Hello. I'm a regular user (and not-so-regular contributor) of OSM. I draw a new building that my employer built some months ago. Now I was asked to remove it due to "security reasons" (no more information was given). As an activist for Free Software and OpenData I refused for now, but wanted to clear that for me, how the OSM community handles such requests, wether they come from governments, the military or companies.

Greetings from germany

Edgar Hoffmann

asked 15 Apr '15, 10:49

FastEdi's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


Hello all. Thanks for your quick answers and suggestions. This encourages me to do as I planned: I don't remove it. Maybe someone else in the company creates an account and does as ordered...

However, the building is publically seen, there's no high wall or other obstacles to stop passers-by from viewing it and the opening of it was a relatively big event here in my hometown (mayor was here, there was a half-sided report in local newspapers), so everybody already knows about the building and its puspose. So what??

Oh, and besides: I don't fear to lose my job about this. In fact, I'm very known for my Free Software, OpenData and Creative Commons "behaviour" and they rather asked me to delete it, I was not ordered to. In addition, I drew the building not on my job but in private.

(15 Apr '15, 13:19) FastEdi

This really depends on the country, local community etc. Given however that as Hendrik has pointed out the building outlines will be a matter of public record and be available in any case there is no point in removing them. Naturally functional descriptions should be roughly limited to what is publically known and observable, but in this case it is clearly your call.

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answered 15 Apr '15, 12:09

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦
accept rate: 19%

edited 15 Apr '15, 12:30

scai's gravatar image

scai ♦

Because I wouldn't loose my job for this (your boss knows it's your contribution), I would delete the building.

Because I like open data, I would ask some other contributor to recreate the building or use a different user account for this.

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answered 15 Apr '15, 13:02

Pieren's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

On the topic of security, it is good to consider what the view is "on the ground" in the public space. If a member of public can walk past and see there is a building there, then keep it is a building as anyone else could map it that way. If there is a sign up saying the company name or use then you could add that to.

This also provides an answer to military facilities. If everybody local knows there is a military facility (security/signs will likely make it obvious to visitors) but the sign beside the armed guard says "Cute Toy Factory Inc." then we should map it as a toy factory. If it says "Bigtown Military Base (Secret)" then we map it as a military base. Either way, we can map supporting features (e.g. lots of perimeter fences) that it is something of high security. If these places are to be found by bad people, they can use other sources anyway, such as providers of satellite imagery and their own observations/intelligence.

As a mapper & individual however, you must be away of local laws and authority. It may be illegal for anyone to create a map in some countries or just for visitors to carry out map activity while there or to carry a GPS device. Equally, there may be issues with your employment. If this is the case you could ask others in the OpenStreetMap community to maintain the building in question that you tell them is there.

You might also want to mention to your boss that the building will remain in the history, and deleting it may cause more attention and suspicion. The response could be that the building and area get mapped in much more detail. A better thing might be for your company to support OpenStreetMap and help map the rest of the area around your buildings.

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answered 15 Apr '15, 13:07

LivingWithDragons's gravatar image

accept rate: 4%

Hi FastEdi, leave the building as it is. The governament will have a file with it too. So if there’s an import it will reoccur. And it will be visible on Bing after a time. For instance, I do now the address of a large data centre but did not add any specific tags to it besides industrial and so on. So yours will end up with office or commercial. I don’t get why your boss is asking you to delete it, but that’s strange, how does he know it ? Or ask a (OSM) community member to handle the building, so that your boss cant blame you personally if you fear that. ;(

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answered 15 Apr '15, 11:39

Hendrikklaas's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

edited 15 Apr '15, 11:43

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question asked: 15 Apr '15, 10:49

question was seen: 2,646 times

last updated: 15 Apr '15, 13:24

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