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Video Collection for OpenStreetMap

November 11, 2014

OpenStreetMap editing is typically centered around tracing, meaning digitizing features on top of satellite imagery to extract things like roads, buildings, landuse areas, coastlines, and other visible features. The data made available by providers like Bing for OSM tracing is fantastic for creating the basic foundational elements.

But maps need higher-fidelity data to be useful for navigation, addressing, and finding places of interest. OSM’s value is in its diversity of contributors from around the globe, and those individuals’ ability to field survey their environment to provide that local context for quality map data. Over the years people have used mobile apps to edit with smartphones, photo mapping using geotagged photos, and the old reliable pen and paper method.

Fulcrum’s SpatialVideo adds another tool to the field surveying toolbox for the collection of OSM reference data. Video mapping isn’t a new concept in the world of OSM, but the tools available make it challenging to build a good workflow for analysis and mapping after you collect video. There are cameras that can record video with GPS tracks, but there aren’t many smartphone methods for recording GPS-based video.

Capturing video

To get started collecting video, you can use any Fulcrum app with a video field. We’ve published a quick template to get you started (it even has a status field to help track whether you’ve mapped the video’s contents in OpenStreetMap).

Collecting is as easy as recording video clips inside of your “OpenStreetVideo” survey app, and syncing them up for later viewing or editing. I’ve recorded a sample video below that I’ll use in this example from downtown St. Petersburg. In the clip, I was driving and recording video with a Nexus 5 device, using a K2 windshield mount for steady and safe capture.

Once you have some video collected and uploaded, browse to your video clip in Fulcrum’s web-based map or table view and select the thumbnail icon to show the full video player. This will display your video with a map alongside, showing the track in sync as you move through the clip. You can scrub through the video to fast forward, or click at different locations along the track, and the two will stay together. Within Fulcrum’s video player, you can download several different formats of the video’s track data. For OSM, the GPX format is supported in every editor.

Using the Editors

iD is the native editor built into the the OSM website. If you drag and drop a GPX track file into the browser, you’ll see the track overlay inside the editor interface. Now as you play back video in Fulcrum and see features you want to add to the map, you can switch over to iD and drop points of interest, or add attributes to existing features. In my usage so far collecting video, it’s a great method for adding business locations, bus stops, street furniture, road speed limit info, bike lanes, and more.

JOSM is the power tool of OSM editors. It’s a desktop application and allows for significant customization. Like iD, you can drag and drop your GPX track file into the JOSM workspace, and it’ll overlay the line on the map for you to trace on top of, or to reference for video mapping.

JOSM GPX file support

Here’s a quick video walkthrough of mapping using video and JOSM:

Tips and tricks

A few additional tips and tricks for working with video recording:

  • Changing framerate – Fulcrum for iOS supports tweaking the framerate of the video recording.
  • Uploading your tracks to the global repository – OSM has a public database of GPS traces that anyone can use for mapping purposes. You can upload your GPX files here.
  • mapmoteTom MacWright’s mapmote tool is a Chrome browser extension for quickly opening JOSM to edit OSM. It detects the bounds of slippy maps in your browser to get you to the location quickly for data editing.