OpenStreetMap Trips

Aug 16, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   GIS  //  7 Comments

As I said in my ear­lier blog, our com­pany (J Syn­ergy Tech Devel­op­ment) is work­ing on a map­ping project to edit Nan­garhar Province in the east­ern Afghanistan on Open­StreetMap. There are a few dif­fer­ent ways to edit on OSM: You can edit by hav­ing local knowl­edge of the area you are edit­ing. You can also edit by record­ing gps tracks with a gps or a smart phone and then upload­ing those tracks on OSM and edit all the places you have been to with your device. This way you can mark places with names and take geo­tag pho­tos, etc. Another way to edit on OSM is to draw a map of the places you are vis­it­ing and then sit at your desk and edit from your home. Our team uses a com­bi­na­tion of all these meth­ods. We are a group of five edi­tors that usu­ally go on long trips to the far away dis­tricts of Nan­garhar. We have a TOYOTA Corolla with a mileage of 233415 that was dumped in Afghanistan after it was used in the U.S. It still has ‘THE LONE STAR STATE’ license plate on it.
The day before yes­ter­day, we went to Behsood, a dis­trict that is not very big and it is close to Jalal­abad city. We already knew some about the struc­ture of its main bazaar, its roads and streets and pub­lic ser­vices build­ings but we still had a lot to see and map: any new schools, clin­ics, or other pub­lic places built. Usu­ally, when we go to a far away dis­trict we go through our con­tacts to see if any of us has friends or rel­a­tives in the area. We always find hos­pitable friends that will host us for how­ever long we want. We take some food with us to our host fam­ily for all of us to make sure that they have enough to serve us. On this par­tic­u­lar trip, we did visit some friends but we did not have to take any food: a) we went early in the morn­ing and fin­ished in one day. Behsood is very close to Jalal­abad so we came back home for the night. b) We were all fast­ing as it is the month of Ramadan here. In Afghanistan, to avoid any sus­pi­cion you want to fin­ish every­thing in one trip, if pos­si­ble. Two days is enough time for us to drive around on the main roads of a dis­trict, get a sense of where every­thing is and get some tracks of the key loca­tions. Some of us walk with their gps track­ers on so we can cover as much area as pos­si­ble. We also draw a map of pri­mary roads and other key places on our draw­ing pads.
After we fin­ish record­ing tracks of all the main roads and key areas, we come back to Jalal­abad and start edit­ing on Open­StreetMap. We put all the col­lected data together before we start edit­ing. We usu­ally work for a cou­ple of weeks on each small dis­trict before we go to another. There are 22 dis­tricts in Nan­garhar and we will be work­ing on OSM to edit as many dis­tricts in the next five months as pos­si­ble. Next week we are plan­ning to go and map Surkhrod Dis­trict. It also a dis­trict that is close to the city but it is big­ger. By the end of 2011, we will have a very detailed map of our province. We will hope­fully start edit­ing another province after Nan­garhar.
In the photo below is Noor Ahmadi, our net­work admin­is­tra­tor and he makes that our Inter­net is always work­ing as we edit the map of our city on OSM online.
Rah­mat Sadat is our admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant and he always makes sure that every­thing is work­ing smoothly and every­one is work­ing on their planned tasks.
The rea­son why it is impor­tant to record tracks and gps points is that the imagery on OSM is usu­ally old and it does not have places that have been built recently. There is one prob­lem in our project: None of the gpx files that we record with our Sony Eric­s­son smart phones view on OSM. Right now, we con­vert those gpx files to KMZ and open them on Google Earth. We look at the Google Earth and edit OSM which is a much harder alter­na­tive. If you/any of your friends can help us trou­bleshoot the gpx view­ing issues, please leave a comment.

  • Tod­dHuff­man

    Excel­lent work!  

    I’ll look into the GPX file issue.  What appli­ca­tion are you using to do the tracks?  

    • Hameed Tasal

      We are using ‘Open gps Tracker’ and ‘My Tracks’ appli­ca­tions for record­ing these tracks. The phones that we are using is the X10 Sony Eric­s­son. Thanks,

  • Alexan­dre Degtiarev

    1. Load your track on the OSM.2. Turn on the TracksThat’s all.PS: Use JOSM.

    • Hameed Tasal

      We are using OSM Pot­latch 2 (Is this what you mean by OSM 2?) for edit­ing. The thing  with JOSM is that we can­not down­load large areas for editing. 

      • Alexan­dre Degtiarev

        Not OSM 2. 
        (1).Load your track on the OSM.(2).Turn on the Tracks.
        See my attached image. Read Help in Pot­latch 2.
        I’ll do screen­cast later.

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