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


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 http://sosm.ch/projects/cantonal-aerial-imagery/ 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:

P2: http://mapproxy.sosm.ch:8080/tiles/zh_luftbild2011/EPSG900913/$z/$x/$y.png?origin=nw

iD: http://mapproxy.sosm.ch:8080/tiles/zh_luftbild2011/EPSG900913/{z}/{x}/{y}.png?origin=nw


uMap Instance for Switzerland

It has been a long time in the making, but at last, we are happy to announce that a SOSM hosted uMap instance is available: umap.osm.ch .

uMap allows you to create hosted map configurations that contain base maps, data sources and manual annotations.

An example of what can be done with very little effort: the “Swiss style” map with car sharing locations queried from the Overpass API.

See full screen

While the data displayed in the example is static, the same can be done with a direct query of the OverPass API or similar sources. Data that is limited to Switzerland can be retrieved from the SOSM Overpass service, and to make that a bit easier we now have a local Overpass Turbo instance.

To create your own map on umap.osm.ch you simply need an account on www.openstreetmap.org and allow umap.osm.ch access to it.

A special thank you to Sarah for setting up the system for us and to Yohan Boniface for developing uMap.

Mapping Party Burgdorf April 5th 13:30

burgdorfAs already announced we will be going out and mapping after the SOSM AGM on Saturday and after we have had lunch (please feel free to join us for that too).

Meeting location: Restaurant Schützenhaus, Wynigenstrasse 13, Burgdorf

Burgdorf itself is fairly well mapped with only a few roads missing and a handful of name spellings that need to be verified http://qa.poole.ch/ch-roads/BE/404.html . However the surroundings, in particular Kirchberg are fairly undermapped. Kirchberg can easily be reached by Bus, the rest of the villages likely will require a bicycle or other means of transport.

Rough schedule:

  • Meetup 13:30
  • Mapping starts 14:00
  • Back at Restaurant 16:00
  • Data entry etc.
  • Dinner roughly 18:00 (for those that choose to stay)


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.

SOSM 2014 Annual General Meeting

The 2014 Annual General Meeting of the Swiss OpenStreetMap Association which will take place on Saturday, April 5th 2014, 11am in the Restaurant Schützenhaus, Wynigenstrasse 13, Burgdorf

[mapsmarker marker=”1″]

You will find the full agenda here.

After the meeting there will be an informal lunch and a mapping party. If you already know that you will be attending, could you please indicate so for planning purposes by e-mail to info@sosm.ch

We hope to see many of you in Burgdorf.

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.

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 http://qa.poole.ch/ch-roads/ 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


23’000 Km of New Ways in 12 Months

Mid October 2012 I produced updated statistics on road lengths in OSM for Switzerland, a year later it is time for an update.

The statistics show an increase of a total of at least 23’000 km from 152’000 km a year ago to 175’000 km now. As already seen in the last update the length of all roads with higher classification does not show much movement, a clear indication that the major road network is very complete.

Growth is mainly due to the increase in minor roads, tracks and paths mapped, which in turn is likely to have been driven by improved coverage with aerial imagery in 2013.

Detailed Numbers

OSM classification length (km) length (km)
motorway 1’508 50% of the length of one-way segments 3’009 one-way segments counted fully
motorway_link 343 684
trunk 365 515
trunk_link 54 106
motorway + trunk 2’270 4’314
primary 4’973 includes _link
secondary 5’382
tertiary 10’978
unclassified 18’326
residential 25’858
service 8’750 service=alley and unspecified
driveway 1’052 service=driveway
parking aisle 1’002 service=parking_aisle
track 16’313 tracktype unspecified, neither foot or bicycle = designated
track grade 1 11’454 neither foot or bicycle = designated
track grade 2 20’176
track grade 3 11’688
track grade 4 3’390
track grade 5 2’129
track total 65’150
path 22’180 neither foot or bicycle = designated
pedstrian 365
footway 7’354 plus path and track with foot=designated
cycleway 1’196 plus path and track with bicyle=designated
combined cycleway / footway 578 track, path, cycleway and footway either with explicit or implicit designated values for foot and bicycle
Total 175’404


AGM and Mapping Party Moutier


On Saturday SOSM had its first regular Annual General Meeting. To make it a bit more interesting we combined it with a mapping party in Moutier and surroundings, a slightly undermapped region in the Bernese part of the Jura. More on that later.

The highlight of the AGM was the election of three new members to the board replacing Stéphane Henriod who is extremely busy with HOT related activities and is most of the time in far away countries and Thomas Ineichen. A big thank you to both for the work they did in the first half year of SOSM.

The newly elected board members are

  • Pascal Mages (treasurer)
  • Philipp Schultz (assessor, press)
  • Patrick Stählin (press)

They join the incumbent boad members, Sarah Hoffmann and myself, that were duly reelected, as were the auditors Otto Wyss and Arthur Bonino.

The assembly passed a budget that includes funds for a leased server for SOSM services and we expect to announce what will be available in the immediate future.

Detailed minutes will be available in short while on this site.

Back to the fun stuff.

Half of Moutier has been mapped for quite some time, however aerial imagery for the 2nd part and for the villages in the same valley just became available early this year.

Prior to Saturday we did some armchair mapping resulting in this:


Screenshot from qa.poole.ch, red are mostly roads  that were traced from imagery. As you can see a number of the villages didn’t actually have anything mapped. Nothing to feel all too bad about:



The picture shows what commercial navigation data was for the village Belprahon roughly in the year 2000, everybody starts small as you see. With the data gathered on Saturday the valley looks like this


Most of the remaining red is due to roads not being signposted or not having names in the first place, not to forget that the house numbers seemed to be really small on average making them extremely difficult to read. The result is not perfect,  but a lot better than before and the village of Belprahon now looks like this in OSM


Again thanks to everybody that participated!