Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A coworker of mine was recently given permission to import our local county government's GIS data into OpenStreetMap. I've made single edits on the OpenStreetMap site before, but I have never imported entire datasets. Where do we start?

Also, are there any tools that help automate a task like this? I'm assuming there should be a decent amount of custom scripting involved to handle the local GIS's schema. I would like to see how other people have handled this problem.

It's also likely that we could get data from other local governments in the future, so if there is anything that would help relieve the burden of building a custom import system multiple times, I would be interested.

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Before you start importing, you probably should read over the import guidelines on the OSM wiki and then email the Imports mailing list and as I see you're in the USA, the talk-us mailing list with any ideas and plans.

As you're probably aware, OSM data in its own xml-based format, so you'll have to convert your data to .osm.

I'm presuming that your files are initially in .SHP ? If so, you'll want to convert the shp to an ogr (I just did it manually in qgis). Then, you'll want to use ogr2osm, a python script that converts the OGR file to .osm and uses a translation file to select what features, attributes you want to import from your data and then "translate" them to the corresponding OSM tags. There's other software to import, but

Here's one overview of someone who recently used ogr2osm in Kansas, importing TIGER data.

In my only import (a pretty simple one, outlined at that link, I used ogr2osm and didn't need to write a translation file, since I added 2 tags to it.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for a great starting point. I will look into this. – Tanner Aug 2 '12 at 19:32

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.