Following on from our blog post introducing our mapping efforts, we want to explain how we’re adding things to Open Street Map so that others can join in.

This is all a work-in-progress because we’ll only get a good understanding of the grain of the data by actually trying to add things to the map. It’s also a collaborative process, so we’re keen to hear other opinions and ideas about how to do this better. We won’t get everything right straight from the off, but that’s fine - the Open Street Map data set is never going to be complete, and items can always be updated: errors fixed, more detail added, and so on, over time.

We’ll update this page with any changes to the “best practice”, but have also created a companion Google doc where everyone can discuss and refine the process.

Editing Open Street Map

Editing Open Street Map is a pretty easy process. Once you’ve signed up for an account and logged in, you’ll be able to click on the “Edit” button on the map.

To check the detail on the map, find the location you’re interested in and then use the “?” tool (at the bottom of the toolbar on the right-hand side of the map) to query an area of the map. Clicking on the item you’re interested in will show a list of enclosing and nearby features on the left, and choosing one of them will list all the tags and detail in the map. Not everything gets turned into something that’s displayed in the default view, so querying the feature is the best way to see exactly what has and hasn’t been mapped.

If there’s something you can add to the map, clicking on “Edit” in the menu at the top will load the in-browser editor.

There’s more information on editing in the Open Street Map beginner’s guide but for our purposes the basics are as follows:

  • If the company that you want to map is already partly mapped, then select the relevant building or point on the map. Then fill in the new details in the pane on the left - either in the predefined fields such as “name” or “address”, or by clicking on the “+” at the bottom of the list of tags and then filling in the tag name and value.

  • If the company isn’t already listed, and takes up an entire building then draw round the outline of the building (it will load the satellite view which should let you see where to draw) as a new “Area”. Once you’ve drawn the area, then mark it as a building and fill in the details as above.

  • If the company shares the building with others (or you aren’t sure) then add it as a “Point” and fill in the details in the same was as if it was already mapped.

Once you’re happy with the changes you’ve made, click on “Save” and add a comment to explain what’s been updated (to help others understand why you’ve made the alteration/addition).

Congratulations, you’ve contributed to Open Street Map. You’ll have to wait until the tiles have been regenerated to see the change on the main site, which might take a day or so; and some types of data aren’t rendered for the standard layers - in that case you can use the Overpass Turbo links below to check your changes.

What to Map

Now we’ve covered how to edit the map, what sort of things are we looking to include?

We’ve listed the main types of companies, spaces, etc. below and have listed which tags to include to categorize them. Obviously, the more detail you can include the better, but don’t feel that you can only add something to the map if you know all of the information.

For all entries it would be good to include the name and address, plus tags such as “website” and “opening_hours” (for example, the value for that might be “Mo-Th 14:00-18:00; Fr 14:00-22:00”).

Makerspaces, Hackspaces and Fablabs

Makerspaces, hackspaces and fablabs should be tagged with “workshop=fablab” and “leisure=hackerspace”. For official FabLabs, include “network=Fablab”

Manufacturing Services

These are firms that provide services to help other people to make things, as opposed to factories that produce some sort of finished product. So a company that does PCB assembly, for example, or who provide a CNC milling service.

Tag them with “industrial=machine_shop”.

There isn’t a clear pre-defined tag to use to mark the services provided. We’re going to start with the “craft” tag as that seems the nearest match and we’re building a list of recommended values on the discussion document.


Factories are places that make finished goods. Those goods might be used as inputs for other products, but they differ from the manufacturing services firms in that the latter will produce items to your custom specification whereas factories produce goods which are off-the-peg.

Tag them with “man_made=works” and “industrial=factory”.

Include details of what is produced with the “product” tag. You can get an idea of common values for that in the list of existing product values.

Trade Counters

These are the engineering merchants, timber yards, etc. where you can buy parts and supplies.

Tag them with “shop=trade”.

Exploring the Data

As we mentioned earlier, not all the data that we’re collecting will show up in the default views on Open Street Map. We’ll be building a custom map to show them, but until that’s ready you can use Overpass Turbo to query the data and view it on a map.

We’ve created queries for the key types we’re mapping, so follow the links to see all the makerspaces, hackspaces and fablabs; all factories; all manufacturing services or all trade counters.

All of those links will query the live dataset (which might take a few moments to populate the map when the page loads), so they’ll improve as more detail is added to the map.