Aug 252011

Today we will be liveblogging the DevCSI/GECO Open Mapping Workshop which is taking place at the CCA in Glasgow. At the moment we are just setting up for the first session which will be on OpenStreetMap.

Introduction – Mahendra Mahey, DevCSI

Mahendra is introducing the DevSCI project, funded by JISC, which focuses on creating an ecosystem for developers to encourage innovation. My connection to today’s event is through Jo Walsh, she sits on our steering committee and one of the requirements of being on our steering committee is that you arrange an event and this event today is Jo’s event although unfortunately she is off sick today.

We are very much about informal communities and events. To share experience and network and share ideas. My particular focus is developers in academia but it’s a very open and informal space – we have commercial developers and other interested people of all kind. If you have any ideas for events or meet ups then I’m really open to hearing about those. We are also looking for some case studies around how to get the best out of developers in academia and routes to stimulate innovation.

We run lots of hack days, usually over two days with accomodation nearby, to stimulate new ideas some of which go on to be funded projects.

Finally if you are along for the next few days, at the OpenStreetMap State of the Map Scotland event we’ll be in a larger space with this room, the Electron Club, in use for those who want to hack and developer.

Editing and re-using OpenStreetmap – Bob Kerr

OpenStreetMap is like Wikipedia for maps. Anyone can edit it. That usually scares folk as you could put a motorway right through George Square and ruin Brad Pitt’s zombie movie! But it’s all volunteer generated, all created by the community. And we’ve done a lot of mapping. We’ve actually completed Edinburgh and have compared it to the Council’s list of street names and we’re actually more accurate than the Ordnance Survey data on street names!

We have, for example, all the animal enclosures (and benches) in Edinburgh Zoo, all the buildings in the hospitals, all the names of the holes on Golf Courses, all the buildings in the universities etc. And we’re actually starting to add in buildings, walls, details like hedges.

What we are seeing here is a rendering of the data, we might as well look at what the data actually looks like. So I’m going to the Export tab and will export it as XML data. So we can see that we have lots of “nodes” and the latitude and longitude of those nodes. We also have ways which are lines and areas which are buildings and the most complex structures are multipolygons. That’s as complex as it gets and though we are looking at the raw data it’s relatively easy to look through. Each change has a user and a timestamp here as well.

If you are wanting to find out more about the data types and so on then I recommend you search YouTube for openstreetmap basics then you will see a series of videos from the Khan Academy which explain the data in much more detail than I will today. For example, here is a video on adding Address tags:

YouTube Preview Image

Main OpenStreetMap page / Documentation / Map Features

This will show you all of the types of features you can add/tag when you edit the map, there are a huge range of items you can add, it goes down to walls, hedges, etc. When you look at the main OpenStreetMap site you don’t get to see many of these things. The main map is rendered to show only particular things – there is often much more data underneath that may not be immediately obvious.

In visualising this database it gets you thinking about other databases you could map – you could map a company or a government. Maybe which jobs make a company happy say – if you have a huge organisation the people that make that building happy may be the people who clean the toilets… but I digress… back to OpenStreetMap. We can click on the + sign in the top right hand corner to look at other base layars. So I’m going to look at the Cycle Map of the city. There is also a german render for wheelchair users at (we don’t have enough UK data to do this yet), and we have – a map of what you can forage and eat.

I’m going to start by looking at the very basics of editing. For people that start editing I usually tell them to open one tab for the Map Features guide, and another for editing OpenStreetMap. If you want to sign up for OpenStreetMap and get yourself an ID – it’s all free and you just need an email address and you can sign up for free then you can start editing.

So when I am logged in I can move ways, I can start editing by clicking on the Edit tab.

You can see we are tracing from Bing aerial imaging – they have given us access to use this. So this lets us add areas around buildings. The next time I save this then I can also add additional data – like an icon for a supermarket, a shop, a school, etc… This particular editor has been made really nice and easy.

I can change the background. For instance there is some open Ordnance Survey data that we can use – it’s great for streams but we can also see where some of the buildings and

I can also switch on the GPS layer – this shows where someone has driven/cycled/walked around with GPS to form a track. And that helps us line up and make corrections to ways, etc. I can walk you through

If I do edit something it will start appearing on the map. Often it happens in 5 minutes, it will always be there by the end of the day – they are rendering the whole of the world though so it can take a few hours.

Trying to sell the concept of OpenStreetMap in Scotland can be really challenging as there are already really good quality maps out there. But if we look at Nairobi there is an area called Kibera which was one of the most impoverished slums and there was no mapping or information on this area. Volunteers from OpenStreetMap have started a project to map the area with handheld GPS and mapping the streets, the water supplies, healthcare, etc. We also have a project to map a major slum in Dar es Salaam that is currently ongoing.

If we look at Dadaab in Kenya with 300,000 refugees there is almost no mapping. We have a simple outline and we have some aerial footage from the UN that we can trace from. It has been there 20 years but there is no existant mapping and that’s very embaressing. But we are getting data in from the UN and that’s not something we can do with Potlatch (the web editor for OSM). Instead we will use JOSM. You can download an area, a city, a country and, if you really needed it, the whole world (a hefty 10Gb compressed file).

People get introduced to OpenStreetMap via Potlatch but they often move on to JOSM (Java OpenStreetMap Editor). You can start renaming data en mass, you can search data and you have some other powerful tools to play with. You can make quick easier edits to areas, you can add tags, etc. We can also view imagery in the background, look at the OpenStreetMap view of the map. We used to have Yahoo! imagery but it has now gone from the net – the Yahoo! maps never caught up with MapQuest or Google Maps so it’s not there anymore. For most places those Bing images are better and more up to date The former head is a big supporter of OpenStreetMap though and he released the imagery of Haiti when the earthquake there hit.

At present we have 454000 registered users. We think around 4% of those are actively contributing edits. It’s expanding at a very fast rate and the detail is quickly increasing especially with that satellite imagery. We have government data sets that are becoming available and being added in and I actually got offered all the field boundary data from Scottish Government – still trying to figure out how to use that well. The next two years will be really interesting.


Q1) Do you think you will have more approaches to include data from data providers

A1) We do have a lot of organisations keen to have data seen by the general population but it’s finding the technological routes to do that well and also it’s about making that data available. We’re really just starting. It’s a different type of mapping than say the Ordnance Survey. I’m a great believer and supporter of the Ordnance Survey. You’d never plan a gas pipeline with OpenStreetMap but you’d never make a map for disabled users with Ordnance Survey – they don’t have the time to produce those niche maps. OSM can be a hardish sell but we have a unique niche and being able to visualise data like this is a huge benefit.

Q2) Can I ask about hierachy of the organisation in terms of getting things done?

A2) There is a foundation which is growing in maturity and looks at the finances. Everything worked on about 10K last year – we get some funding for conferences etc. We are entirely run by volunteers and we also get assistance from universities for servers etc. As far as hierachy there is a lot of chaos going on – one of it’s strengths and one of it’s weaknesses. I like that there is the main GIS community who are used to absolutely accurate approved information, and ours is still being whittled and improved and occasionally a bit squiffy. We are about community information more than perfect accuracy. You can prove your worth in the community via your ranking on OpenStreetMap – how much you have actually done.  Although the chap who set up the Cycle map won an award and he’s gotten a lot of credit for that work

Addy) Part of the challenge is that you have data coming in but verifying that data is correct is really important. You have some great academic papers coming out of UCL where an academic will look at the OSM data, he’ll buffer the line of the road and he’ll compare this to Ordnance Survey. He’s found that OSM is as good as or better than the OS 1:50K if not the 1:25K or 1:10K. But in rural areas there is a very different level of accuracy – there is a smaller population to map.

Bob) In the UK we’ve always had the Ordnance Survey to compare with. But we work with them and pass on corrections to them and we can lobby, which they can’t, for data to be released in a form that both OSM and OS can use – for local authority facilities etc. There is a lot of work looking at verifying data. We have the Keep Right! map that helps look for incomplete or wrong data on the map to check, verify etc. There are various ways to do this.

Q3) Has there been anything like the Doomsday Project where school kids have mapped stuff?

A3) That’s really interesting. We are just looking at where schools are and education boundaries. There was a quote that the head of education in Helmand Province in Afghanistan was illiterate. I travelled to Nicaragua and was speaking to the head of an advanced school with money from the EU, they had satellite internet access, they knew about Wikipedia, but their government didn’t send them maps. That’s one of the reasons I am keen to have mapping in Central America here on OSM.

Q4) Do you think that the Ordnance Survey are looking at what we’re doing as a driver for what they need to revise themselves?

A4) Well if we look at we can see a list of street names and this is shown as a list of errors in Ordnance Survey. But they update maps all the time, there are new builds etc. There was some conflict at the beginning but I think we are in a good place now. We want to work with them.

What we’re doing is looking at the completeness of our mapping. Blue on this map is over 95% of roads mapped. yellow is over 75% mapped. We think we will have the skeleton of all the rural roads mapped in the next two months where we know that the mapping is good quality.

Addy) The Ordnance Survey remit is to map every inch of the UK whether the Shetlands or urban London. They will be looking at Open Street Map as it’s not cost effective to send surveyors out to get the same level of detail in rural areas. In Northern Ireland builders have to file mapping information with plans to help keep maps up to date but there is no UK requirement for that.

Q5) Do you have a web mapping service (WMS), APIs etc. I want to integrate straight into ArcGIS etc.There was one in Heidelberg but it’s been taken down as too many people accessed it.

A5) There are independent researchers with dedicated resources that do something like that but if you want the whole world that could be an issue – I’d need to look into it. It’s about bandwidth not availability of the data though.

Addy) UCL might have something as they host some of the UK servers. We’ve discussed that before at EDINA but we’d probably do that for the UK HE/FE sector and we do that, and ask people to register, so that we can track bandwidth.

Tim) You could also look at MapQuest – they have an API.

With that it’s off for tea, coffee and curious biscuits including a paricularly unusual banana & butterscotch shortbread…

Next up:

Map Styling Tools and Interactive maps on the web with OpenLayers – Addy Pope, GoGeo

There’ll be a bit of overlap with the first presentation here but then I’ll move onto OpenLayer. I work for EDINA and we are a National Data Centre supported by JISC to provide resources to higher and further institutions. We run various projects and services around data of all sorts – film, sound, data of various sorts. I sit in the Geo team and there are a large group of us working on a wide variety of geo projects. We use a lot of OSGeo software – Bob has a disc of this if you’d like one and he may talk more about that at the end of my presentation. is a great place to find OpenStreetMap highlights – like mapping of Pompeii, CERN, etc. Bern has some great mapping – down to the level of trees, house numbers etc. Some countries in Europe don’t have Ordnance Survey mapping and therefore put a lot of this detail in to ensure there are detailed maps of their area.

Looking closer to home Britain’s most popular mountain bike trail in Scotland – the forest is Scotland’s second biggest tourist attraction,

And in Edinburgh’s Southside Jo has been taking old historic out of copyright data on architectural detail – she used a National Library of Scotland scanned map to trace from. The National Library of Scotland has an ongoing project to crowd source the georeferencing of out of copyright historic maps so there is

Cloudmade – we’ve already looked at the little blue + sign. We can see Mapnik, Osmarender, Cucle Map, NoName. Cloudmade is a company that has spun out of OSM to do consultancy work – they use the same data as everyone else but use their expertise of the data to offer specialized services.

Steve Coast, one of the original founders – as is Jo Walsh – had set up Cloudmade though he’s now left. They tend to put up useful stuff on It’s OpenStreetMap in a big viewer with additional content.

As an aside.. interestingly Apple has filed a patent to patent maps. All maps. Conceptual and geographic maps.

One of the benefits of what OSM is doing is that maps can be rerendered for accessibility purposes – I prepared this slide [of different renderings or “Styles” of maps of the same area of Glasgow] – which can be quickly viewed on Cloudmade by clicking on a different map Style. Some of these are primarily to make the maps look pretty but they can be really useful. An alarming number of British males have colour issues and two of the main colours on Ordnance Survey are red and green. OpenStreetMap can be rendered in pretty ways, in different styles which can make them much more accessible – and you can create or edit themes to meet your own needs. To do this login to Cloudmade and click “Edit Map Styles”.

Not all features are rendered in all styles – so you should design your map with that in mind. If you want to design a large scale map you will want to make it look different to a small scale map – always think about the purpose when you design a map.

So here you can see that I’ve made the main roads red on this map, then minor roads in washed out brown, motorways are in blue, green roads are trunk roads.It took about 5 minutes to design this, lets go in and edit it now…

From this style editor you can choose to filter out features and customise your map for your needs. You are creating your own StyleSheet – it’s a bit like CSS/a stylesheet but it’s stored as xml.

So, we can look at the xml and see a series of rules here about the colours and styles to use for different types of features and lines, which should or should not be displayed. We’ve created all of this from that simple . Mapnik can take this xml from OpenStreetMap and render it for you. You can download Mapnik – I tend to use a bundle from OSGeo which combines Mapnik and OSGeo4W. That bundle is available for PC and Linux, not sure about Macs.

Bob) OSGeo are Open Source Geo and they do try to make things cross platform. The DVDs I have here are the full bundle but you can install all of these from the web as well.

So Mapnik turns your styles and map data into an image of a map but if you want to create something interactive you need to go further and use OpenLayers. You probably already use OpenLayers in a variety of web mapping tools. So, for instance, here is how we use it in Digimap – this is all Ordnance Survey rather than OSM data. This is rendered as an image from the server. So you have basic mapping controls and also things like annotation tools – so you an add shapes and lines etc. This functionality is customised from OpenLayers toolkits essentially. If you used OSM as your WMS in the background you could do much the same. We serve a WMS not a WFS so you can do some interaction with features but not in the same detail

Q – Andreas) Do you have any experience with WFS and can you give any advice on those?

A) I don’t personally but we do at EDINA as we do services like UKBorders so I can certainly put someone in touch with you.

Moving on… There is a good side to find OpenLayers ideas, examples, tools etc. and will identify the code for you to use:

Bob) The examples site is really good. You can start with simple stuff and then look at more complex code and concepts. The community is developing stuff all the time so the examples here can get behind what’s already happening out there.

“Slippy maps” are very often done with OpenLayers.

Q) Don’t you need a licence or API key to create stuff with Google Maps – like this OpenLayers example?

A) Yes, and you need to look carefully at what you can and can’t do as there are restrictions.

So… What if I have some of my own data that I want to show on a map? We can use QGIS to do most of the hard stuff. It’s a free open source GIS package that runs on Window, Linux, and Macs. It’s easy to use and well supported by a very active community.

So, the recipe looks a bit like this:

  • take some data
  • load into QGIS
  • download the OGR2 plugin…

So, a shameful plug here, I am starting with ShareGeo Open, a repository for sharing open geo data – email me if you’d like a login. There is some really interesting data in there going in from Chris Fleet of the National Library of Scotland from historic map sources for instance but there are also research sets etc.

I’m starting with a map of NationalParks in the UK – this is from Strategi, an Ordnance Survey Open product. There’s one trick here in QGIS – and it’s not in the Help section for the plugins. You need to go and check the box in your QGIS Plugin Manager to allow third party plugins. You are looking for OGR2Layer (from Python repository in QGIS). All of these plugins are built with Python. Make sure you click the “yes” button to accept other symbology. You then use this plugin to export your data to OpenLayers which creates GeoJSON of your data and a WMS of OpenStreetMap data with a rendering of your choice (it creates two files – GeoJSON and an index file). You have some rendering options. The file you put in must have a geographic projection as this is used to create the GeoJSON. Open the GeoJSON in any browser – even IE (though you may need to hit CTRL-F) – it will combine your local data with the OSM map. It’s a great starting point.

Andreas) I can also recommend MapTime – more rastor data – you can choose background layers, can use API etc. I can show this later.

Q) Can you make those layers interactive?

A) Yes, you can. So taking 2 more ShareGeo data sets – nucleur power plants and earthquakes since 1900 – we can create a map that you can interact with through queriable attributes and view multiple types of data.

And finally here is a canned example of campus buildings for Edinburgh University…  And shameful plug 2: you can also use other WMS with QGIS, like the OpenStream service EDINA runs!

And with that we’re headed to lunch…

After a lovely lunch we’re going straight into some Lightening Talks:

Aerial Images from Around the World – Andreas Buchholz, GIS and Research Curator for the National Collection of Aerial Photography (

This is probably one of the most important collections of aerial photographs in the world. 1938-1980s declassified ministry of Defence images.

We have lots of supporting and related information about these images which gives us an increadibly specific level of detail in the metadata – so we can see when the image was taken – time, date, year. And the clock in the image confirms this! Aerial photography connects both little stories but also big historic stories. It can prove or disprove history. We have imagery of the D-Day landings for instance. And it’s not just about linking metadata to these photographs but also it’s about the level of detail of these photographs. All of us will remember 35mm film but we have collections with even larger levels of detail. You can see a man in a field say – it’s Google Earth but 60 years ago.

We have the resolution and also the resolution of time. We cover the same areas at different times. So our hay field has a tower block and major road in place by the 80s. This is fascinating and also very useful and important for private researchers. We can look at bomb damage between 1943 and 1945.

That was the light part of the talk but now I want to talk about why I want to be here, to improve the searching and mapping around these images. We have 15 million images, not all of them catalogued. We have  an ACIU Archive GIS – Coverage map – you select an area of the map using just an ARC GIS Viewer. One area will have lots of attached images. These come from maps we have scanned – it’s a time consuming search for reference numbers, then you can compare that to the images. We would like to do something nicer.

We have about 60,000 aerial images which cover various countries, you can select a broad region, and you get a large number of results – and you can view those on Google Earth to help get you to more detailed results. You can see one plane took over 700 images. We give a rough indication of coverage – not all cameras show the same level of detail – and from this view you can click back to view the specific image you want to see. If an RCAHMS subscriber you can then zoom in further and further for more detail.

One of our key users of the archive is a German bomb disposal company – about 10% of all bombs dropped didn’t explode so there is a real issue with unexploded ordnance that still needs to be dealt with – especially when major building work is being undertaken.

At the start of the presentation I tried to convince you of why I was so passionate about these images. Here is another

All images were taken with a 60% overlay that means you have stereo. That’s not just very useful for accuracy, for perspectives. But you can also gain 3D views of materials.

We are also using OpenStreetMap to compare modern features, or view the images as layers.

Addy) There is a Dutch website which uses a rectangle for all the maps of Holland – it’s not great at the top level but you can browse thumbnails of maps as you zoom in.

We have been experimenting with sliders etc. but haven’t found a set up that works as we need yet.

JISC GECO – Nicola Osborne

This was my presentation so look out for a link shortly…

And onto our next scheduled session:

Getting started with PostGIS geographic database – Lasma Sietinsone, EDINA

PostGIS is a spatial extension to the PostgreSQL object-relational database that support geospatial data. Why bother with a database? Well it helps the data be independent from application programs. We want efficient data access. And we want our data consistent and secure – we can grant permissions and access restrictions through our database. The database also allows us to have centralized data administration and concurrent access and crash recovery for that data. And we also have reduced application development time is we have a common data access format.

The PostGIS extension provides:

  • Geometry/geography data types for points, linestrings, polygons, curves, geometry collections, 3D geometries (limited). Geometries allow you to enter degrees that allow you to really measure and
  • Spatial operators such as contains @, overlaps, intersects &&, same as =, is to the left(), right(), etc.

Spatial functions like Constructors (e.g. ST_GeomFromText(), ST_MakePoint(), etc; Output which lets you output as GML, GeoJSON, Binary, etc; Accessors – these are getters and setters like ST_Transform(), ST_GeometryTypes(), ST_IsValid(); Measurement – like distance, sphere etc; Decomposition e.g. ST_Centroid(), ST_Box2D(); Composition e.g. ST_MakePoint(), etc; Simplification e.g. ST_Simplify(), ST_SnapToGrid().

The common workflow for enabling PostGIS:

  1. Load/populate table
  2. Add geometry column with certain dimensions and spatial reference system (SRS/SRID – or in fact any projection)
  3. Register geometry column in geomretry_columns table
  4. Optimise performance by – creating spatial index; clutering data based on spatial index – to help you to identify features in a given spatial constraint for instance. And you can use this index to physically organise your data on your disc.
  5. View/Edit/Query data with desktop GIS like QGIS, OpenJump, GRASS etc; web map servers like GeoServer, MapServer, Deegree etc; custom applications communicating via database connectors such as JDBC – for instance forms on a website for instance.

Data can be loaded from CSV, TEXT, Shape etc.

So we are going to build a demonstrator using OSM texture data to find the nearest Point of Interest for location enabled mobile devices (e.g. pub? (-> food?) -> cash? -> food. We will give the user 5 results for their query. And I will build this all in the Scratch here.

So we will start by:

Downloading & Installing Postgres Plus Standard Server 9.0

As I install this I will only want the Database Server and PostGIS. I will select the Database Installation Tuning from the Value Added Services page. I will put in my account details – you have to register but it is free to do so.

I am going to go first into pgAdmin and that’s our starting point for using Postgres and creating new users.

So I will right click on Databases and choose to create a New Database… You can choose a template for your new database – I’m going to use template1 here – initially that means my new database will be an exact copy of the template. We go to Query, and we go to the PostGIS directory: PostgresPlus>9.0SS>share>contrib and we open postgris.sql and execute this (by clicking the play button). Then we want to also open spatial_ref_sys.sql and do the same. This will create spatial queries, geometry functions etc. So we are not installing PostGIS but a series of SQL scripts. At the moment we have done all this as a super user. We need to make these functions available to other users with:

GRANT ALL ON TABLE geometry_columns TO public;
GRANT ALL ON TABLE spatial_ref_sys TO public;

We also want to go in and add the new directory pah to your system variable path.

So we then go back to pgAdmin and create a new login role – you should not be executing things as super user as this isn’t safe.

We will now create a PostGIS database template – you can use any database for this and it will copy everything including data. Now I have to create a new connection as my user name – not super user – so that anything I now do with my database is under that connection.

So we can now go into that database. We have geometry columns and we have PostGIS functions (most of these start with “st_”) and you can see some really useful explanations of all these functions on the PostGIS website.

And now we will again execute a script to enables hashtags – key value pairs.

Next we want to install osm2pgsql from

So we download that, we extract it to a new directory on the local disk – more detailed instructions to come on Lasma’s slides/audio/video from today.

Download OSM data – in this case Edinburgh (,55.9126578,-3.1441498, 55.9720691) and we will then load the file from the command line. This can take a wee while – luckily this is a small file, previously I have tried loading a file that took 1 to 2 weeks to load!

Once you have loaded the file you should always go and see what has been added to your database. So we can see locations, attributes, etc. – this looks like the type of data we are expecting. So I have identified this as a table of interest. So we shall extract data from this table to make it useful to myself. So I want to create some user tables.

I start by clearing out any old data id that exists. Then I want to create an amenities table for selected POIs – I want the id, I want the amenity text and the name text. I also want the operator text, the tags hstore and geog Geography. next I want to create and register a geometry column – which you can now see back at pgAdmin.

So… when I set up this demo I thought what would I want if I were a tourist in Edinburgh. Maybe a pub. Maybe also some food/restaurant. Now not all those places take cads so I will also extract ATM data as well. So I create three separate tables. One for pubs, one for restaurants, and one for ATMs and another for anything else. So I

CREATE TABLE amenity_drink

and specify the information I want in that table. I do this for all of the types of amenities I want. I also want an index for all of these tables so I:

CREATE INDEX amenity_drink

And then I am going to create a trigger to sort data – this will insert amenities into one of the categories in my table and otherwise to file to amenities_other. So this will automatically check and sort data in the database. So we have a parent table with a trigger (we can see this in the SQL panel in pqAdmin) and we have a series of child databases. These tables are ready for proceeding and parsing data.

So now we open our next script. This will find distinct amenities and insert them into my tables – we can just take all the data from the master table and let the trigger sort the data for us – although this could mean grabbing duplicate entries. So now I have something in my various child tables for different amenities.

So… we now need to think about turning this into an application for a phone. So I set up a queery to look at the location then look for the nearest facility. I takes the master data and tries to compare these to each other to see which are within 500 metres of the users current location. Then I sort by distance from current location. I am also using geometry creation function here – by saying create point from amenities coordinates.

And now I will text that it works…

I am searching for my location in Edinburgh and seeing which pubs are near by… and it’s not bad but not perfect. But the nearest restaurant is correct. But the ATM is not quite right. But it is returning the right sort of data, there are just a few atm and pub gaps in the data.  Can I search for other things… it’s found any tag from nearby so yes, I can get a list of bicycle parking, supermarkets etc. It would be a pretty neat backend for an app.

So this has all been a bit dry and table based.I wanted to show you how to create a colourful map so I  will add a shapefile that I have downloaded from ShareGeo of all the wards

shp2pgsql – this loads shapefiles into PostGres. and then I will use psql (command line version of pgAdmin) and that should load the shapefile into the database. So we should now be able to see a pretty map.

So I am going to open up OpenJUMP and I will then go back to the scratch and set up a new column for geometry for the wards data (from the shapefile) and I will also create statistics – by joining pubs and ward data to compare locations – and get an indication of how many pubs there are in each ward. I’m now going to visualise this data on a map. I’m going to output my data to binary first though as OpenJUMP requires data in binary.

So, in OpenJUMP I will Run Database Query and to do this I will need to use the Connection Manager to add a new Connection. It asks me for a layer. I am going to call it “pubs” and I will then give OpenJUMP a query for the pubs in a ward. It will visualise it and then we can start to add more information. First we will add labels. We will colour it based on pubs (density of). We can visualise this on the fly – you could export this as a shapefile but you don’t have to save the query to see the visualisation.

Q) It looks a bit skewed?

A) It’s a matter of projections – you would need to use something else or spend some time looking at projections to make it work. Google does sometimes autodetect

And Lasma is done – we’ll be turning her presentation into a series of resources. She recommends some resources here:

We’ll make a bibliography for today!


Q1) What do you use this for?

A1) All but one database is on PostGIS and that one database has to be on Oracle.

Q2) How long have been using this?

A2) We have been using it for at least 4 years. We have all of OS Mastermap in PostGIS – it’s robust and easy to use even on data at that scale.

And with that we head for a tea break…


Clinic – ask any mapping questions, try out techniques shown earlier in the day, discuss ideas etc.

So we are having some introductions and discussions.

Mahendra Mahey, University of Bath, I’m a project manager at UKOLN and I organise DevCSI and also the annual Dev8D annual conference where we have 4-500 developers get together and work together. I’m keen to hear your interest and any future activities we can support you guys in. If you have a good idea for an event – as long as it’s not in Hawaii!

Bharti Gupta, Mimas, I work for the Landmap Service and we are based at the University of Mimas. We provide geographic imagery but currently it’s all quite closed commercial systems, we want to look at using open source systems. We want to open up our work and I really like the DevCSI events as you can really find out about tools, data, etc. I think that I’ve learned so much today already. I’m here today, tomorrow and part of Saturday.

Gail Millin-Chalabi, Mimas, I also work on Landmap. We’ve been doing some usability work on Landmap – we use Apollo commercial software but quite a lot of our users are new to spatial data and they’d like something simpler to begin with. So we are particularly interested in using OpenLayers. And also using OpenStreetMap as a base layer in the interface we want to develop – so that initially the user can browse and when they feel confident about data types they can go into our more complex mapping and do SQL querying from the front end.

Jeremy Hugget, Glasgow University, I teach IT and Archeaology. I’ve been thinking about moving my teaching about GIS from ArcGIS to open source tools. Increasingly students want software that can run on their own machines and open source seems like a natural way to do this. PostGIS felt quite terrifying

Julian Gibson, local OpenStreetMap mapper. I came along as I am enthusiastic about maps. I have a project to map forests but there is a lack of time there. I wanted to hear about tools and get lots of useful hints and tips. I had heard of most of the tools today but I haven’t tried them all or mastered them all as I’d like.

Ilene McLochan, I’m a complete newbie to OpenStreetMap!

Tim Foster, I’m organising streetmapscotland?? but I’m also part of OpenStreetMap. And I have a website using OpenLayers which I’d like

Andreas Buchholz, GIS and Research Curator for the National Collection of Aerial Photography, it was really interesting to see what’s been going on today and we are particularly keen to do more with open source technologies

Addy Pope, EDINA, I’m a geo geek as well but it’s my day job. My main role is writing content for GoGeo. I also work with ShareGeo for sharing data. I also work on user support for Digimap – also looking at usability on that too. Happy to talk more on OpenLayers but Lasma has more experience than me!

Nicola Osborne, Social Media Officer at EDINA. I work with around 30 projects and services at EDINA including various Geo projects. In addition to coming along with my GECO hat on I’ve come along to improve my knowledge of geo tools and techniques.

Bob Kerr, OpenStreetMap enthusiast and I think we should all go home and map our little corner of the world. If you realise you have the power to do that and spread that message then we can use our abilities to create maps to places where they are hugely valued like developing countries. Anyone that wants a little tech session later – try out editing – then that’s what I’ll be up to.

Lasma Sietinsone, EDINA, I am a GIS Technician, Developer, Database Engineer etc. I have data dirty fingers – I work on things like the MasterMap UK data. I always use Open Source when I can. And I think it’s important to own and understand and see what’s in the belly of your data! I can help with requests on any of the things I showed before.

Mike Jackson, EPCC, I’m also part of the Software Sustainability Institute and we support and consult with organisations across the UK. We used a Google Map to visualise some of our data last year and I’m excited to try doing that with OpenStreetMap and

Susan Pettie, artist and I’m interested in culture change and the idea of narrative. The way that physical, social geography and using that as a tool for empowerment. We often have a very official idea of what is and should be mapped. But a community may conceptualise their environment very differently. I’m working on a project in Govan on that notion on Culture Change – making the best of what you have and being empowered with your own story.

Bob Hamilton: I’ve been involved in Electron Club for about 8 years and I’ve been excited about getting groups in to discuss to Common Good awareness project – there’s been work on the Common Good of Scotland – this is publicly owned land and amenities. One of the ideas was to have a map of Common Good assets – huge possibilities to empower local communities here. I also run a website called CityStrolls – lots of community stuff. I’m interested in the use rather than the techie stuff.

Mahendra: can you put financial information into OpenStreetMap?

Bob: we’d do that with OpenLayers as it’s not a long term data set – so you could view with the map

Addy: can you do property owner?

Bob: You can do privately owned or publicly owned but we could put in Common Good there

Tim: I have put in the Common Good in for Glasgow as a tag.

Bob Kerr: a Common Good tag would be great to add in and view a map of – many people don’t know that councils don’t directly own a lot of property, it’s there for the Common Good which changes public response and empowerment.

Bob Hamilton: This is a unique Scottish thing – there’s great knowledge in Aberdeen about Common Good so we could share that knowledge in other areas.

Sandra: Glasgow City has a fancy map for your ward and your area. It would be great to appropriate that with OpenLayers and include additional information – add Common Good but also people’s narratives in there.

And having established everyone’s interest areas we’re splitting into groups and rooms… Bob Kerr is running a session on basic OpenStreetMap editing, Addy and Lasma are running a PostGIS/OpenLayers session.

Closing comments and feedback on the day

We have reached the end of our time after a great wee session of mapping, questions and trying stuff out! Thank you to all our speakers and to all who came along!

There is a feedback form for today over on the DevCSI website. Please let us know what you thought of the event here.


 August 25, 2011  Posted by at 9:01 am Events, Misc. Tagged with:

  3 Responses to “DevCSI / GECO Open Mapping Workshop Liveblog”

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  2. Bob Kerr gave a really good introduction and talk to OpenStreetMap I wish I could have been there. I would say he should have made it clear not to use any background/datasource, but I suppose this audience knew that. For example with the JOSM editor it isn’t hard to make Google Maps a background but we don’t have copyright permission to trace their maps.

    On the question of our relation with Ordnance Survey I would confirm in the beginning of OSM we were each other’s biggest competitors, although there was conversation from us. Now we are good friends. Ordnance Survey released some of their (low end) data products due to pressure and consultation with key OpenStreetMap people, and we as Bob explained we have different markets that we both do well at.

    There are now some tools or a plugin to use OpenStreetMap in ArcGIS 10. I don’t use ArcGIS much so don’t know the full details, and I don’t have the leaflet with me now.

    “Steve Post, one of the original founders” should be Steve Coast and he’s usually referred to as the founder.

    Are the slides for the talks available? Addy Pope flicking through different styles of the same place sounds cool. is also fun for showing a few different styles using OpenStreetMap data.

    I like the idea of 1930-1980s 3D aerial imagery!

    • Thanks for your comment Greg.

      We do have some audio and video of the event which we will be sharing in the next few weeks (needs some editing first) and that might help with clarity. There was discussion of tracing issues but I think this may have come much later in the day in the hands on portion of the afternoon. The level of tracing Bob was demonstrating was mainly using Potlatch (rather than JOSM) where the layers are available to choose from which is probably why he didn’t explicitly talk about copyright at the beginning of the talk.

      In terms of OSM and ArcGIS I would recommend GoGeo as a place to find further information on these kinds of tools as they cover both licenced and open data and mapping products.

      I have now corrected “Steve Post” to “Steve Coast” – many thanks for this. Typos and mishears are the main peril of the liveblogger!

      Slides will be going up for this session – some are already available on the page we have set up specially for the presentations, recordings and related materials. We will also be sharing Lasma’s scripts here from her PostGIS workshop. Bob didn’t use slides so the audio recording will be the best record of his presentation, other speakers will be asked for their slides (hopefully including some of that 3D imagery – it is fantastic!).

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