Microsoft Building Import - North Central Texas

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Licensing/Data Used

This import will conduct a simple import of the Microsoft Building Footprints for the North Central Texas area, as no compatible data source for building footprints is available in the region.

The data is released under an OSM-compatible ODbL license.

Import Process

Preparing the Data

  • The buildings were extracted from the state-wide dataset provided by Microsoft.
  • Since no suitable and compatible data source was found to classify buildings by use, all buildings will simply receive a building=yes tag.
  • Buildings were separated into import-friendly chunks by census tract, then converted to .OSM format using ogr2osm. A sample of the data can be downloaded from here

The import will be operated out of the OSM-US tasking manager, which includes specific import instructions in each project


Users conducting the import should follow these instructions. These are also included in each Tasking manager project.

Getting Started

  1. For questions about a specific area, you can use the comment area in the tasking manager. For general questions, you can message user Andrew Matheny or join the #dallas channel on the OSM-US Slack
  2. You will need to install the utilsplugin2 and todo JOSM plugins and activate the Remote Control feature in your preferences
  3. Please read this article for a basic introduction to Microsoft Building Footprints.
  4. Open a Todo list window by going to the "Windows" menu and selecting Todo list

Import Process


IMPORTANT: Use Mapbox Satellite Imagery for alignment purposes

1. Download the edit area in JOSM using the tasking manager

2. Perform a search for building=* to select all buildings currently in OSM, then use the "Add" button in the Todo List plug-in window to add them to your list. You will review these buildings later to ensure no overlapping buildings are imported

3. Click the [Download Data] link in the task instructions to open the building footprints in a new JOSM layer

4. Copy and paste all the features from the import layer into the active OSM layer using Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, and then Ctrl+Alt+V after activating the OSM download layer

NOTE: Rural areas with larger census tracts or particularly dense urban tracts with lots of buildings may (and perhaps should) be further broken up into manageable chunks. This also ensures that you can provide the proper amount of review necessary to reduce conflicts.

5. Compare building footprints with imagery, adjusting alignment and adding details/improving the building as needed

5.1. Pay close attention to buildings with complex shapes (like apartments) or buildings with multiple angles, as these seem to need the most work on alignment/rotation/shape or should be multipolygons but are missing their inner way. Houses are generally OK.

5.2. Check for overlapping existing buildings: Use the Todo list to work through the existing buildings and ensure no overlaps exist. If a building already exists, use the Replace Geometry (Ctrl+Alt+G) feature to preserve the history

5.3. If the building is part of an existing multipolygon, delete the building tag from the imported footprint and use the Replace Geometry Feature on the inner and/or outer ways that already exist. **Keep the membership in the existing relation**

5.4. Optional Step: If you encounter buildings where a better use tag would be obvious while armchair mapping and hand-tracing the buildings (such as building=house in residential subdivisions), consider replacing the standard building tag with a better one.

6. Run the JOSM validator and fix all errors from the buildings

7. Upload the changeset with a comment that includes the phrase "Microsoft building import #osmus-tasks-[Project number] #NCTX #DFWOSM" and the source as "Microsoft Building Footprints; Mapbox Satellite".

This is actual deceit. Mapbox is only used for alignment and in reality has rarely been used so.

8. You can use the comment field in the tasking manager to note anything you observe, such as needed TIGER fix-up that would benefit the community later.

OSM-US Tasking Manager Projects

Counties No. Tracts No. Buildings Started Complete OSM-US Tasking Manager Project
Phase I: Dallas-Fort Worth Metro area 968 ~1,768,768 Nov 2018 -
--Dallas & Tarrant Counties --525 ~549,585 Nov 2018 Oct 2019 Project #95
--Collin, Denton, and Rockwall Counties --278 Nov 2018 Project #96
--Outlying counties --165 Nov 2018 Project #97
Grand Totals 968