Birmingham City Council trees data

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Imported trees in Birmingham

Birmingham City Council trees data is a dataset about trees (their locations, species etc) in Birmingham and throughout West Midlands (county) area (part of the UK).

Import status: A phase one import has been carried out. It potentially requires some fixes (perhaps corrective bulk edits)


This trees data forms part of a large set of Birmingham City Council highways assets data released openly by the council. Their data listing site: "Amey" hold this data in line with their highways maintenance work for the council, and recently made this data release.

Brian Prangle's blog : Massive Release of Highways Asset Data in Birmingham 13-March-2017


Open Government License


Brian's comment was "A review of the data showed its positional accuracy to be pretty good: none of us have specialist knowledge about tree species so we are accepting the accuracy of Amey’s data."

Data fields

Amey’s data contains details of the species, estimated age and shape of the trees as well as other identifiers.

Phase 1 import

An import was undertaken March 2017

Brian's comment was "Currently we’re engaged in importing the tree dataset which we’re doing on an area basis so that we can do a human review and delete existing trees which have been added from various aerial imagery sets. One of the benefits of this method is to eliminate trees in the Amey dataset that are identified as “assets to be de-accrued” – these refer to trees that have been removed either because of highway improvements, storm damage, disease or safety."

So update approach is to be planned.

TODO: document tag mappings used (and what may need fixing)


Example changeset: [1]

About 43000 nodes have been imported. TODO document full extent of imports so far

Example imported tree

age=New Planting
height=2 to 2.99m
species=Liquidambar styraciflua 'Worpl
site_name=LUDGATE HILL
constituency=City Centre

Problems with initial import

Process problems : The initial phase 1 import was undertaken with very minimal compliance with Import/Guidelines. Discussion and documentation are clear requirements which were not met at the time. Let's just do better in future.

Import user problems: The import so far has been entirely uploaded by the brianboru user account. The size of the import was such that it should have been carried out by specially created OpenStreetMap user account. This guideline is in order to create another mechanism of separating/disentangling these edits from normal mapping.

Tag problems :

  • Areas: ward, and constituency tags describe the area a tree is in. That is not a normal thing to do with tags on many nodes. A lot of data which ordinarily should be determined by a data user (if they require it) by geo-querying boundaries information. These tags will have a data update problems when the political boundaries change
  • 'site_name' key which contains the street name written in all capitals. Did this need importing, and if so, did it have to be in capitals?
  • 'usrn' appears to be an identifier (Unique Street Reference Number). The purpose for this should be documented. Perhaps local_ref or ref:usrn should have been used.
  • 'height' values are formatted in a non-standard way (See Key:height)
  • species but no genus

Updates planning : More planning is needed around how updates can occur when Amey make changes to their tree data. Naturally it's tempting to leave this planning until later.