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.


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.

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  • What OSM you're talking about? The "one OSM" or a local import? Is it possible to upload data to the main OSM database? – Magno C Oct 24 '17 at 9:49
  • Could you clarify what you mean referring to one OSM? Fundamentally, there's one OSM data set and any changes (whether you do an 'import' of 10,000 changes or just 1 change) that you make and upload on josm or on iD go into that big, single global, data set. You can download 'extracts' which is the OSM data restricted to a particular region or geographic area. – Will. Oct 24 '17 at 15:56
  • Uh. Ok. This is because I have my own planet OSM import in a local database and use it in my applications. By "the one" I mean the openstreetmap.org map. I thought that was only possible to import data to the local OSM database (your own server) and not to the main OSM database (online) that you can just edit. – Magno C Oct 24 '17 at 17:27

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