Category Archives: osm

How to get a dataset out of OpenStreetMap (OSM) and into QGIS easily

For small datasets just use the QuickOSM plugin, enter your key=value and it will load the data directly as QGIS layer(s).

For big datasets don’t run massive queries on the Overpass API but use prepared thematic or regional OpenStreetMap extracts.

For example, if you want all things tagged place=town globally, grab from and run a filter on that locally.

Don’t be scared of processing a global OSM planet file either, Osmium makes filtering OSM data extremely easy:

osmium tags-filter in.osm.pbf n/place=town -o place=town.osm.pbf

Yes, a planet file is pretty big, but extracting specific features from that is not a big data problem and you must not be scared of it. Downloading the file will probably take you magnitudes longer than extracting something from it. For me it was 45 minutes for the download, then about 8 minutes for extracting on a seriously slow (~60MB/s) spinning metal hard disk drive (no SSD).

And yes, you can load OSM PBF directly into QGIS thanks to GDAL’s support for the format.

While we are at it: Don’t use GeoJSON for anything but data transfer and maybe storage. It is not an efficient format to power your layers and GIS analyses. (OSM PDF isn’t either.)

(Not) Solving #quiztime with a spatial relationship query in Overpass-Turbo

I saw a #quiztime on Twitter and it looked like a perfect geospatial puzzle so I had to give it a try:

So we have something called “Lidl” which I know is a supermarket. And we have something else, with a potential name ending in “nden”. And that’s it.

If you have a global OSM database, this would be a simple query away. If you don’t have a global OSM database, the Overpass API let’s you query one. And overpass turbo can make it fun (not in this case though, I had a lot of trial and error until I found these nice examples in the Wiki).

I ended up looking for things within 50 meters to a Lidl named “-nden”





(._;>;);  // whatever? 

Too far away from the Lidl.

But driving around the place in Google StreetView I could not find the spot and it does not look very much like the photo.

So I guess my query is fine but either the "thing" or the Lidl are not in OSM yet.

Oh well, I did learn something new (about Overpass) and it was fun. :)