How to Update OpenStreetMaps

Road Information for Overlanders

Information about road quality and new roads and bridges is extremely valuable for overlanders. Travellers frequently add them to our "Other" category. However, iOverlander is not the best place for such information. Tools like Google Maps and OpenStreetMap (OSM) were designed to provide road information and contain much more complete road information than iOverlander ever will.

If you run into a road condition that isn't on the map and that is important for other travellers to know, it is best to put such information on OpenStreetMap.

iOverlander prefers OpenStreetMap, because like Wikipedia, everybody can contribute. OpenStreetMap data (both maps and points of interest) are used at many places where it isn't obvious that you are looking at OSM. For example the default maps program on iPhones (Apple maps) and some Garmin devices use OSM. Also most offline maps programs like Organic Maps, Maps.Me, OsmAnd, Map Tiler, MapBox and Navigator use OSM. All of these sound like different map companies, but they display OSM data. Updating points on OSM has an impact beyond just those of us that go directly to the OSM website: their data is much more widely distributed than it may seem!

You can best handle road related information as follows:

  • Road condition reports: 'bumpy roads', etc. - Add details to OSM. If a road is impassable and results in a delay of at least two hours, add it to the Warning category of iOverlander. Do not add it to the Other category;
  • New bridges and roads that are not on OpenStreetMap - Add the object to OpenStreetMap. Do NOT add to iOverlander.
  • Turnoffs to other places such as campgrounds - Add them in iOverlander, but in the category of the place that is being redirected to, like Established Campgrounds;
  • 4x4 routes that are a tourist attractions - Add them in iOverlander in the Tourist Attraction category;

Adding new roads or objects to OpenStreetMap may sound difficult, but isn't that hard. An app like OsmAnd enables you to add a point of interest, such as a post office, directly in the app, even while you are offline; changing or adding roads can most easily be done online using the editor on the OpenStreetMap website. Detailed instructions about the use of the editor can be found here.

Below are examples of some common map additions.

Opening the map for editing

  • Open OpenStreetMap in a browser (;
  • Select Edit > Edit with iD (in-browser editor);
  • If you do not have an account, you will be prompted to create one. It's easy!;
  • If you have a gpx file of your drive, you can drag it onto the map. The map will zoom in on the area of the map and the track will be shown. This is especially helpful if you want to add an object;
  • Zoom in as required to make map details visible. Sometimes you have to refresh the screen between edits.

Note: for more advanced editing the program JOSM is most suitable. JOSM is an extensible editor for OpenStreetMap (OSM) for Java 8+. It supports loading GPX tracks, background imagery, and OSM data from local sources as well as from online sources and allows to edit the OSM data (nodes, ways, and relations) and their metadata tags.

Opening the map

Editing an existing object

  • Click on the object you want to edit;
  • A panel is shown now with all properties of the selected object. You can change or add a property by typing or from a dropdown list, for example the name of a street or the surface.
Editing an existing object

Editing part of an existing object

Sometimes you want to edit a part of an existing object, for example if you want to add a specific surface to a part of a road.

  • Double click on the place where you want to make the split. A dot appears;
  • Right click on the dot and click the scissors;
  • Now edit the part that you want to change.

You can also use this method to add an object on the split, for example a fence.

Editing part of an existing object

Adding an object

You can add a new object, for example a road, using the shown satellite information and a gpx track.

  • Click "line" and create the road by clicking the track. End it with a double click
  • You now can add the properties of the line in the panel
Editing an existing object
Editing an existing object
Editing an existing object
Editing an existing object

Saving the result

  • When you are done editing click on "Save";
  • You now get a screen where you can enter a summary of the changes you made, for example "Roads added" and the sources you used.
Editing an existing object

About iOverlander

iOverlander is a website and mobile app created to help overlanders on the road find their next destination. Please help us improve our data by updating and adding places you have been.

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