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Characteristics of Heavily Edited Objects in OpenStreetMap

DOI: 10.3390/fi4010285

Keywords: OpenStreetMap, collaborative editing, volunteered geographic information, spatial data

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Abstract:

This paper describes the results of an analysis of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) database for the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland (correct to April 2011). 15, 640 OSM ways (polygons and polylines), resulting in 316, 949 unique versions of these objects, were extracted and analysed from the OSM database for the UK and Ireland. In our analysis we only considered “heavily edited” objects in OSM: objects which have been edited 15 or more times. Our results show that there is no strong relationship between increasing numbers of contributors to a given object and the number of tags (metadata) assigned to it. 87% of contributions/edits to these objects are performed by 11% of the total 4128 contributors. In 79% of edits additional spatial data (nodes) are added to objects. The results in this paper do not attempt to evaluate the OSM data as good/poor quality but rather informs potential consumers of OSM data that the data itself is changing over time. In developing a better understanding of the characteristics of “heavily edited” objects there may be opportunities to use historical analysis in working towards quality indicators for OSM in the future.

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