About Simon

Simon is the current SOSM president http://sosm.ch/about/board/simon-poole/

SOSM is now an OSMF Local Chapter

When we founded SOSM in June 2012 one of the topics was if we should aspire to becoming a formal local chapter of the OSMF. At the time it wasn’t urgent since the OSMF hadn’t actually finalised a template agreement or actually accepted a local chapter, it took nearly another 3 years for the first chapter to be admitted (Iceland early in 2015).

In 2012 and every time we had discussed the matter at an AGM the SOSM board had made clear that we would hold a members vote when the time was ripe and that took place at our AGM in April of this year. Still even with the approval of our members it has taken us another 5 months to actually get the agreement signed at the global State of the Map conference last week.


We don’t expect any drastic change with this step, however given that so much of our work deals with government offices, political and other advocacy groups, having “official” status cannot hurt. The other part of the equation is that the agreement gives us a formal licence to use OpenStreetMap and other related trademarks in Switzerland.

Looking forward we expect to see more collaboration with other local chapters going forward and expect them to grow in importance as stakeholders in the project.

Building Addresses Canton Berne

As you may remember early this year we got permission to use the open address data from the Canton Berne in OpenStreetMap, this after a couple of years back and forth due to the new cantonal legislation and older usage terms that sounded as if the data might be usable but in reality didn’t allow it.

The address data is available from the cantonal open data portal however it is rather unwieldly (a good 400’000 addresses) and problematic to handle even in JOSM. I foolhardly promised to do something about that at the time, but didn’t get around to doing anything up to now. It should be noted that nobody has stepped forward and volunteered to organize an import of any kind, so my focus is simply proving it as reference data that can be used at a small-scale.

While my current solution is not perfect and will likely see improvements over time (for example the layer is currently opaque), it is probably  the best solution for now. I’ve produced a background layer from the data that shows

  • usage
  • house
  • street/place



To reduce clutter I’ve shortened some of the usage strings:

  • Wohnhaus – WH
  • Bauernhaus – BH
  • Garage – G
  • Scheune – S
  • Gebäude – B

The data is hosted on sourcepoles QGIS Cloud system, many thanks to Marco and his team for supporting us. To make things simpler for iD users and work around some issues JOSM has with WMS servers we actually proxy this through our mapproxy instance.

The relevant tile URL is:


Please add a clear indication of the source in your changesets if you use this data.

Translating osm.ch


Thanks to efforts of Michael (datendelphin) the move of the SOSM
provided services to the new SOSM servers in Bern is nearly complete.

See http://sosm.ch/wikimedia-donates-old-toolservers-to-sosm/ and

As part of the move I’ve updated the osm.ch portal a bit and added the
ability to pull translations from transifex. Up to now the portal was
only in German, I’ve added an English version leaving French, Italian
and Romansh to do.

The transifex project can be found here

Given that there are currently only 43 strings, I fully expect that we
will have the missing three languages covered tomorrow :-).

On a more serious note we are always looking for people that can help
with the translation of content on sosm.ch which is currently
predominantly German and English. If you want to help send us a mail to

Update: translations for all aditional languages were done by Friday the 24th of April!

Just 20’000 left to go …

Two years and a couple of months back I started running daily street name completeness checks for Switzerland. See my original article for more information, information on the changes for 2014 (this article points out some of the quality issues with the GWR) and http://qa.poole.ch/ch-roads/ for the daily updates.

On the 12th of March we passed the 100’000 street name mark implying that in 27 months we have added nearly 40’000 names that were previously missing or unverified, leaving roughly 20’000 to go.

GWR 2014-12-01* OSM 2012-11-01 OSM 2013-12-27 OSM 2015-03-12 %
Roads 121’041 62’258 87’759 100’012 83%
Other 63’673 14’101 8’598 12’465 20%

* the GWR values are corrected for the issues discussed in the December 2013 blog post and are not the raw numbers. This is the reason for the decrease in numbers of non-road objects.

Naturally I do not expect to reach the 100% mark any time soon. There is quite a high number of municipalities that do not sign post their roads, making independent verification very difficult to impossible (this is not the same as not having street names in the first place which is not a problem) and naturally these places don’t tend to be where hot spots of OSM contributors are. On the other hand there is still a lot of very low hanging fruit which simply needs verification. Low hanging in this case means that the roads in question can already be found in OSM, but there are simply spelling differences that we need to investigate (see the original article on how to handle differences between the GWR and reality).

Please don’t forget the 2015 SOSM Donation Drive to enable us to continue to operate this and other services.


March 2015

December 2013

January 2013


2015 SOSM AGM and Mapping Party, Saturday April 18th 2015 (Updated March 18th)

SOSM  will be holding its 2015 AGM in Bienne/Biel, 11:00 at the Lago Lodge . We intend to follow the same format as previous years: short formal part, lunch and then some mapping. Agenda and venue will be announced by mid March.

Non-SOSM members are welcome, if you want to attend the meeting and/or lunch please send mail to info@sosm.ch since space is likely to be limited.

MapProxy Service Update

We’ve updated the imagery available via the SOSM mapproxy service to include more recent imagery for Solothurn and the recently releast imagery for the city of Berne. The imagery for the canton Solothurn is a mosaic of imagery between 2011 and 2014 provided by the cantonal GIS office SOGIS, replacing the old 2007 and 2011 orthophotos.

Together with the new AGIS imagery, the above has been added to the central OSM imagery index and should be available in iD, P2 and vespucci soon.

If you can’t wait, the imagery is available via the following pseudo URLs:






Updated Aerial Imagery for the Canton Aargau


As already indicated on the Swiss OSM mailing list SOSM has obtained the most recent imagery from the cantonal GIS office of the canton Aargau (AGIS). The imagery was recorded in July 2014 which on the one hand makes it very current, on the other implies that there is more foliage visible than on the 2011 imagery.

The imagery is available with the following pseudo URL for entry in OSM editors


I’ll be adding the configuration to the central imagery repositories as soon as possible.

The tiles from this imagery were produced slightly differently than the previous ones with not quite satisfactory results from a visual point of view. It is possible that I might rerun the tiling later once we have some feedback.

SOSM will be running a donation drive soon to cover the costs of the imagery and a build out of our services, however please feel free to donate now (account details, please indicate if mentioning your name is allowed), your support if very much appreciated.

A thank you to the Hochschule Rapperswil and Stefan Keller for helping us with actually uploading the 190GB of data to the SOSM server.

uMap Tips and Tricks – 1 – Hide the “Edit”-Pencil

This is the start of a likely infrequent and irregular series of posts on stuff that I found out using uMap.

Hide the “Edit”-Pencil

One of the more annoying things about uMap is that there is no obvious way to hide the edit pencil on a full screen map. While only users that you have allowed can actually change  your map configuration, it just isn’t good design to have a control element that just frustrates your users.

The solution: add “allowEdit=0” to the URL as for example below:



Answer to the “Vernehmlassung” for the new Geo-Information Law of the Canton of Berne

One of the lesser known aspects of the Swiss democratic system is the instrument of the “Vernehmlassung”, a formalized call for comments by interested and affected parties on draft laws before they go in to the parliamentary process and debate. The Canton of Berne is implementing new regulations on geo-information and related sovereign duties to be compatible with the equivalent legislation at a federal level and issued such a call for comments late last year.

The tl;dr gist of our answer is that the law should as a principle allow free access to the cantonal geo-data and do so on terms defined in a suitable well-known licence (CC0, PDDL or similar) reversing what is suggested in the current draft legislation. Further we have suggested that any fees for access to the data be based on marginal costs for the distribution.

Our full answer can be found here Kanton Bern geoinf Vernehmlassung. Opendata.ch, the Swiss OpenData Association, supports our position.

How many mappers are there in Switzerland?

At the last SOSM board meeting we had a short discussion about membership levels and what kind of numbers that we should expect. The discussion led to two actions, on the one hand we decided that we would, as an experiment, mail all new contributors with a short welcome mail, and on the other hand it piqued my curiosity how many contributors we have historically had and what the current growth rates are (having the numbers handy tends to help when talking to the media too).

The last time I generated overall contributor numbers for Switzerland was a good two years ago and was then at over 6’000, the current number is just over 9’000. The value was generated from a full history extract of Switzerland from November 2013,  further inspection of the extract shows that the oldest node in Switzerland was added on August the 15th, 2005. There may have been older anonymous contributions or contributions that were removed during the licence change, but this is the best date we have. This would indicate a growth rate of over 1’000 contributors per year, this number seems to be further supported by the 104 welcome mails we have sent to new mappers over the last 4 weeks.

Naturally Switzerland has a certain influx of non-domestic mappers, on the one hand due to neighbouring countries with strong OSM communities, on the other hand due to its popularity as a tourist destination. But as we know from a pure count point of view, larger, mobile mappers are a small minority and shouldn’t effect the above numbers significantly.