140,000 Miles of African Roads Added to Open Street Map

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We just finished uploading 141,107.17 miles (67 MB) of road data for Congo, DRC, Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Burundi, and Rwanda from FAO’s Africover project and the UN’s DEPHA to Open Street Map. OSM will play a crucial role in some of our upcoming mapping projects and these additions make significant improvements to the coverage, especially in rural areas. The data should go live sometime in the next several days. Here is a look at the country maps, before and after this work.

Congo DRC

Total Roads Added: 92,817.62 miles

Before:

f6fb43d702c9 3464223378 139200dc90 o

After: f6fb43d702c9  3463408027 62e8acfaa5 o

| | Original | Added | % Addition | | Nodes | 72,191 | 408,175 | 565% | | Ways | 6,995 | 30,268 | 433% |

Burundi

Total Roads Added: 1,796 miles

Before:

f6fb43d702c9  3463408047 be6f0cd56f o

After:

f6fb43d702c9  3464223508 a360b64141

| | Original | Added | % Addition | | Nodes | 21,212 | 33,030 | 156% | | Ways | 1,381 | 603 | 44% |

Tanzania

Total Roads Added: 17,212.75 miles

Before:

f6fb43d702c9  3463408081 24833a2112 o

After:

f6fb43d702c9  3463408133 282d39a8c2 o

| | Original | Added | % Addition | | Nodes | 54124 | 62765 | 116% | | Ways | 3546 | 3939 | 110% |

Kenya

Total Roads Added: 17,212 miles

Before:

f6fb43d702c9  3463408163 51f585b368 o

After: f6fb43d702c9  3464223718 d9c3a63016 o

| | Original | Added | % Addition | | Nodes | 43094 | 43269 | 101% | | Ways | 2828 | 1562 | 55% |

Rwanda

Total Roads Added: 459.29 miles

Before:

f6fb43d702c9  3463408313 cb76152802 o

After:

f6fb43d702c9  3463408257 681a0b40cc o

| | Original | Added | % Addition | | Nodes | 2173 | 8906 | 410% | | Ways | 457 | 137 | 30% |

Sudan

Total Roads Added: 11,609.51 miles

Before:

f6fb43d702c9  3463408231 82f0e4a75b o

After: f6fb43d702c9  3464223590 1c05ae9b08 o

| | Original | Added | % Addition | | Nodes | 73198 | 12341 | 17% | | Ways | 3609 | 547 | 15% |

Background

This work was done by Megan McCune, Maria Televantos, Erin Pendleton, and Owen Williams, who made up the the GIS for Humanitarian Relief team this spring and who worked with friends and contacts at the FAO’s Africover project and the UN’s DEPHA to gain access to the base-layer data (roads, rivers, rails, administrative boundaries) these repositories contain. Craig von Hagen at Africover and Alex Lugadiru at DEPHA deserve special thanks for their willingness to allow us to contribute the shapefiles to the OSM dataset. Members of the OSM Legal-Talk discussion list provided invaluable advice as to how to ensure the data transfer could happen in a way that protected the community.

Once we had the shapefiles from DEPHA and Africover, Tom MacWright converted them to the OSM data format using the open-source shp2osm tool. Then our GIS team began the process of removing information in the new datasets that OSM already contained. Using the JOSM editor, we de-duped slowly, and each layer was checked for accuracy by a second team member once the work was completed.

As shown above, we’ve now imported new street data for six countries. Thanks again to Africover and DEPHA, we have street layers for five other countries and will be adding them to OSM in the coming weeks. We also have data describing railroads, rivers, and administrative boundaries that we plan to contribute as well.

The Open Street Map community has been wonderful throughout the project. Special thanks to Mikel Maron for his extremely helpful advice and encouragement in the early days of our work. We’ve received numerous emails expressing support and willingness to volunteer since we first announced the creation of the team. Now that we’ve got our feet under us, we plan to take a few folks up on these offers and will be coordinating future work on the project page of each country in the OSM Wiki.

The ongoing goals of the project are to increase the availability of open GIS data and improve the quality of open-source GIS tools that international development and humanitarian relief agencies rely on to carry out their work. We will continue to post the outcomes of this project here on our blog.

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