Issues with government trail data

I posted this to the mailing list as well, but since this announcement came on the forums I posting here as well.

I find it very hypocritical that land managers are complaining about OpenStreetMap trail data when their own data is full of inaccuracies. Perhaps Utah is different, but just around the area where I live in Colorado I have found hundreds of errors in government trail data, including cases of:

  1. Trails being mislocated by up to a third of a mile.

  2. Trails that do not exist, or are in such poor shape as to not be considered trails, in the government data.

  3. Official trails (as evidenced by signs and other government documents) that do exist, but which are not in the government data, e.g.

  4. Trails whose on the ground signage as to name, and number do not match the government data. e.g.

  5. Trails whose on the ground signage as to allowed usage do not match the government data.

  6. Duplicate trails e.g.

  7. Topological issues in government trail data, e.g. two trails that are connected in reality, but are not in the government data.

  8. Government data including trails that are posted “no trespassing”

In some cases the government trail data is over ten years out of date!


Unless we are very careful, attempts to “improve” OSM with government data is likely to lead to a degradation of the quality of OSM!

There seems to be a reluctance on the part of land managers to admit they have a problem, or do anything about it.

The problem is so bad that a local television station did an investigative report on it:

I gave a presentation at GIS in the Rockies on the matter:

GISTR 2023 Presentation - Government Trail Data Quality

6 posts - 4 participants

Read full topic

Ce sujet de discussion accompagne la publication sur