Tools for Contributing to the OpenStreetMap Project

Okay, I admit it, I'm a closet cartographer. There are few things that excite me like looking at, building, and working with maps. Luckily for me the OpenStreetMap (OSM) Project was born and I started contributing back in 2008. Back when I was starting contributing I was making minor changes to the TIGER map data, cleaning up the bad data that peppered my local town. Today I'm still cleaning up data but I'm also adding points of interest (POIs), such as restaurants, shops, and hotels, and also address information that makes the overall data more useful to consumers.

The tools used to edit and collect mapping data have improved over the past few months with many applications coming to the Android operating system. The physical size of many Android devices allows field collection of data without having to lug around a laptop. With many of the features now available on the portable platform, collecting mapping data is easier than ever.

Tools of the Trade


Still the workhorse tool of my contributions, I use the Java OpenStreetMap Editor (JOSM) for most of my edits on the project. Whether I'm using GPX files of trails and roads collected from the field or adding POIs and other map features from satellite imagery, JOSM makes it easy to make advanced additions and changes. Many mapping programs use JOSM as a springboard for their data to get into the OpenStreetMap repositories. If you are serious about working with OSM data then you should get comfortable with using JOSM.


OsmAnd Maps and Navigation, an Android, is usually marketed as a program for viewing OSM data and using it for navigating from one point to another. This program allows you to download, directly to your device, the mapping data which is quite helpful if you don't have an Internet connection to get this data like other mapping solutions.

From a contributor's point of view, OsmAnd allows you to create GPX track files that can be later edited with JOSM and also allows you to create, and upload directly to OSM, POIs such at restaurants that you may be visiting at the time. This is a great feature for me as I will sometimes find myself somewhere that isn't officially on the map.

Keypad-Mapper 3

Keypad-Mapper 3 is an Android application that allows easy mapping of house numbers. Using JOSM or Potlatch 2, the online OSM editor, Keypad-Mapper data can be imported, verified, and then uploaded into the OSM repositories.

Other applications

Other software is available to collect, modify, and use OSM mapping data. If maps interest you or if you are just looking for a good, open source mapping solution take a look at OSM and enjoy the large amount of global work that goes into the project every day.