Assessing the Effect of Data Imports on the Completeness of OpenStreetMap – A United States Case Study


Address for correspondence: Dennis Zielstra, Geomatics Program, University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL-33314, USA. E-mail:


The assessment of OpenStreetMap (OSM) data quality has become an interdisciplinary research area over the recent years. The question of whether the OSM road network should be updated through periodic data imports from public domain data, or whether the currency of OSM data should rather rely on more traditional data collection efforts by active contributors, has led to perpetual debates within the OSM community. A US Census TIGER/Line 2005 import into OSM was accomplished in early 2008, which generated a road network foundation for the active community members in the US. In this study we perform a longitudinal analysis of road data for the US by comparing the development of OSM and TIGER/Line data since the initial TIGER/Line import. The analysis is performed for the 50 US states and the District of Columbia, and 70 Urbanized Areas. In almost all tested states and Urbanized Areas, OSM misses roads for motorized traffic when compared with TIGER/Line street data, while significant contributions could be observed in pedestrian related network data in OSM compared with corresponding TIGER/Line data. We conclude that the quality of OSM road data could be improved through new OSM editor tools allowing contributors to trace current TIGER/Line data.