Author Archives: Richard Weait

GSoC 2010 mentoring organizations announced

The GSoC mentoring organizations for 2010 have been announced and
you’ll recognize some of them.

OpenStreetMap will mentor students for GSoC for the third year in a row.
Mapnik – a rendering toolkit frequently used with OSM is on the list
for the first time.
OSGeo – is on the list as well.

Of course, all of the mentoring orgs are our friends. GSoC is a great
project to nurture young coders. Go have a look.

FME loves OSM


Michael Weisman writes on the FME Blog:

It’s true. Getting data into OpenStreetMap can, at times, be difficult.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great applications out there
for pulling data off your GPS, or tracing Yahoo imagery or adding your
favourite coffee shop as a POI from your iPhone. But, what if your
organization has building footprints in Darwin Glacier Lambert
Conformal 2000 for an entire city in Oracle Spatial and you want to
put that data into OSM?

I have written in the past about using data from OpenStreetMap in your
FME workspaces as a data source, and so I was happy when we recently
added a very early stage writer to compliment the reader. So what does
this new OSM writer mean? Well, if you’ve got some data you would like
to share with the OSM community, you can write it to OSM XML just like
you could with any other format supported by FME. If you want to load
your city’s public data into OSM you can use FME to create OSM XML
from that data. (Note, make sure the license of data you don’t own
allows this, just because it’s public doesn’t mean it can legally be
loaded into OSM. Read and understand the terms and conditions)

To use this writer you will need to be running an FME 2011 beta. It is
still in a somewhat early stage of development, but will improve as
time goes on, and become easier to use.

So if you use OSM data, and you have something to share, why not give
back to the community by loading it into OSM? Download an FME 2011
beta and let us know what you think. If you’re not a current FME
customer, feel free to sign up for our evaluation program for a 14 day
trial. Once you get your trial license, you can download the beta and
be up and running with our OSM writer. We’re always open to comments
and suggestions!

Now a little birdie pointed us to this blog from the talk-ca list. A
tip of the hat to Daniel Bégin for bringing this good news to our

It’s nice to feel the love for OSM from proprietary software vendors as well.

I wonder if either Daniel, or Michael would care to confirm a rumour
regarding the motivation to add this writer to FME? or should I just
start that rumour here?

Thank you, gentlemen.

P.S. The author denies the suggestion that existing OSM editing tools
are anything less than perfect.

The Dangers of Bespoke Open Data Licenses


Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver have joined the municipal open data
movement. They show vision in recognizing that providing detailed
information about their cities is good for their citizens, the
environment and the local economy. They should be feted for their
leadership. Thank you, Canadian cities, for believing in Open Data.

But there are risks in the waters of open data, and new swimmers
always swallow a few mouthfuls of water. In this article we analyze
the terms and conditions used by “Edmontorcouver” and find that their
data license is currently unsuitable for OpenStreetMap. And most
likely unusable everywhere else as well.

Lighthouse photo ccby DaveBleasdale on Flikr

Project of the week of March 14, 2010 — Sport Facilities

The project of the week is a fun way to get out and map something that
you might not map otherwise.

World Cup 2010 facilities in South Africa

Taking inspiration from the suggestion page we’re going to add more
sports facilities to the map. Ideally, you’ll live near the venues for
World Cup 2010 and be able to add the stadiums, surrounding roads and
points of interest. You’ll find starting points linked in the full

In your area

But you don’t have to live in South Africa to contribute sports
facilities to OSM. Add a local baseball field, hockey rink, curling
rink or football pitch to the map. Hey, why not add a dozen of them?

More details here:

Curling practice photo cc-by brianholsclaw

A better approach to municipal open data


Every municipality that is releasing open data is “doing the right
thing”, but some are doing a better job of it than others.
Municipalities are new to open data, so these teething pains should be
no surprise. The wider open data community is obliged to point out
where municipalities are falling down but we are also obliged to point
out who is opening their data more effectively.

See how well Washington DC measures up in this article.

“Thinker” statue photo CCBY by Brian Hillegas on Flickr

The Tragedy of Edmontorcouver Open Data


There are two minor mistakes that are holding Edmontorcouver open data
back from wide adoption, two minor mistakes that are preventing the
Edmontorcouver open data initiative from being a tremendous success.
Tiny mistakes. Easy to overlook. These are the O-rings on
Edmontorcouver open data Success Boosters.

Find out how to fix your municipal open data initiative.

Statue photo cc-by-sa fabbio on Flickr

Open Data from Toronto

Mark Kuznicki hosted the Toronto Open Data Lab at the Toronto Innovations Showcase this week.  This was the official launch of, and the release of several open data sets.

I was pleased to meet so many folks working at the city of Toronto and at the province of Ontario who showed so much interest in Open Data.  There were many great conversations going on, from the exhibition floor at the city hall rotunda to the mixer at a local pub later.  All of these are great signs of a new open-awareness at the city and I see it as overwhelmingly positive.

Being new to the world of Open, the city wanted some feedback regarding for what applications people would use this newly available data.  As Toronto Transit Commission data, addressing data and road centrelines were all released I thought immediately of the travel planner for London from mySociety.

I had that chance to talk to many folks about OpenStreetMap through the course of the day and I was pleased to share my enthusiasm for a travel planner like this using the Toronto data.

Travel planner using Toronto Open Data

The data we have now is imperfect but rather than critiquing the quality of the dance steps of this bear, let’s marvel that Toronto released open data at all.  Most of the data sets grew up in separate silos in Toronto departments.  The folks at the city are as new to these data sets from other departments as we are.  They’ll get used to working with each other in an open environment and that will move them to more of the open tools, standards and practices that we take for granted.  I’m sure we’ll see a bug tracker soon.  We’ll see increased use of open formats rather than proprietary lowest-common-denominators.

Bravo, Mayor Miller, for recognizing the benefits of Open.  Bravo, Mark Surman for challenging Toronto to become a city that thinks like the web,  This is an important step along that way.

Toronto City Hall Photo is licensed cc-by-nc-sa by Vlastula on Flickr

London Travel time map is licensed cc-by-sa by Tom Carden.