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OpenStreetMap Data Case Study

Author: David Venturi

Date: June 15, 2016

Map Area

Toronto, ON, Canada

Dataset. This extract actually contains information for the Greater Toronto Area.

Toronto is my hometown. I'm curious to see the contributions to the map so far, how messy the data is, and what we can reveal about the city via query.

Identifying Problems in the Map

After taking a 1% sample of the 1.14 GB dataset using, I used three techniques to identify problems in the sample:

  1. Scrolling through the Unix less command output to view portions of the data in their original form.
  2. Analyzing the script output to view unusual street names and postal codes.
  3. Analyzing the CSV files created by the script to view the data (in format) before and after cleaning code was applied.

Problems Encountered in the Map

Simplified versions of code cleaning the following problems are presented below.

Overabbreviated street names

Spell out all street types and directions.

  • "Nonquon Rd" to "Nonquon Road"
  • "Main St N" to "Main Street North"
nth_re = re.compile(r'\d\d?(st|nd|rd|th|)', re.IGNORECASE)
nesw_re = re.compile(r'\s(North|East|South|West)$')

mapping = { 
            "St": "Street",
            "St.": "Street",
            "Ave": "Avenue",
            "Ave.": "Avenue",
            "S.": "South",
            "S": "South",
            "W.": "West",
            "W": "West"

street_mapping = {
				   # same as above, minus North, East, South, West

    original_name = name
    for key in mapping.keys():
        # Only replace when mapping key match (e.g. "St.") is found at end of name
        type_fix_name = re.sub(r'\s' + re.escape(key) + r'$', ' ' + mapping[key], original_name)
        nesw =
        if nesw is not None:
            for key in street_mapping.keys():
                # Do not update correct names like St. Clair Avenue West
                dir_fix_name = re.sub(r'\s' + re.escape(key) + re.escape(, \
                					  " " + street_mapping[key] +, type_fix_name)
                if dir_fix_name != type_fix_name:
                    return dir_fix_name
        if type_fix_name != original_name:
            return type_fix_name
return original_name

Inconsistent street names

Spell "Lines" numbered ten and under.

  • "6th Line" to "Sixth Line"
num_line_street_re = re.compile(r'\d0?(st|nd|rd|th|)\s(Line)$', re.IGNORECASE)

num_line_mapping = {
                     "1st": "First",
                     "2nd": "Second",
                     "3rd": "Third",
                     "9th": "Ninth",
                     "10th": "Tenth"

if num_line_street_re.match(name):
    nth =
    name = num_line_mapping[] + " Line"
    return name

Consistently format York-Durham Line.

  • "York & Durham Line" to "York-Durham Line"
  • "York/Durham Line" to "York-Durham Line"
elif name == "York & Durham Line" or name == "York/Durham Line":
    name = "York-Durham Line"
    return name

Incorrect phone number format

Convert, where necessary, to international format with spaces: "+1 ### ### ####".

  • "416-555-1234" to "+1 416 555 1234"
  • "4165551234" to "+1 416 555 1234"
  • "1 (416) 555-1234" to "+1 416 555 1234"
PHONENUM = re.compile(r'\+1\s\d{3}\s\d{3}\s\d{4}')

def update_phone_num(phone_num):
    # Check for valid phone number format
    m = PHONENUM.match(phone_num)
    if m is None:
        # Convert all dashes to spaces
        if "-" in phone_num:
            phone_num = re.sub("-", " ", phone_num)
        # Remove all brackets
        if "(" in phone_num or ")" in phone_num:
            phone_num = re.sub("[()]", "", phone_num)
        # Space out 10 straight numbers
        if re.match(r'\d{10}', phone_num) is not None:
            phone_num = phone_num[:3] + " " + phone_num[3:6] + " " + phone_num[6:]
        # Space out 11 straight numbers
        elif re.match(r'\d{11}', phone_num) is not None:
            phone_num = phone_num[:1] + " " + phone_num[1:4] + " " + phone_num[4:7] \
            			+ " " + phone_num[7:]
        # Add full country code
        if re.match(r'\d{3}\s\d{3}\s\d{4}', phone_num) is not None:
            phone_num = "+1 " + phone_num
        # Add + in country code
        elif re.match(r'1\s\d{3}\s\d{3}\s\d{4}', phone_num) is not None:
            phone_num = "+" + phone_num
        # Ignore tag if no area code and local number (<10 digits)
        elif sum(c.isdigit() for c in phone_num) < 10:
            return None
    return phone_num

Province code not used

Convert full province name to province code.

  • "Ontario" to "ON"
# Change Ontario to ON
if province == 'Ontario':
    province = 'ON'

Incorrect postal code format

Convert letters to upper case and separate the character trios with a space.

  • "a1b 2c3" to "A1B 2C3"
  • "A1B2C3" to "A1B 2C3"
# See code for next header

Incomplete and incorrect postal codes

Discard postal codes that are not in the correct Canadian format, i.e., A1A 1A1, where A is a capital letter and 1 is an integer.

  • "L4B"
  • "M36 0H7"
POSTCODE = re.compile(r'[A-z]\d[A-z]\s?\d[A-z]\d')

m = POSTCODE.match(post_code)
    if m is not None:
        # Add space in middle if there is none
        if " " not in post_code:
            post_code = post_code[:3] + " " + post_code[3:]
        # Convert to upper case
        new['value'] = post_code.upper()
        # Keep zip code revealed in postal code audit for document deletion purposes
        if post_code[:5] == "14174":
            new['value'] = post_code
        # Ignore tag if improper postal code format
            return None

An American invasion

Via auditing the postal codes and subsequently cleaning them with the above code, I noticed an American ZIP code. Let's examine:

sqlite> SELECT * FROM Nodes
        WHERE id IN (SELECT DISTINCT(id) FROM nodesTags WHERE key = "postcode" AND value = "14174");
sqlite> SELECT * FROM nodesTags WHERE id="3443667462";
3443667462|street|Woodland Court|addr

Let's check Google Maps:

451 Woodland Court, Youngstown, NY 14174

So "451 Woodland Court, Youngstown, NY 14174" is right on the Canada-US border. The rows with this ID are easily deleted from the database using DELETE statements:

sqlite> DELETE FROM Nodes WHERE id="3443667462";
sqlite> DELETE FROM nodesTags WHERE id="3443667462";

Data Overview

This section contains basic statistics about the Toronto OpenStreetMap dataset and the SQL queries used to gather them.

File sizes

toronto_canada.osm  1.14 GB
toronto.db          679 MB
nodes.csv           382.1 MB
nodes_tags.csv      84.8 MB
ways.csv            39.3 MB       120.7 MB
ways_tags.csv       85.6 MB

Number of unique users



Number of nodes

sqlite> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM Nodes;


Number of ways

sqlite> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM Ways;


Top 10 contributing users

sqlite> SELECT e.user, COUNT(*) as num
        FROM (SELECT user FROM Nodes UNION ALL SELECT user FROM Ways) e
        GROUP BY e.user
        ORDER BY num DESC
        LIMIT 10;
andrewpmk			3320719
MikeyCarter			480722
Kevo				436391
Victor Bielawski	159243
Bootprint			158319
Mojgan Jadidi		100749
geobase_stevens		80551
rw__				75865
Gerit Wagner		43306
brandoncote			37884

First contribution

sqlite> SELECT timestamp FROM Nodes UNION SELECT timestamp From Ways
        ORDER BY timestamp
        LIMIT 1;


Number of Tim Hortons

sqlite> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM nodesTags WHERE value LIKE '%Tim Hortons%';

478 (includes standalone stores and stores within gas stations, highway service centres, etc.)

Tim Hortons Store

Most popular cuisines

sqlite> SELECT nodesTags.value, COUNT(*) as num
        FROM nodesTags
            JOIN (SELECT DISTINCT(id) FROM nodesTags WHERE value='restaurant') i
        WHERE nodesTags.key='cuisine'
        GROUP BY nodesTags.value
        ORDER BY num DESC
        LIMIT 10;
chinese		141
indian		93
italian		83
japanese	80
pizza		54
sushi		54
thai		51
vietnamese	43
american	32
breakfast	32


Most popular bank

sqlite> SELECT nodesTags.value, COUNT(*) as num
        FROM nodesTags
            JOIN (SELECT DISTINCT(id) FROM nodesTags WHERE value='bank') i
        WHERE nodesTags.key='name'
        GROUP BY nodesTags.value
        ORDER BY num DESC
        LIMIT 5;
TD Canada Trust			224
Scotiabank				147
CIBC					127
BMO Bank of Montreal	89
RBC						76

TD Canada Trust

Percentage of wheelchair accessible nodes

sqlite> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM nodesTags WHERE key='wheelchair' AND value='yes'


sqlite> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM nodesTags WHERE key='wheelchair';


2491/3303 = 75.4%

Dataset Improvement

Let's look back at two queries performed above to perform a new query:

Number of nodes

sqlite> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM Nodes;


Number of nodes with wheelchair accessibility information

sqlite> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM nodesTags WHERE key='wheelchair';


Percentage of nodes with wheelchair accessibility information

3303 / 4765469 = 0.069%

Approximately 0.07% of the nodes in the dataset contain wheelchair accessibility information. That seems like a strikingly low number, even with a large amount of nodes being private property (e.g. homes).

One way to improve this number is to leverage the public data provided by AccessTO, the Toronto Accessible Venues List (TAVL), and similar resources. Accessibility information for hundreds of restaurants, cafes, tourist attractions, community centers, and other public spaces could be added to the dataset. Programmatically extracting the yes/no information and adding it to the OpenStreetMap dataset would likely be most efficient. The more detailed comments in the TAVL spreadsheet could even be programmatically added under the OpenStreetMap "note" key. One difficulty would be dealing with naming inconsistencies between AccessTO/TAVL data and nodes already in the OpenStreetMap dataset, though this could be overcome with careful string handling and a human verifying inputted data.



The Toronto OpenStreetMap dataset is a quite large and quite messy. While it is clear that the data is not 100% clean, I believe it was sufficiently cleaned for the purposes of this project. Via SQL query, I learned a few new things about my hometown. The dataset is very useful, though areas for improvement exist.