Mapping Munich in a weekend

Early on Saturday morning I got up to catch a train to Munich so I could meet up with a small group of other OpenStreetMap people with the aim of mapping the centre of Munich in a weekend.

I'm not a big fan of mornings but still I managed to get up early enough that I'd arrive into Munich not too long after the others had met. I arrived there, a little bleary eyed from snoozing on the train, and headed to Marien Platz to meet Ralf - the organiser - to find out which part of the city I should go off to map.

I went off to map inside the north western corner of Munich's Inner Ring road with a newcomer to the project. Mapping an inner city area, as I discovered when starting to map Stuttgart, is not an easy task. The GPS units stuggle because of the tall buildings and often narrow streets. It's difficult for them to keep a lock on the satellites, and when they do there is often still interference from all the buildings around that leads to tracks not being anywhere near as accurate as desired.

After a few hours of mapping it was time for lunch and time to meet the others. There were a group of eight of us, each paired up to take a part of the city centre. I struggled through lunch trying to understand as much of the German language conversation as I could, not really able to add much because my German's not good enough to butt into conversations with yet. After a pizza and a beer, it was time to go back to our areas and finish up the mapping.

By the time we all met again in late afternoon we were all starting to feel a little sore under foot, so happily sat down to see how we had all progressed on the first day. There was a slight worry at one point, after downloading the tracks from one type of GPS unit (the NaviGPS, which most of the group had) appeared to have no data from the morning. It turned out later on that evening that the data hadn't been lost, but for some reason there were some issues with the SD cards that the GPS units save the tracklogs onto, meaning that not all the files were showing.

By the morning, Joerg had printed out some updated maps to work from, as we'd all agreed that it was much easier to fill streets in on a skeleton map than to try and start from scratch. Some of the areas hadn't been mapped as a few of us didn't have the ability to go in and draw street segments on top of the GPS tracks, but Joerg and Ralf had both managed to do at least some amount of mapping the streets online in OpenStreetMap from the previous day.

There were four of us on Sunday, two on bike and two of us not. The two of us not on bikes headed down towards Museumsinsel - the location of the Deutsches Museum - to map that area before meeting for lunch. After lunch came another couple of hours of mapping an area around Ost Bahnhof.

After all of that walking, we still need to go in and create all this data in the OSM wiki based on our GPS tracks, notes, diagrams and memory. That's what I've been doing tonight, and still there are a lot of names I have to fill in from the map we drew. Already though, the central area of Munich is looking much more densely covered with map data than before the weekend.