Last year I did my first mapping during my holiday. I guess any reason would be a valid reason to contribute spare time to OpenStreetMap (OSM), but in this particular case the bird zoo we were going to was hardly mapped on OSM. For OSM mappers this can only mean one thing: a great opportunity to bring value with a mapping contribution. And so I did.

Last year

Without an internet connection at the time (last year), it was hard to get a GPS fix, and even then my battery would run out of juicy pretty quickly. So I finally ended up writing some notes, taking some pictures, and do the final OSM mapping with the Bing sattelite imagery and the zoo’s map I got at the entrance. I was able to crank out the zoo roughly, but I know things could have been better. Well, a good initial step.

This year

We went to the same place, and decided to visit the same zoo. That again meant a clear opportunity to contribute to OSM. Looking at the current state of the mapping, little to nothing had changed since my mapping last year, so every improvement would be a clear win. And I already knew there was still some low-hanging fruit.


I still lack a mobile internet connection internationally, and from experience I know my Fairphone 2 without network assistance or WIFI maps (which I assumed would be of no use at the park) would take about 15 minutes to get a proper fix. So unless I would get a hold of some powerbank solution, using GPS and mapping with OSMTracker for Android would be a no-go. I went looking for a solution in my solution provider F-Droid.


Most notably I came across Tabulae which should be able to download OSM map tiles locally for offline viewing, and enable some point of interest commits. I was able to get an initial preview, but downloading the tiles failed on multiple occasions. My best bet is that the shipped version of Tabulae is no longer compatible with the latest OSM tile URL’s.


Eventually I came back to my trusted OSM client OsmAnd~. Lucally my changes of last year were already included in the map version I had loaded, so I could use it as a base.

Mapping with OsmAnd~

Although OsmAnd~ offers an explicit plugin feature to take video and audio notes, my approach was much more makeshift. I created a seperate category in my favorites, dedicated for mapping notes. To add a note on a particular place on the map, I would touch the location and add it as a favorite in the mapping category. The name of the favorite, which can be quite long, would hint me to what was going on. Mapping the final outcome was also supported by pictures I took, to provide a better reference.

Steps summarized
  1. Install OsmAnd~, download the latest map of what you are about to map (as a reference).

  2. Create a seperate favorite category in OsmAnd~ to prevent interference with your normal favorites.

  3. Navigate in the app towards the location you want to put a note, select it, and add a favorite.

  4. Name the favorite to give the most useful description.

  5. Take additional pictures, notes, video, and sound recordings seperately to provide more information if desired.

  6. Use your favorites and additional notes to make your contribution to OpenStreetMap.