Traffic Sign Project

Project lead: Joost Schouppe, Ivan Diaz

Samenscholingsverbod_Doel.jpeg A traffic sign that has an OpenStreetMap on it

In Flanders, all traffic signs are open data. This information is hugely useful. Well, it could be. Most of the traffic signs date from several years back and have not been updated since. The Flemish project intends to change that. Municipality by municipality, we see updates starting to happen. Several of them have done a complete update, or at least do occasional additions.

In a perfect world, when the municipality decides to change a traffic situation (a new speed limit, a new one-way restriction,…), they start to work in this database. First there’s a planned sign. Then when it is installed, it becomes a real sign. The real sign is offered to the OSM mapping community (and Waze, TomTom, Here, …) and they add the info to the affected street - almost in real time.

We’re not quite there just yet, but the edits in the database that do happen are still useful. Obviously because it makes for a better map. Less obviously because it saves everyone a lot of time. We often get a mail from municipalities: “hey, we have changed reality, can you now change your map”. We want to be able to say: “oh we know, we already updated it!””

So we’re building on a tool in good Road Completion tradition to make sure that if the government provides the data, we can guarantee that we’ll be up to date. This in turn might be a little incentive for more municipalities to keep their bit of the database online. Just like in Road Completion, we “accidentally review” the government data as well. When we map traffic signs, we spot errors. Often user error, sometimes logical errors. These can then help municipalities to improve their data quality or even local reality. OSM data users will be able to see how well we keep track of new traffic signs - they won’t have to trust us on our word that the data is good.

Brighter means updated after 2019 Traffic signs in Flanders: highlighted are from 2019 and more recent

In practice

We have a MapRoulette task online that is updated periodically. This task simply offers the most recent traffic signs as microtasks: the challenge is to map their effects.

How do we do that:

The code is available on Github. You can post issues there. A first proof of concept was built by Joost Schouppe. Ivan Diaz from TomTom rebuilt the entire workflow in Python and prepared a weekflow to ultimately run weekly updates completely automatically.

What’s next

Project key events