University of South Florida Mapping Party October 29 2011

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University of South Florida Mapping Party October 29 2011

The mapping party is being organized by the the USF Geographic Society, the Bicycle Club at USF, the Department of Geography (GPS class 5075) and staff at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). Our purpose is to introduce more people to OpenStreetMap, map some features on and near the USF campus, meet new people, and have fun. Saturday, October 29, noon-4pm. We'll meet at the Marshall Center [1], MSC 2702, for a quick introduction, then head out for mapping.

Although this is being organized by groups at USF, anyone interested in OpenStreetMap is welcome to join the party.

We encourage anyone who is interested in joining us to sign up at our Meetup site

What we'll do

We'll talk a little bit about OpenStreetMap and some things we hope to do with it in the Tampa area. Then we'll split up and do some mapping. We'll have some people who have some experience with mapping who can mentor people who are new. We hope most people will go out somewhere, observe and record what's out there, perhaps with a GPS unit, perhaps with a camera. But those who don't want to, or can't can stay at the Marshall Center, and we'll have some people there who can show how to map using aerial imagery. This is also useful, but it can't capture all the information that going out and looking at things on the ground can.

What to bring?

If you have a GPS device that can record where you go, so that you get file that shows your trail or "trace", bring it, especially if you want to go out and map something on the ground. There are several apps for Android and iPhones that can use the phones' GPS chip to do this. A few can output data directly into OpenStreetMap, and others can export data that OpenStreetMap can import. More information on this is available at or

It is useful to have a camera. When you are out observing what is on the ground, you can write it down, but a picture really is worth a thousand words, and electrons are cheaper than film (remember film?) You will want to be able to view your photos to read things like street names, speed limits, names of businesses, street addresses, number of bike parking spaces, types of pedestrian signal controls at crosswalks, and so forth. You may also want a laptop computer, even if you don't want to take it "into the field" with you.

Video cameras (helmet cameras) may be useful instead of still cameras, although we don't have enough personal experience with these to say how well they work for mapping.

As a practical matter, it is difficult and unsafe to do much mapping from a car, other than to drive with a GPS device that can generate a trace. A video camera mounted in a fixed position in the car can help, but trying to aim and move it while driving is dangerous to you and to others on the road. You might do better if one person drives and another operates the camera, but even this is difficult while driving along a street where the speed limit is more than 30 mph. To do more, you really do need to get out of the car, walk around, and observe and record what you see (by taking notes or pictures). A bicycle and a still camera are good. It is easier to stop a bike and take photos than it is to stop a car, find a place to park it, and get out and take photos. And the bike lets you cover more distance than by just walking. You also can ride (or drive) to a place, park, walk around with a GPS device and/or camera to capture detail, and then move on down the road to get detail for another area.

But you should find what works best for you, as long as it doesn't create safety problems for you or others around you.

What to map?

Pretty much anything that you're interested in, as long as it's observable and most people would agree on what it is. Sidewalks, paths, crosswalks, bike lanes, stop lights, stairs, shops, schools, bike parking, vending machines. We'll post a list of possible ideas within a short walk, bike ride, or drive of the USF campus. But feel free to map other things, and of course feel free to map anywhere that's convenient to observe and interesting to you.