OpenStreetMap address collection

Well, Keypad Mapper is likely to get the boot: I just got back from two hours of walking a neighborhood gathering house numbers for OpenStreetMap to find, that despite the GPS system on the phone claiming 5 meter accuracy, Keypad Mapper had only really stored locations about 100 meters apart with all the numbers clumped in those locations. Worthless and annoying. Time to try OsmPad and see if I can stand it.

House number collection techniques

My house number collection techniques have evolved over time. At first I simply printed out a map from OSM of the area that I was going to walk and wrote down numbers as I went by. Maybe I looked officious or just suspicious walking around with a clipboard writing things down: On one occasion I was stopped by a resident and asked what I was doing. Another time someone followed me back to my car and took my license number and reported me to the local authorities. That resulted in a conversation with an officer from the police department who found nothing wrong with what I was doing but wasted my time and theirs and cured me of using the “walking papers” method of data collection.

My next technique was to use OsmTracker with its default button set and an earbud/microphone handsfree setup. As I walked by an address I’d press the sound record button and recite the house number. That actually worked very well. Nobody is suspicious of a person walking around carrying a cellphone and talking to themselves. The main problem is that it is relatively slow to transcribe the numbers into digits when editing and sometimes background noise made hearing the numbers difficult.

So my current technique is to use Keypad Mapper to type in the house numbers as I walked by. People do not seem to be suspicious of people walking round with a cellphone looking like they are texting. Keypad Mapper is setup so that you can enter the number, then as you walk past the actual point, press a button to record it at that location. So you can be looking ahead for the next number, type it in, record it as you walk by and so on. I can walk at a good pace while recording numbers so I get both exercise and data to contribute to OpenStreetMap. And adding the data to OpenStreetMap is a breeze: Open the data file in JOSM, tweak the point locations to match up with the satellite imagery, block select the points on each street and add the street name, then upload. Quick and easy to add hundreds of address points with a few minutes of post exercise work with the editor.

But if I can’t trust Keypad Mapper to actually record the data properly and I am annoyed with their clandestine collection of data for OpenCellID then it is time to move on.

My playing around with OsmPad indicates that it records the location of where you start typing the number. So you can’t actually start typing until you are at the place the number is for. Keypad Mapper also had a feature where you could say the number was off the center of your line of travel to the left or right so you could collect addresses on both sides of the street. OsmPad does not seem to have that feature.

 Postscript 27Sept2014

OsmPad had the same issue with clumping data points together as KeyPad Mapper. But while playing with it I found one thing I liked: You can type in the street name which allows me to verify the name and spelling of each street with the same app that I collect house numbers with. So I think I’ll stick with it. KeyPad Mapper will fill in the street if you have a data connection based on the current OSM data. But if you are trying to confirm the names so you can remove the tiger:reviewed=no tag and you have data turned off it is not much help.

As to the clumping of points: It started a while after I installed one CyanogenMod monthly snapshot and continued across a new CyanogenMod monthly snapshot so it was not solely a problem with CyanogenMod. I usually run OsmAnd (to refresh my memory of the route I want to take), OSMTracker (to get GPX tracks and photos of speed limit signs, bus stops, benches, etc.), inViu OpenCellID (to capture cell tower location data) and either OsmPad or KeyPad Mapper (to collect house numbers and a duplicate GPX track). So I tried running different combinations of those apps with no better luck.

Finally I remembered I’d changed the “GPS idle time” setting in inViu OpenCellID to zero to keep the GPS on even if I wasn’t running other data collection programs. Putting that back to default seems to fix the issue. Oddly the problem occurred even if I wasn’t running inViu OpenCellID so I think it is setting some system parameter that affects all apps that use the GPS. I guess I should dig into the specific details but at the moment I am happy that I can be back to easily collecting house numbers.