Visibility of GPS traces

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Traces with timestamps are drawn with colors by speed in JOSM. Traces without timestamps are drawn with purple.

The public visibility of GPS traces on openstreetmap.org can be configured on upload by the user. There are 4 options.

Privacy option Linked to upload user Public GPS trace list Timestamps via API Points via API Note
Identifiable Yes Yes Yes Yes Recommended option.
Public Yes Yes No Yes Historical option
Trackable No No Yes Yes Preferred over private option
Private No No No Yes
  • Identifiable means that the trace will be shown publicly in Your GPS traces and in public GPS trace listings, i.e. other users will be able to download the raw trace and associate it with your username. Data served via the trackpoints API will reference your original trace page. Timestamps of the trace points are available through the public GPS API.
  • Public means that the trace will be shown publicly in Your GPS traces and in public GPS trace listings. Data served via the API does not reference your trace page. Timestamps of the trace points are not available through the public GPS API, though points are chronologically ordered. However, other users are still able to download the raw trace from the public trace list and any timestamps contained within.
  • Trackable means that the trace will not show up in any public listings but trackpoints from it will still be available through the public GPS API with timestamps. Other users will only be able to download processed trackpoints from your trace which can't be associated with you directly.
  • Private means that the trace will not show up in any public listings, but trackpoints from it will still be available in timeline order through the public GPS API without timestamps.

Some editors (e.g., JOSM) show time related information of GPS traces if the editor can get the timestamps. This time related information may be useful for inferring traffic data or mapping features, for example, stopping at traffic signals, driving on legal maximum speed, and so on. However timestamp information is not so important for most mapping purposes. Clearly the trace coordinates (latitude and longitude points) are the main thing we're interested in. With this in mind you may decide to only reveal the trace coordinates to others without timestamps, if you are more comfortable with the slightly increased level of privacy this brings.

Also note that even if it is not in public list, someone might associate these trackpoints with you indirectly; i.e., inferring that trackpoints in a sparsely populated area must have come from the user that also edited data there. Data edits (ways/nodes/tags etc.) are always publicly associated with your username.

See our Privacy Policy for more information about privacy.

See this talk page section if you wonder why your uploaded traces do not appear (or appear dotted) in the "OpenStreetMap GPS traces" layer in iD.