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How can I add a building to OSM without the assistance of satellite images?

There's logs of great tutorials on the Internet that show how to add a building to OSM by tracing its outline from satellite images on openstreetmap.org -- but how can I do it without satellite images?

In my case, the satellite images are useless because they're blurry or there's a giant cloud in the atmosphere that's obstructing the view of the ground.

Is there some way for me to, with a GPS-enabled smartphone, literally walk to each corner of the building and tap an "add node" button until I've returned to the first node? And then use the corresponding node's bounded area as the building?

Or is there some way for me to fly a drone on a clear day to take a photo -- then somehow overlay that on-top of the OSM data and use that photo (instead of the satellite image) to add draw areas around buildings?

What options do I have to add a building to OSM without satellite imagery?

asked 14 Jul, 23:21

maltfield's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 16 Jul, 11:07

nevw's gravatar image


You should be able to use a GPS device to get the coordinates of the building corners. I suspect that unless you have a professional GPS or do way point averaging over a few days that the accuracy will be low. But it should work.

I don't have the link, but I saw a write up recently on making a background aerial image tile set from GPS aligned drone video. I was envious of the results: Sharp, clear and totally up to date. Almost makes me want to get a drone and figure out how to use it. My quick websearch isn't picking up the article I read but I think that OpenDroneMap was part of the tool chain.

While searching for the above, I found a OSM diary entry with another possible method: Scalable Aerial Imagery Generation from Phone Lidar and 360° Point Clouds

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answered 15 Jul, 01:05

n76's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

"You should be able to use a GPS device to get the coordinates of the building corners"

Can you please provide instructions?

(15 Jul, 01:51) maltfield

I have drawn missing buildings by taking a few pics for reference. I then just estimate position and size using the reference photos. You can use a number of GPS way points that are aligned with the projected building sides. I did a diary entry that may give a few ideas. see https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/andy%20mackey/diary/38774 note using the existing Bing (or other) images can show the footprint of the building plot.

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answered 15 Jul, 08:30

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

edited 18 Jul, 17:15

You can also add a building and all other relevant details to a node and await clearer imagery to update in the future.

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answered 15 Jul, 13:18

nevw's gravatar image

accept rate: 9%

Agreed, that's what I'd do. Especially as the aerial shots don't necessarily give all the detail and can be misleading, as what might appear like part of the building from above, might actually just be a foldable canopy.

(20 Jul, 09:32) Mikey Co
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question asked: 14 Jul, 23:21

question was seen: 707 times

last updated: 20 Jul, 09:32

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