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I do not know whether something like this is possible but nonetheless.

If I understand OSM correctly all objects essentially have associated tags based on type of object (street, building etc) ...

I want to use QGIS (or something else). The idea is to obtain the statistics of different commonly used tags in that area so that I can have an idea of the feature distribution.

Any suggestion (using other software or format is welcome)

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I did not know that i had to accept the best answer ...thank you i will make sure that i accept it henceforth – GeoH2O Mar 5 '12 at 20:45
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Do you want to do something like "count the number of buildings in area x"?

You can do that in QGIS

  1. Load the OSM file using Openstreetmap plugin.
  2. Check the attribute table now.
  3. A query such as tags LIKE '%"building"%' should select only those features which have the building tag

To get statistics per area, I'd suggest the following approach:

  1. Select buildings like described above
  2. export the features to Shapefile using "Save as ..." from layer context menu
  3. Replace building polygons by centroids
  4. Use "Points in polygon" tool to count points per area

If you are selecting the area manually using e.g. freehand selection tool:

  1. Select all features within your region
  2. Use "Search only selected" option in attribute table and
  3. Use above mentioned query
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Yes i do understand that, the problem is that my area size is a bit larger and i want to select irregular polygons manually and yes i am using the above approach presently – GeoH2O Mar 6 '12 at 21:19

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