Monday 2 December 2013

Harry we missed you! London OSM Hack Weekend

Thura (half out of picture, sorry), Dan, Matt and Shaun do a "Harry"
I attended my first ever OSM Hack event over the weekend. I knew I needed to be down in South East England around the end of November so I managed to schedule my plans to include the hack event at AOL/MapQuest London offices. My own contribution was slight because I was still sorting out moving data from my old laptop to my new one, and didn't really achieve this until Sunday morning.

Andrew, Thura, Dan, Matt, Shaun, Grant, Serge, Mick, me (standing), Jon
(photo Simon, Cyclestreets)
The rest of this post is merely a collection of quick bullet points about things which happened, were talked about and so over the two days.
  • The major thing that was done on the Saturday was updating the main OSM website: most OSM users should have noticed these changes by now. Not everyone is happy (although this is a given for any change on the OSM site), and following SomeoneElse's comments about the browse pages I have to agree with him that giving the map more space reduces the usefulness of these pages. However, I am equally sure that most glitches will get ironed out quite quickly.

  • Dan worked on getting offline maps running on Firefox phones. (Several of us were interested in Dan's digitizing tablet too).

  • Dan, and perhaps others, did some work on the HOT OSM Tasking Manager.

  • Frederik brought a case of Club Mate along. To my surprise I found it quite palatable.

  • Half of OSM London are getting married next year. Congratulations to Shaun and Andrea, Harry and Francine, & Derick and Morag.

  • Simon, Shaun and I had a long chat about whether OSM can be used for sensible multi-modal transport planning.

  • Robert was working on That Shouldn't be Possible, his nifty tool for finding bad map data by comparing OSM data with real GPS traces of routes.

  • Serge, Robert, Grant and I had a passionate, but I hope, good-natured, debate about the FDA requirement that 23andMe's DNA sequence kits need to be licensed. I plan to blog about genetics, open data, big data and related topics real soon now: it was an opportunity to rehearse some of my arguments.

  • Kat Arney - embryologist, science communicator, journalist, harpist, and knitter - was around on Saturday morning. She interviewed most of us: so one or two of the more coherent statements may appear on a BBC Radio programme in the New Year. Her parting shot when the pizza arrived was that we lived up to all the stereotypes of hackers! (Male, Club Mate drinking, pizza eaters.)

Food Hygiene postcodes buffered to 100m matched to OSM named highways.
(Note NG8 2AE which does not find any highways).
(Image contains copyright Ordnance Survey, Royal Mail and OpenStreetMap open data)
  • MickO and I made a start on working with Food Hygiene Open Data. Mick wrote a parser for the XML and then generated a shape file from a subset of the data. I (eventually) managed to match FHRS postcodes to CodePoint Open postcodes and then find all OSM streets within 100 metres. Mick tried inputing the FHRS data into Nominatim, but for some reason Nominatim won't match the full addresses from FHRS. (I regard this dataset as an excellent exemplar for trying out a host of issues with fuzzy matching of OSM data to external data and conflation).

  • A wikipedian, whose name I didn't catch, visited late on Sunday afternoon. Like Kat, who has written a chapter about my former boss in a forthcoming book, he has been involved in improving the coverage of the work of female scientists in public media. (Wikipedia have an initiative and a lot of work was done recently on Ada Lovelace day). He wanted advice on what information he could collect and in particular about geotagging photos.
MapQuest (Matt) looked after us well, and we had a couple of enjoyable (and not particularly boozy) sessions in pubs in the evening. All-in-all a very interesting and diverse couple of days. Look forward to doing it again late January, early February.

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