Mapping our colony


There are OpenStreetMap (OSM) tools to extract buildings from selected regions. OSM extraction tool is one such utility, link.

Customized neighborhood maps can be created with extensions (hiring, help, events etc.) that community benefits. These could be overlaid with the blueprints of the colony.

OSM contributions

OSM is an open mapping platform (unlike Google maps). Several products and services leverage OSM (ex: mapbox). Previously, I mapped multiple entities (health facilities, plots, parks etc.) in our colony and nearby places. Take a look at the contributions.

Communities around the world organize mapathons inviting user contributions. We could organize some to extend the coverage of the mapping in our locality and other places of interest.

Elevation maps

Elevation data is shared by NASA and subsequently other downstream services. Google elevation API too provides elevation attribute for a given latitude and longitude. This can be used to construct elevation maps which will be useful to citizens while (re-)constructing houses, (re-)building culverts for rain water and other purposes.

Weather stations

Weather stations that monitor rainfall can be placed at strategic locations in neighborhoods (if existing station data is not leveraged). Combined with local and elevation maps, augmented weather information will be crucial for citizens and local businesses.


SEPRWA (association) maintains physical records of different documents for record keeping. 2020 floods damaged some of the files prompting the digitization idea.

How to contribute to OpenStreetMap?

I currently use two approaches:

  1. web browser-based iD editor

Visit OSM website, login (create an account if you don’t have one), zoom to a comfortable level and click on Edit option on top left (pick iD option if prompted).

One can create new entities (nodes, paths, areas), edit existing ones, add translations in different languages etc.

I use it to add missing buildings, and to add Telugu translations for entity names.

  1. StreetComplete Android app

StreetComplete is an excellent way to add relational data to existing OSM entities. The interface is slick and gamified so users of any experience level can contribute easily.

The app can be best used when you’re walking around a neighborhood or mapping your nearby (by sharing location) surroundings.


a) how many floors does the house have?
b) does the street have side walkways?
c) is the street lit?