Monday 8 July 2013

June Nottingham OpenStreetMap Pub meet-up

A mix of late 19th/early 20th century terraced houses
on Foxhall Street, Forest Fields, Nottingham.
At the S end there are substantial villas near The Forest itself.

  After a hiatus of two years I decided it was time for another pub meet-up in Nottingham. 

We followed the formula from the past: an hour of mapping before adjourning to the pub. I've set dates for the next few months: the next meeting is on Tuesday 9th July.

Here's what we got up to in June. 

Pre-pub Mapping

Four of use met at 6:30 outside the Lincolnshire Poacher. I wanted to grab some shops on Mansfield Road in Carrington. Kev and Laura joined me. Will has already done some reconnaissance on Bing  around Cranmer Street so he was keen to explore that area..

St. Anne's Hill / Cranmer Street

Despite Will's stated intention to avoid doing house numbers, he still managed to collect a few! The really interesting thing is that he found a new street: a terrace of houses hidden away down a narrow alley.

This area is a difficult one to map: not only does it contain buildings inter-mingled from 2 or 3 distinct development phases, but the later buildings are distinctly quirky in how they are named and addressed. There is also a very intricate network of pedestrian footpaths and for an area of social housing a lot of green space. One thing I've noticed now several times when surveying here is that it has a very high population of one of my favourite birds, the Mistle Thrush.

It's becoming clearer that it can only be approached by mapping very small areas at any one time, but it's clear from Will's work that the end result will be impressive. This latest mapping also comes quite close to some survey work I did 10 days ago, so once mapped areas start to coalesce it will be much easier to complete.


The rest of us headed towards an area called Carrington via Mapperley Park. Partly this was to just collect GPS tracks and geo-coded photos for parts of Mapperley Park which has never been properly surveyed, but mainly it was a nice alternative route to Mansfield Road. Mansfield Road contains most of the retail areas in the city which are not yet mapped.

After looking at the shops, we made a quick inspection of the new micro-pub Doctor's Orders (mainly because we had no idea what a micro-pub was either). Then we crossed between two main roads along streets lined with a mix of large old houses, flats, and 1960s and 1970s infill. On the first of these we also managed to find a new road! Closer inspection of the aerial imagery when adding this to OpenStreetMap suggests several similar groups of houses with a street name distinct from the main thoroughfare.

Beyond Sherwood Rise the housing is much denser with an interesting mix of large substantial villas, three storey terraces with fine brick-work and smaller terraced houses. All were built around 1900 with the larger houses close to the open space of The Forest. These days the area has a large Muslim population as evidenced by the shops we passed selling Halal meat, and with the number 786 placed discretely on many shop fascias.

Photos of our route can be seen on OpenStreetView.

So in an hour we passed through an four very distinct areas: up-market residential area (Mapperley Park), a predominantly commercial district (Carrington), a higher density residential area (Forest Fields) and parkland (The Forest). The first three are still pretty incomplete, as was evident as we walked through them. The Forest Recreation Ground was mapped quite some time ago and it looks in need of remapping to improve consistency with the rest of city. (From my perspective this is good: we're not going to run out of mapping candidates near the Lincolnshire Poacher).


All in all we found two new streets (with more to come), mapped about 25 retail outlets, 150 addresses and a variety of street furniture (a few trees, benches, a bit of cycle parking and a post box). We missed a few things too: most notably a former church which is now a mosque, a Polish Catholic Church and a Buddhist temple. And we walked past an unusual post box without noticing. Fortunately the latter has received a reasonable amount of mapping love before.

In the Pub 

We were joined in the pub by SomeoneElse and later by Jeremy Morley and (Paul) Sladen.

I'd known of Jeremy for about 3 years.  Partly because he is Mark Iliffe's PhD supervisor, and is one of the people who set-up both the OSM-GB project, which I've written about before, and the WhereCamp event at Nottingham in November 2010. So it was very good to finally meet up. Many thanks to Laura for her  persistence in persuading him to come along.he.

We jumped from topic to topic with Jeremy: anything from the Photogrammetry Department at UCL, survey grade GPS equipment, OSM-GB, and several others. I can't even begin to summarise the discussions, but the focus was on how mapping volunteers and academic geospatial folk could work together. After Jeremy had left, we tossed around a few ideas about what sort of things this might involve , but it is clear that there is plenty of scope for using OSM as part of course work in such a way that it can generate decent data and provide interesting project work.  I, for one, hope to explore some of these ideas over the summer.

I hope that personal contacts such as these will lead to mutually beneficial closer co-operation between local mappers and the geospatial expertise at Nottingham University.
Sladen is one of the earliest contributors to OpenStreetMap in the Nottingham area: certainly he was already editing when I signed-up. He wasn't best pleased that the Lincolnshire Poacher was near the top of the hill: it looked to have been a thirsty ride up on his Brompton.

Paul had earlier been to a meeting which is trying to protect the status of one of Nottingham' ancient rights of way, Lenton Road (a good over view by OSM user Robert of Lenton on his blog). Thanks to It seems that even OpenStreetMap has a role to play (details for a later blog post).

Derwent Aqueduct crossing the River Trent near Sawley
(source  Stephen McKay on Geograph via Wikicommons)
We also learnt about some of Paul's particular mapping interests: I certainly got the impression that he was keen on railways and tunnels and preferably together! I was only vaguely aware of one of these  mapping projects: the Derwent Aqueduct which carries water from the reservoirs at the head of the Derwent (notably Lady Bower) to towns and cities as far away as Nottingham and Leicester. On writing this up I realise I'd seen the most obvious part of the aqueduct where it crosses the Trent.

We also talked a fair bit about Nottingham Open Data particularly in the light of mapping the new tram network. Paul has the impression that the shape files which are made available have to be assembled from engineering drawings on a fairly ad hoc basis. We were all excited by how the tram construction people had used a raw print-off of the Mapnik rendering to show footpath diversions: and thanks to our clamour this was Image of the Week on the OSM front page.

Even big firms with Ordnance Survey mapping licences
find it more convenient to use OpenStreetMap!
Image:  by Paul Salden ex. OSM Wiki
 I'm sure we discussed plenty of other things, but the only one I can remember is chatting to Laura about a couple of wool and knitting shops I had mapped. Now I'm no knitter, I never learnt to cast-on, but Laura combines knitting with volunteer work, so she knows what's what about such matters.

I'd been worried about whether we should tag things shop=knitting or shop=wool; and then what we did with places which sell haberdashery items and so on. Laura thought they'd all quite happily sit under shop=craft. I'd expected that this was one of those areas where the experts are very pernickitty about separating different things. It does show that it's much better to consult someone in the know than go the ridiculously convoluted efforts that some people go to in devising fiendish tagging schemes. As more and more shops get mapped it is clear that we probably need to simplify some of the basic categories of shops: hopefully in conjuction with the forthcoming updated render and the iD editor.

I nearly forgot to take a photo of us in the pub and only grabbed one after several people had left, but as it is customary for such an image to feature in the blog here it is:

A somewhat reduced contingent in the pub (L to R: will_p, wja, sladen, SomeoneElse)

1 comment:

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