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:{z}/{x}/{y}.png?origin=nw

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



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

See and

As part of the move I’ve updated the 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 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 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 Donation Drive

umap_screenshotDear friends of OpenStreetMap and SOSM

As you may know, SOSM provides a range of services for the Swiss OpenStreetMap community. Currently this is financed for a major part out of our regular membership fees, this however limits some aspects of our operations quite considerably. All services are currently run on a single, small leased server in Germany.

In 2015 we would like to

  • move all services to a hosting location in Switzerland
  • provide better performing and redundant hardware for our most popular services (map tiles, uMap and routing)
  • expand our OSM data and imagery hosting offerings (for example the current imagery covering the Canton Aargau)

While we have the prospect of a number of in-kind donations to support the above, more on that soon, there is still the need for additional funds to cover cash outlays. Example: while we have a computer hardware donation arranged, the hardware will have to be imported and VAT on its value paid, just this single item would be substantially outside of SOSMs current annual budget.

To support the plans for this year SOSM board has therefore decided to explicitly ask for donations to SOSM in 2015 with the goal of collecting at least CHF 5000 over the course of the year.

Donations can made to

Postfinance account
IBAN CH54 0900 0000 8505 3542 9

Swiss OpenStreetMap Association
Heitersbergstrasse 1
8962 Bergdietikon

Please note 2015 DONATION DRIVE on the payment. By default we will be publishing the names of all donors, if you don’t want to be mentioned, please add that either to you payment information or send mail to

High Resolution Aerial Imagery from the City of Zürich


A couple of weeks back the city of Zürich expanded the available layers on its public WMS server to include areal imagery of the city from multiple years. Of particular interest to us is the 2011 data which is clearly superior to what has been available up to now and is a lot better georeferenced. This will allow us to address some of the issues we have in central Zürich and is a huge leap forward from the Bing/Yahoo imagery we’ve had until now.

We hope that this sets yet another example for other Swiss cities and cantons, to open up their WMS servers. SOSM will continue to negotiate with other cantons and cities (see for progress).

Many thanks to the GIS office of Zürich!

Using the imagery in your editor

For JOSM users the WMS server can be queried with

For P2 and iD users we have added the layer to our mapproxy configuration and it can be accessed (with placeholders) with:




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., the Swiss OpenData Association, supports our position.

Updated Street Name Completeness Statistics

Just over a year ago I started running daily street name completeness checks for Switzerland based on a list of street names by municipality generated out of the federal “Gebäude und Wohnungsregister” (GWR), see my original article for more information and for the daily updates.

For technical reasons I decided to move the contents to a new server late December and during the process I’ve made a couple of updates and changes that need some explaining. On the one hand I’ve updated the GWR list to the December 2013 one on the other hand I’ve somewhat changed the logic of the road (contrary to other object types with names) statistic generation. One of the more annoying trends in the GWR list is that more and more municipalities are no longer correctly filing the object type in their submissions and are either using “unknown” or leaving the field empty (which I map to “none” in my statistics”), despite the large amount of building going on, the number has actually gone down in absolute terms by roughly 500 over the year 2013. This naturally makes the data substantially less useful for us, and I would go as far as saying it makes the data less useful for its primary purpose too.

However it is clearly not our job to discipline such behaviour, we just want as good as possible estimates of how many named streets there actually are. To achieve that I’ve now added some heuristics to take this undesirable behaviour in to account:

  • assume that if a GWR object has either no geometry type or “unknown” and the corresponding OSM object is a road, it should have been a road in the GWR too.
  • if there are no roads at all for the municipality in question in the GWR and OSM has roads as described above, add all the relevant GWR objects to the GWR road count.

The GWR numbers reported are corrected correspondingly. As of today this reduced the object count for “unknown” by 8’374 and for no object type by 4’438, adding a total of 12’812 to the GWR road count. For continuity and documentation purposes the old statistics are still calculated daily and are still available.

More interesting than the above changes is how much progress we have made over the past year. In the following table non-road objects are summarised in one number.

GWR 2012-06-01 OSM 2012-11-01 % GWR 2013-12-01 OSM 2013-12-27 %
Roads (old) 104’150 62’258 60% 103’606 74’969 72%
Roads (new) 117’598 87’759 75%
Other (old) 77’316 14’101 18% 78’284 21’414 27%
Other (new) 64’292 8’598 13%

As can be seen from the above we managed to add 20’024 names in just over a year, confirming that we should have as good as possible coverage of street names latest in two years.

To conclude, and most impressive, a map from early 2013, and current versions using the old and new logic

January 2013

December 2013 Old

December 2013 New


Skiing Vacation, Street Names and all that

Since the beginning of November 2012 I have been running statistics on how OSM data compares to “official” sources. The results can be seen  a wiki page with some more information is available here.

The official numbers as of December 2012 contain 108’271 road names, 2’684 named nodes, 27’339 areas and a total of 52’211 of objects that were not classified by the muncipality collecting the data. Overall this amounts to 190’000 named features.

The Swiss OSM extract as of January the 10th 2013 contained 115’940 named streets, 5’053 areas and  9’674 nodes tagged with “place” and a name. The comparision just on a number base looks quite good, however actual matches are only 84’162  in total as of today, which is less than 50%. Just considering the streets we find 67’125 matches which is  61%.

The good news is that in the roughly 10 weeks the statistics have been running, we increased  the street matches by 3’556 and the total by 5’783. This indicates that we should have all roads covered in latest two years. I actually suspect that the coverage increase will be far larger in the summer months and that we will be able to acheive very good coverage far earlier.

Achieving rapid progress on non-road objects is however going to be difficult. Most of these are not sign posted and publicly available information for verification or a possible import seems to be limited to a proprietary dataset owned by the Swiss Post and the GWR address data. Both can be purchased at considerable expense, the later however has very restrictive usage terms. Essentially Swiss Topo has been granted a monopoly on all non-internal use. It is strange that in the age of the OpenData movement that this would still be possible (the legislation is quite recent), but I suspect that it will be very hard to change.

A good example of the difficulties is the small mountain village Ftan where we customarily spend our annual skiing vacation.

Essentially none of the roads have road signs, nor do they actually have names. The full addresses use a “quarter” name in place of a street name. As can be seen from the list produced by my statistics (original file: current version: switch to the Mapquest Open map on the OSM site to see what was actually added) nearly all the missing features are not roads, that dosen’t stop Google showing street names (google maps) where there aren’t any.

Surveying such data is going to take time, it implies using local knowledge and other clues available on the ground. It will be interesting to see how much can be gathered in the week I will be on site and how we progress with the multitude of similar settlements over the next months.



10’000 km of Ways added in 10 Months – New OSM Road Length Statistics for Switzerland

The last numbers on development of the OSM coverage in Switzerland were from early 2012. Since then we have had on the one hand the licence change process with a small corresponding loss of data, and on the other hand quite a lot of interest in the project as a whole. So I beleive an update is in order. While I didn’t use quite the same methodology as the previous numbers presented in the wiki here, they seem close enough to be comparable.

The statistics show an increase of a total of at least 10’000 km from 142’000 km at the beginning of the year to 152’000 km now. This without taking a further 8’000 km of “service” roads in to account that were not listed separately in previous statistics. As would be expected the length of all roads with higher classification does not show much movement, a clear indication that the major road network is very complete.

The low number for the length of combined footway/cycleway would seem to indicate that we are mistagging the most frequent occurring type of Switzerland. What is further slightly surprising is that we have mapped a combined length of 1500 km of driveways and parking aisles, this would seem to be an awful lot compared to roughly 1300 km of cycleways.

Detailed Numbers

OSM classification length (km) length (km)
motorway 1’505 50% of the length of one-way segments 3’003 one-way segments counted fully
motorway_link 333 665  “
trunk 361 511  “
trunk_link 50 95  “
motorway + trunk 2’249 4’274
primary 4’798 includes _link
secondary 5’450
tertiary 10’919
unclassified 16’539
residential 23’576
service 6’590 service=alley and unspecified
driveway 720 service=driveway
parking aisle 782 service=parking_aisle
track 12’254 tracktype unspecified, neither foot or bicycle = designated
track grade 1 9’461 neither foot or bicycle = designated
track grade 2 17’220
track grade 3 9’588
track grade 4 2’627
track grade 5 1’733
track total 52’883
path 19’183 neither foot or bicycle = designated
pedstrian 327
footway 6’506 plus path and track with foot=designated
cycleway 1’078 plus path and track with bicyle=designated
combined cycleway / footway 250 track, path, cycleway and footway either with explicit or implicit designated values for foot and bicycle
Total 152’373