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I have gone through the beginner's material, the mapping techniques, I have uploaded several tracks recorded on my Android phone and also have made several edits on the OSM.

I plan to cycle to an area nearby, I checked on OSM and I guess more details can be added. My dilemmas are :

  1. I will be using OSMTracker for Android and will start recording the moment I leave home. I will take text notes and photos, POIs wherever possible
  2. I don't know how to 'visualize and map' the unknown area and then contribute it back to OSM. Does the mere track recording help(I don't think so), I will need to map woods, lakes, cycle tracks and streets but when out on the field with a bicycle and a the Android app, how do I do it ?
  3. An idea I have is to carry pencil and paper and draw things. Probably, it will help me to use JOSM or something to add details later but then I couldn't find any guide as to what to draw. Can anyone help ?
  4. Is there anyway where pencil+paper and the Android app can complement each other and help me 'meaningfully draw' an area and map it to OSM

asked 01 Jun '16, 20:02

lone_wolf_2002's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 01 Jun '16, 21:05

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

First off: there is no one correct answer. Each mapper has their own personal style of doing thing, also depending on what you'd like to map.

As aseerel4c26 said, record the things you think would be most useful to you. It's nearly impossible to fully map an area in one go, usually several people visit the same area repeatedly, each time adding more and different details. Don't stress too much about recording everything; anything you add to the map has value! If the area is relatively blank, you can start by just mapping the trails and roads, and any significant POIs. When mapping an urban environment I would, for instance, write down street names, street types, locations and names of shops, etc. Note that this requires stopping every few seconds (depending on the density of things you want to write down), if you want to spend more time riding, then some kind of automatic camera setup might be better.

Personally when I map on a bicycle I record my GPS tracks on my phone. I have a notepad and pen, and I draw annotated schematics of my surroundings, recording things which I find relevant (here is an old example). I don't worry about getting the proportions correct on my sketch - my GPS tracks will handle that for me.

When I get home, I upload my GPS tracks to OSM, and then use an editor like JOSM to draw the ways and points, combining the information from the GPS tracks (which gives me their location) and my sketch (which gives me their attributes). In dense areas this is enough, in more sparse areas you may want to manually create waypoints using your GPS logger (so that you know where to map that POI, as it may not be obvious just from looking at your GPS tracks).

For sketching you could try using Field Papers, but a blank piece of paper does it just as well.

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answered 02 Jun '16, 09:07

Lightsider's gravatar image

accept rate: 42%

I recently blogged about exactly this problem:

In summary:

  • Recording a GPS track is very helpful, especially when you can't see a path in the satellite view due to foliage.

  • If your phone's app allows it, I find it useful to add quick POIs that I can later fine-tune with the satellite view and a real editor at home. A School POI will get turned into a school-grounds area, a Lake POI will get its real area drawn in, etc.

  • Taking a printed map that you can draw on is useful, e.g. from Field Papers. I find it easier to scribble on paper than to poke at the phone while out in the field :) (Take a hard surface on which to rest your piece of paper while writing!)

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answered 07 Jun '16, 01:25

Federico%20Mena%20Quintero's gravatar image

Federico Men...
accept rate: 0%

Map what you like, map what would be useful to yourself. Plan your journey, look whats missing on the map, possibly look at the aerial imagery to spot features which may be cycle-able ways and ride to explore and survey them. Knowing what to look for in advance makes it easier. And you get to know new areas!

It may be as simple as to survey the tracktypes (if highway=track) and/or surface or smoothness (at least if you go to ride out of a city). If you want to take notes while you ride you may want to use your own personal codes to take notes with a handy device. I often use a "real" GPS device and just create waypoints while riding and keeping details in my memory. E.g. you may set two waypoints shortly after another to make a record that a track is tracktype grade2. Three waypoints for tracktype grade3 and so on. With an easy to use Android app and a smartphone holder that should be possible too. I do not know OSMTracker that good. It is important that you are not distracted too much from riding, so only some presses of a big button is possible - rather no typing!

Similar to tracktypes you could have a look at some quality assurance error detection tool (I use keepright) to find nearby potential errors. Then you could go out with your bike and have a look at the place. Important: all those are just hints for potential errors. The tools may be wrong. This is special important to know if you are just new to OSM. Be sure to understand what the "error" is, before you attempt to correct it.

Similarly you may want to look at nearby notes and have a look if you can help by surveying.

If you make a break at some points you may take more notes at a saved waypoint.

Yes, also the mere GPS track recording and possibly uploading into the OSM GPS tracks database will help. It would be good to check your GPS track before you upload it. Is the quality okay or is it much more jagged/off than other already uploaded tracks?

I cannot comment on pen and paper - never used it in any surveying.

Also have a look at .

Last, but not least: have fun and start slow! With a bit more experience you will get to know what to look for, what to map, how to map.

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answered 01 Jun '16, 21:05

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 01 Jun '16, 21:17


You can set up OSMTracker for "one big button". That's what one of my button sets is: if I tap the screen anywhere, it starts a voice recording.

(05 Jun '16, 04:15) Carnildo

@Carnildo: thanks, "button sets" sounds good!

(05 Jun '16, 12:32) aseerel4c26 ♦

Mapping on a bicycle, I'm relying on my memory, my GPX track recording, and where applicable, on the existing map (in this descending order of importance). The track helps a lot - "why did I make a left turn here? Aha, that was when I went off the paved road onto a dirt track. And oh, there was this bus stop shelter at the same intersection, too."

If there's something data-intensive (such as a new shop with opening hours posted), I take a photo (I'm recording my tracks using Locus Pro, which allows me to add photos, recordings and even notes to the track).

At home, I load the GPX track into JOSM, and check it with the pictures I took.

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answered 02 Jun '16, 12:31

Piskvor's gravatar image

accept rate: 37%

I don't have experience with surveying with a bike, but wonder whether you are willing to stop and take notes each time you see something interesting.

Perhaps you could install the Mapillary app on your phone and attach it to your bike. It will continuously take pictures of your ride. You upload the pictures when you are back home to their server. When the images are processed you can see them in iD and JOSM and use them to map all kinds of things. Other people use a video camera to collect data.

I make walks and only take pictures of stuff that I want to map. But usually I do not take enough pictures (ca 300 pictures for a 2 hour walk of ca 12km). I use a DSLR and attach long/lat to the pictures later on using the GPS track I recorded with my GPS device via the geotag application. Personally, I find my smartphone way to slow for taking pictures (also because I want to use it as navigation aid and switching between 2 apps takes forever).

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answered 01 Jun '16, 20:19

escada's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

edited 01 Jun '16, 20:44

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

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question asked: 01 Jun '16, 20:02

question was seen: 4,042 times

last updated: 07 Jun '16, 01:25

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum