Around about a month ago, I purchased a Garmin Edge 305 for my bike. It is a fitness training and cycle computer that also happens to contain a GPS receiver. It features the ability to follow workout programs and courses that can be programmed in via the device itself, or likely much more easily sent to the device from a computer via USB. I haven’t used it for that yet, though, that sort of thing requires me to get into a routine.

What I have been doing is taking it with me wherever I ride, and collecting GPS traces to upload to OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is a project to create and provide free¹ geographic data that people can then use to create maps, plan routes, or whatever else takes their fancy. Anybody can contribute, and you don’t even need a GPS: Street names often need to be filled in, or maybe you know that a junction is actually a mini‐roundabout. Some areas also have fairly high quality aerial imagery available, such as the Yahoo! aerial imagery and OpenAerialMap, which can be used to add roads, building outlines, parks, and other things. Old, out of copyright map data for the UK is also available from the New Popular Edition Maps, which can be used to map, for example, cycle routes that follow the paths of disused railway lines.

My first edits in South Manchester covered the area around West Point, Levenshulme, most of it residential areas. I continued from there by mapping up to Rusholme and Longsight. There is Yahoo! imagery available, although it’s not always easy to see things clearly. Combining the aerial imagery with GPS traces and notes taken while surveying makes things a little easier. A highlight has to have been putting The Street With No Name (article with more pictures) on the map.

Last Sunday I met up with Rob (pobice) and went to Leeds for a micro‐mapping party organised by WYLUG members Louisa and John, joined by Paul and Tim. Partnered up with Tim, I helped map around St James’s University Hospital aka Jimmy’s. I lost Tim as we were finishing up to head back to Leeds, but with the help of existing maps from OpenStreetmap I had little trouble finding my way back. Louisa posted a summary along with some lessons learned from organising the mapping party, and Tim created a fantastic animation (MPEG video) of the traces collected that afternoon.

Back to work, and I have been spending some lunch hours mapping in Manchester city centre, mainly around Great Bridgewater Street. It was nice to see that at around the same time, someone else put the G-MEX on the map. Incidentally that’s already out‐of‐date since it has had its name changed (back?) to Manchester Central. Fear not, the maps should be updated soon. The ease of updating the data is part of what makes OpenStreetMap, similar to Wikipedia.

Today I followed the footpaths of Birchfields Park, which is yet to be seen on OpenStreetMap, despite other nearby parks being included to a reasonable level of detail.

I think I may have caught the mapping bug.

  1. “free” here has little to do with price, it means you have certain basic freedoms to use, study, modify, and redistribute the data, akin to those you have with free software.