Mapper of the Month: Andrew Harvey (Australia)

- escada

Please introduce yourself

I’m Andrew Harvey, living in Sydney. I work in geospatial IT, so I’m lucky enough to work with OSM in my day job. I enjoy the outdoors and keeping active so do a fair bit of running, cycling, swimming, bushwalking and kayaking.

Syndney OpenTopoMap

When and how did you discover OpenStreetMap ?

It was while I was at uni, at a time when I was discovering open source software and Creative Commons licensing.

What do you map ?

I try to have a go at mapping all types of features, even after being on OSM for 8 years now I’m still learning about and using new tags.

How do you map

I’ve done both, but mostly I map places I’m already passing through or visiting on the ground.

Which tools do you use

It usually involves some combination of OSMTracker for Android to record a GPS trace, for adding notes for myself to follow up on, where possible I try to collect imagery and upload it to Mapillary. Later on I’ll input that data on a computer using JOSM and iD.

In my early mapping days I’d use pen and paper to collect information as that’s all the hardware I had.

I’ve only recently starting to do the Mapillary step, I feel it’s becoming more important and relevant, as OpenStreetMap grows we reach a point where backing up your change with verifiable evidence makes OpenStreetMap more reliable.

I prefer the JOSM editor for power, but use iD sometimes to make a simple quick change (it opens faster than JOSM!).

As a mapper I feel the OpenStreetMap QA tools are too fragmented. There are dozens in existence, ImproveOSM, Osmose, Maproulette, StreetComplete, and many more. I understand why they are fragmented and I appreciate all the work that has gone into them. They do help improve the quality of OpenStreetMap. That said I think more collaboration by those who produce QA tools would result in local mappers being able to address the issues they flag even better. Something like a debug tab on OpenStreetMap with everything would be nice.

How do you conduct your surveys ?

It’s mostly just where I’m already passing by.

Where do you map ?

Locally. I feel local mapping produces the best map. Local in the sense that the mapper is physically close to what they are mapping but also close to the type of object. So a cyclist who rides along a route everyday is the best person to map the cycle infrastructure for that route. That’s the perfect world where we have many more OSM mappers, so I accept we can shortcut this with other sources to speed things up.

What is your biggest achievement as mapper ?

When things on the ground change simply getting those changes into OSM, sometimes the same day as the physical change is the greatest achievement I can have.

Why do yo map ? What motivates you ?

Mostly it makes me happier in life knowing I’m contributing something to society. Being under an open license is critical as it maximises the effect and lifespan of my contribution.

What is the most difficult part of mapping ?

The most frustrating part of mapping is when I can’t add some important details due to the tags not being there or well defined enough. I appreciate devising new tagging schemes and documenting existing ones is a lot of work, especially to get something that works globally in a range of contexts.

Do you have contact with other mappers ?

Not really, but I’m trying to organise a local gathering in Sydney, and very excited that a regional SOTM is being planned for Australia later this year.

Do you use OpenStreetMap yourself ? How ?

Absolutely, I use OpenStreetMap data daily.

I have a side project that lists bushwalks around Sydney which uses OpenStreetMap data. For we subjectively determined good walking routes, built up from path segments in OpenStreetMap.

There are a lot of people helping out OpenStreetMap in ways other than mapping which is incredibly valuable to the project. In my day job, I help companies, government and other organisations use OpenStreetMap. The more people we have using OpenStreetMap data the better.