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A New Method for the Assessment of Spatial Accuracy and Completeness of OpenStreetMap Building Footprints

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (DICA), Politecnico di Milano, P.zza Leonardo Da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(8), 289;
Received: 29 April 2018 / Revised: 14 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 24 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoinformatics in Citizen Science)
PDF [2700 KB, uploaded 24 July 2018]


OpenStreetMap (OSM) is currently the largest openly licensed collection of geospatial data, widely used in many projects as an alternative to or integrated with authoritative data. One of the main criticisms against this dataset is that, being a collaborative product created mainly by citizens without formal qualifications, its quality has not been assessed and therefore its usage can be questioned for some applications. This paper provides a map matching method to check the spatial accuracy of the building footprint layer, based on a comparison with a reference dataset. Moreover, from the map matching and a similarity check, buildings can be detected and therefore an index of completeness can also be computed. This process has been applied in Lombardy, a region in Northern Italy, covering an area of 23,900 km2 and comprising respectively about 1 million buildings in OSM and 2.8 million buildings in the authoritative dataset. The results of the comparison show that the positional accuracy of the OSM buildings is at least compatible with the quality of the reference dataset at the scale of 1:5000 since the average deviation, with respect to the authoritative map, is below the expected tolerance of 3 m. The analysis of completeness, given in terms of the number of buildings appearing in the authoritative dataset and not present in OSM, shows an average percentage in the whole region equal to 57%. However, worth noting that the opposite, namely the number of buildings in OSM and not in the reference dataset, is not zero, but corresponds to 9%. The OSM building map can therefore be considered to be a valid base map for direct use (territorial frameworks, map navigation, urban analysis, etc.) and for derived use (background for the production of thematic maps) in all those cases where an accuracy corresponding to 1:5000 is required. Moreover it could be used for integrating the authoritative map at this scale (or smaller) where it is not complete and a rigorous quality certification in terms of metric precision is not required. View Full-Text
Keywords: GIS; digital cartography; algorithms; spatial accuracy; analysis; OpenStreetMap GIS; digital cartography; algorithms; spatial accuracy; analysis; OpenStreetMap

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Brovelli, M.A.; Zamboni, G. A New Method for the Assessment of Spatial Accuracy and Completeness of OpenStreetMap Building Footprints. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7, 289.

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