Monthly Archives: January 2012

OpenStreetMap and Indoor Maps [Part 2/2]: The mapping proposal for OpenIndoorMaps [by Marcus Götz]


Following our first post on the challenges and opportunities of an indoor-extended OpenStreetMap, we now wish to concentrate on the specifics and provide a proposal for “OpenIndoorMaps”. Before doing this, we provide some use-case scenarios that our proposal addresses.

Use-Case scenarios for OpenIndoorMaps

There are many possibilities or use-case scenarios for indoor maps or services such as routing or navigation. Imagine being a businessman at the airport: after entering the entrance hall you first want to go to the check-in counter and then to a nearby newspaper shop before searching for the lounge and then finally going to the gate. Normally you have to do this “navigation” by yourself, which can be quite a challenging task (especially in huge airports such as Chicago or Beijing).

Another example is the following: you are visiting a huge shopping mall. Unfortunately you do not have much time, thus you need proper guidance inside the mall. Luckily, you have your OSM based indoor routing application on your mobile phone, which means that you can easily locate your desired shop or item and receive proper routing instructions inside the mall. Besides these two use-cases there are plenty of other scenarios such as navigation in hotels (imagine being in Dubai in the Burj Khalifa with more than 100 floors or in the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas with more than 7000 rooms), in universities, in museums, train stations and so on.

As you can see, there are many meaningful examples of why indoor information is so important.

The indoorOSM model proposal

Basically, a building is represented as a feature (technically as a “relation”), whereby an attribute characterises it as building. One of the well known features of OSM is the fact that all kinds of additional building information such as the name or type can be attached to it. Every floor within the building is assigned a floor level while every entrance or exit of the building receives a unique ID in order to create a connection between the outdoor world and the indoor. Each floor is then assigned a corresponding level, (“floor-relation member”) such as level_0, level_1, level_-1 and so on (level_0 always denotes the ground floor).

Each floor of a building (technically each relation-member of the main relation) is again mapped separately, whereby a specific floor level is selected during the editing session.

Different building parts of a floor are mapped as room, hall, corridor, and so on. Each part of the building can contain features such as windows which can be described (tagged) in detail. Vertical connections are mapped as elevators, stairways and so on. A vertical connection can be connected to several levels (e.g. an elevator) or a single level (stairs).

Extend the model to your needs!

A full technical description can be found here: Please do not hesitate to come up with proposals on how to improve and extend the model!

Start mapping a building yourself!

Start mapping a building yourself: Just open the JOSM editor, zoom to the location where the building is and start mapping the level shell as well as the building parts of one level (for example the ground level), and finally combine them in a relation. Afterwards, you can hide this relation (thus all ways will be invisible) and start with the next floor. When you have finished mapping all of the floors, simply create the building relation and add all floor-relations as relation-members.

Look at your result!

Currently, there is no automated integration process of indoor maps into Therefore, if you have mapped a building, simply send a short notification to m.goetz [at] (mentioning the relation id of your building) and your map will be integrated as fast as possible.  In the long run, a version with automated building integration can also be developed – assuming that there will be more and more building mapped indoors.

Ulf Möller

The OpenStreetMap Foundation has learned of the death of our friend and colleague, Ulf Möller.

Update: Help find the killer

Ulf’s family have asked if we can help find Ulf’s killer(s)? Please see the photos of the murder suspects and help if you can.

Ulf Möller, 1972 - 2012

Ulf discovered OpenStreetMap in 2007 and mapped in Munich and Hamburg as well as in other countries. He was the first German elected to the OpenStreetMap Foundation Board in 2009/2010 and served on the License Working Group with attention to detail, concern for the German OpenStreetMap community and courteous persistence.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board offers sincere condolences to Ulf’s family on behalf of the OpenStreetMap community. We are saddened and shocked by his untimely death.

The family has requested privacy at this difficult time. Please use the comments in this post to share your memories of Ulf and condolences for the family. They will know where to find them when they are ready.

Ulf’s family has kindly provided the above photograph of Ulf as we will remember him; Smiling, happy, cycling, and apparently mapping with his GPS.

Weekly OSM Summary #34

January 2nd, 2012 – January 16th, 2012

A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap (OSM) world.

  • The State of the Map (SotM) Conference 2012 will be held in Tokyo. Congrats Japan!
  • The call for bids to host the State Of The Map US Conference is out now.
  • The first US OSM Hack Weekend will take place in Washington on February 18th and 19th.
  • Toby wrote a blog post about “License Change Mapping” a.k.a. Remapping.
  • Simon’s CLEANMAP has a second new layer. The BADMAP now displays all data which will likely be removed after April 1st, 2012.
  • A big “Thank you!” to all volunteers who supported the World Health Organization (WHO). Read the full letter here.
  • is another webpage, which recently switched to OSM. You can find a general article here and a more technical one here.
  • published an article on how to switch to OSM.
  • Pascal, Dennis and Alexander conducted several analyses regarding “OpenStreetMap in Germany 2007-2011”. Their study has been published as an open access paper.
  • OSM Israel uses the OSM Germany webpage design now too.
  • The new WordPress Plugin “MapsMaker” integrates an OSM map into your blog.
  • Rob wrote a really nice tool to create a HTML report for your GPS/GPX track. You can find more information on his webpage and his project on github.
  • The aerial imageries of the GeoEye’s OrbView-3 satellite are Public Domain. For more details on how to use them, read the announcement here.
  • Gael presented the OSM project to the French senate. Watch the video (in French) here.

Did we miss something? You can contact us via

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)

Google IP Vandalizing OpenStreetMap

Last week Mocality, a Kenyan business data startup, caught Google scraping their data and the post made it to boing boing. Mocality tracked this down with some analysis of their logs and a sting operation, even recording phone calls that Google staff made which contained false information. Google have apologized and the incident looked closed, at least from the outside.
Unfortunately we have to report something similar is still happening to us from the same source.
Preliminary results show users from Google IP address ranges in India deleting, moving and abusing OSM data including subtle edits like reversing one-way streets.

Two OpenStreetMap accounts have been vandalizing OSM in London, New York and elsewhere from Google’s IP address, the same address in India reported by Mocality. 

The most obvious vandalism started around last Thursday last week from these particular users however it may take us some time to do a full analysis. In fact over the last year we have had over 102 thousand hits on OSM using at least 17 accounts from this Google IP. 

These actions are somewhat baffling given our past good relationship with Google which has included donations and Summer of Code work. As a community we take the quality of our data extremely seriously and look forward to an explanation from Google and an undertaking to not allow this kind of thing to happen in the future.

Mikel Maron, OSMF board member,
Grant Slater, OSM Sysadmin,
Steve Coast, OSM Founder,




Update 17th Jan 2012 5:30pm GMT
We’ve had many questions since this was posted and wanted to fill in some blanks.
Why was the post made? As an open community we respect the privacy of our members. We have to draw a line somewhere between open and closed communications not being available to community members. It was felt on balance that making the minimum facts public was the right thing to do.
What more details can we share? The source IP range: 74.125.63.* and two of the investigated accounts are: (This user was blocked for a day on Friday… and they continued vandalising on Monday after being made aware of their bad edits Source: ) and 
Do you have an example of malicious data? Yes, here: (London), (New York City) where a user from that IP address modified one way streets [reversed and deleted]. Here: where a user added a fake Olympic stadium.

Have we spoken to Google? We are talking to Google and sharing all the information we have. 

Do we know if this was a coordinated activity? No. We simply know the IP address and the accounts and edit information, we’re not implying a grand conspiracy. The edits were made over many hours over multiple days – nothing that would happen as an accident by a new user. 

When and how is vandalism escalated? – Our vandalism policy is here: 

Was this all overblown? As a very diverse and large community of over 500,000 user accounts we have a wide set of opinions even amongst the key people running OSM. This is welcomed and every member of our community is free to speak about how they see things.

OpenStreetMap and Indoor Maps [Part 1/2]


In most countries, OpenStreetMap played catch-up with the commercial maps. Indoor Maps are a completely new playing field. So far, none of the commercial providers have gained traction in the Indoor space. It is also an area where OpenStreetMap could take the lead and leave the commercial providers behind straight from the beginning. Wishful thinking? Maybe, maybe not. On the one hand, there is a lack of an Indoor approach for OpenStreetMap. On the other hand, there is no other map data with such attention to detail.

Now there is also a very promising approach to Indoor Maps for OpenStreetMap by the University of Heidelberg and especially Marcus Götz, who is co-author of this post and who will present his approach in a succeeding post. In this post, we want to give a better idea of the opportunities and challenges for “OpenIndoorMaps”.

The opportunity

Germany has reached a leading position with regard to coverage in the OpenStreetMap universe. Around the Reichstag in Berlin, every single tree is mapped. In the Berlin zoo, every single animal compound is mapped. So, what’s next for mappers in those densely mapped areas? An obvious answer is to go indoors.

The indoor space is the last frontier in mapping, and people are seeking and even expecting their well-known outdoor applications (e.g. navigation or local search) being adapted to the Indoor context. However, for transferring applications like or indoors requires details about indoor spaces, and buildings need to be mapped inside. This is where the OSM community can build upon their strength of local knowledge and their attention to detail and as a result beat commercial data providers.

The key difference

Indoor applications require maps on top of each other to deal with floors. Floors need to be connected to each other. Floors need to be considered during capturing and during rendering. Different data is overlaid with each other, thus an appropriate methodology for capturing and visualizing the data is required. Especially a tall  building with several floors results in many super-imposed ways when mapping the rooms, corridors and floor shapes in OSM, which makes the OSM mapping some kind of inconvenience (at least for inexperienced mappers). Mapping indoors results in a huge amount of data for a comparable small area.

The challenges

Capturing and rendering floors – How can different floors be mapped in OSM? What is an appropriate visualization of multi-level buildings? How can the OSM map be extended for indoor information?

Privacy protection – Can the indoor space be mapped without limitation or are their additional privacy concerns to be considered?

Indoor Measurement – What technology do people need to capture indoor maps? Which gadgets will take over the role of the GPS receiver for street maps? Is there some kind of publically accessible building information available?

The Indoor Approach by the University of Heidelberg

The Indoor Approach of the University of Heidelberg focuses on dealing with the concept of floors. Thereby, each floor is mapped in great detail, thus the shapes and geometry of rooms are also included. The developed approach builds upon the existing OSM technology with ways and nodes, and combines them with relations to a building. Additional information about doors or semantic information, such as room names, is also included.  Essentially, a building can be fully mapped with existing OSM editors (mainly Potlatch or JOSM) and no additional extensions are required. Similar to other applications, the data can then be used for the creation of indoor maps and other applications.

Part 2 of this post will describe the approach in more detail and intends to encourage a discussion to include the community in development of a feasible approach for the OpenStreetMap community.

Tokyo host for SoTM 2012

The SoTM organizing committee have just announced the winning bid for the 2012 International conference for OpenStreetMap. This year we’re going to…

Tokyo, Japan!

Tokyo by Night

‘Tokyo by Night’ photo CC-BY-2.0 user JeHu68 on flickr

The annual event will be held September 6th-8th 2012.

From the blog:

There were five proposals to host the leading international OpenStreetMap conference: Aveiro (Portugal), Havana (Cuba), Lille (France), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Tokyo (Japan). “We’ve received several strong bids. Deciding on the best location for State of the Map is always one of our biggest and toughest decisions.” says Henk Hoff, chairman of the SotM organizing committee. With the crisis Japan had to face the past year, the Japanese OSM has grown intensively; making Asia an important part within the OSM community.

We strongly believe that holding State of the Map in Asia will widen and strenghten the international community as a whole, like it has done in Europe and North America in the past” commented Tiachi Furuhashi of OpenStreetMap Japan.

2012 will host the sixth annual international conference, attracting over 250 people in attendance. Previous editions of this conference were held in Manchester (UK), Limerick (Ireland), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Girona (Spain), Denver (USA). Sponsorship details, volunteer opportunities and more information will be available in the near future.

Weekly OSM Summary #33

December 12th, 2011 – January 1st, 2012

A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap (OSM) world.

  • On Dec. 24th, 2011, OSM reached the goal of £15,000 in donations for new hardware that is needed for the OSM project. Thanks to all donators!
  • A new video shows all edits made in OpenStreetMap in 2011.
  • The OSM system administrator created a list with the “Top Ten Tasks“. Developers are welcome!
  • The OSM domains are now registered at Why?
  • A blog post by Nestoria about switching from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap and some interesting comments. MIT published a similar article about the switch from Google Maps to OSM.
  • “The World Health Organization (WHO) has asked HOT and the Stand By Task Force (SBTF) to be activated to map health facilities in Libya.” Read more here. Also, the HOT Board has two new members.
  • How are your road conditions? A nice OSM application for St. Petersburg.
  • The Overpass API has been updated to a new API version wich included some bug fixes and new features. More about the Overpass API can be found here.
  • The ArgGIS Editor OSM 2.0 beta has been published. To be able to use this editor you need to purchase the ArcGIS for Home software.
  • Blog post by Chris Hill about the OSM license change and the remapping procedure.
  • Simon Poole created a first CLEANMAP. A map using ODbL licensed OSM data only.
  • A Youtube video shows how you can resolve license problems in OSM Editor JOSM.
  • Taginfo also shows tag combinations now. You do not know Taginfo? Read this.
  • has a new GUI and is no longer redirecting to
  • MapStalt – A simple OSM POI-editor for Windows phones.
  • OpenFixMap is an android application that shows OpenStreetMap errors from MapDust, OpenStreetBugs and KeepRight. The source code is available here.
  • With Smrender you can render sea maps based on Mapnik and OSM.
  • A new JOSM APT repository for Ubuntu is available online. For details see here.
  • A new plug-in helps to add SRTM elevation information to OSM Nodes using OSMOSIS.
  • The X-Plane flight simulator uses OSM data? How? Read this blog post to get some more information.

Did we miss something? You can contact us via

Authors: Pascal & Dennis – (thx @ “Wochennotiz”)