be hanging around in Denver for FOSS4G 2011 (September 12-16). FOSS4G is the annual conference for open source geo-spatial software. I will be giving a talk on ‘PostGIS replication‘ where I will give an overview of built in replication and Slony. My blog post comparing Slony and 9.0 replication is by far the most popular post on this blog, and the talk will expand on that material.

They are expecting about 1000 people to attend FOSS4G this year. I am expecting there to be a lot of maps and talk about maps. In addition to my talk there are many other PostGIS/PostgreSQL talks on the schedule. If your going to be attending a conference related to databases this September what better place to be than Denver? The early registration discounts end on June 30’th so remember to register before the price goes up

Tonight, I gave a short talk at OpenData, Waterloo Region on ‘Consuming & Presenting OSM Data‘. A discussion on how to use OSM data followed. The audience had a range of OSM experience. Some people had heard of OSM but never used it, a few people had used the data in applications or while traveling and some experienced mappers were also in attendance. The talk was geared to give an introduction to drive an informal discussion/Q&A versus as a ‘how to’ tutorial.

The meetup was held at ‘Mitsy Mountain Coffee‘. Mitsy Mountain is a spacious coffee shop that has room at the back with a meeting table and large screen that can be used by groups such as ours for meetings. Mitsy wasn’t around when I moved out of Waterloo, but seems like a nice place and is worth visiting again the next time I’m in KW.

My slides from the talk are available here

An OpenStreetMap ‘cake’ is a map, used for a mapping party, where the map is divided into ‘cake slices’. Each slice of the cake is assigned to a mapper who will map it during the mapping party. By dividing an area into cake slices you can avoid mappers duplicating effort.

cake-maker is a script I wrote that uses Mapnik to take an .OSM file containing cake boundaries and produces one map file centered and zoomed to each cake slice.


Yesterday I attended a meeting of SiliconHalton, a technology group in Halton region. The topic of the meeting was OpenData.

Nik Garkusha, an Open Source strategy lead at Microsoft was gave a really good presentation on what open data is, and why it is important. Based on the quality of Nik’s presentation I suspect that he often gives presentations on Open Data. I particularly liked that he started the presentation talking about how OpenStreetMap was used in Haiti after the earthquake and how crowd sourcing projects are mapping the floods in Quebec and Manitoba.

There were about 30 people in the room and most of them were not ‘opensource’ people. I hope some of them left having a better understanding of open data.

I was also talking to someone who works in the I.T. department of one of the local municipalities. He was saying that they were talking about releasing more of their data under open licenses but are worried about losing revenue. He said they currently charge land developers a lot money for some of the data. As open data advocates, I feel we need to convince these municipalities that the things that can be done by the public when the data is opened outweights the relatively small amount of money they collect selling this data.