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Burke Centre could benefit from an updated map, including versions for the web, mobile, and print. The currently available map is low resolution and not interactive. This page will discuss what elements should be present in a newly updated map.

An alternative set of maps for Burke Centre exist at Very detailed with a great number of annotations.

Fairfax County has a Trails and Sidewalks Committee which among other things publish maps of trails in Fairfax County. There are a few of Burke Centre's trails in this map, however the vast majority are missing. Perhaps we should cooperate with the committee to push our changes to that map, or perhaps we could even persuade them to investigate and possibly promote OpenStreetMap as an avenue for expanding the trail coverage in Fairfax County.


  • Residents and visitors
  • Burke Centre staff


1. Provide map for walking the trails

This entails mapping all the trails in Burke Centre, a work that has largely been done before (as mentioned in the introduction), but could benefit from a revision and by contribution to a larger project (OpenStreetMap). This benefits Burke Centre by having the original source data (GPS tracks) as well as derived data (nodes, ways, relations, etc) hosted offsite with backups, as well as benefiting from other users updating and improving the map.

2. Improve map by adding bridges and stairs Adding stairs will help those who are disabled, using strollers, or biking to know what trails are accessible to them. Adding bridges and associated information (width, length, handrails, etc) will be useful to the Conservancy staff to have an inventory of bridges (and stairs) in Burke Centre.

3. Improve map by adding points of interest along the trails

This includes adding markers for tot lots, community centers, waste baskets, and other points of interest.

4. Improve map by adding sidewalks and fixing errors in streets

This will help with providing a complete picture of where good pedestrian access is available.

5. Add low level details for complete routing

Adding such things as building outlines, addresses, and driveways will allow complete door-to-door routing between any address and location in Burke Centre.


Geotagged photos of interesting scenes and amenities should be included or linked to the map.

Making map data available to a wide audience[edit]

Work with the Rails To Trails Conservancy to get the Burke Centre trails on Details about trail mapping can be found here. Seems a perfect partnership given the following quote from their site: "To-date our mapping work has been focused on rail-trails. However, to fully demonstrate and support communities’ active transportation systems, we need to make trail mapping information available to the public for all multi-use trails. To that end, we are undertaking a massive effort to map multi-use trails across the country with a specific focus on trail systems in urban areas."

Data rights[edit]

Regardless of whether we obtain the map data via volunteers or a consulting company, it is very important that Burke Centre obtain full rights to the data so as not to be locked in to using that same company in the future for any changes. This allows us to use the data however we see fit, and preferably to release that data under a license like Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0. If we were to use OSM this is the license that would be used (see more here).


OpenStreetMap (OSM) is quite possibly the best way to map Burke Centre. There are multiple tools available for editing maps, including web- and mobile-based apps. The data in OSM can be used by any number of mapping services, including developer tools from CloudMade.

Very briefly, in OSM every object is either a node (a single geographic location), a way (a linked-list of nodes), an area (a closed way), or a relation (a way to relate objects together).


There are a number of routing software available for both the web and mobile devices that use OSM data. We can do such things as find a route from a house to the Burke Centre Library by way of the paths and sidewalks. One such web software is YOURS. A demonstration site is at and more information is at this page.

MapQuest has recently launched a version of their site at which uses OSM data, and offers directions. There is also an Android application which provides directions for driving and walking, including along the paths and footways. They also have an open API which a custom Burke Centre app could use.

What to map[edit]

Deciding what to map and how to map it are two of the most difficult decisions that must be made. There is no limit to what can be mapped, however there must be a reason for mapping objects. The other difficulty is that for some objects, there are no agreed upon standards for mapping.

Neighborhoods and clusters[edit]

All 65 Clusters and 5 Neighborhoods should be mapped, both with a boundary and label.

Cluster common areas
Cluster Tax map Burke Centre Section
Martins Landing 0774 16 A, 0774 16 C (not 0774 16 B) 18B1, 18B2
Woodwalk 0774 01 0032 20
Clusters w/o common areas
Heritage Landing 0774 12 (lots 1-6 and 8-42 inclusive, 43A, 44A, 45-58 inclusive 32


Most roads in Burke Centre are already in OSM thanks to a massive import of US Census TIGER data, however there are errors with some roads that need to be corrected. Most roads in Burke Centre are residential highways, though pipestems should be tagged differently.

Residential Streets[edit]

Rationale: Most streets in Burke Centre are located within neighborhoods, and are critical to navigating.

How to map: Residential streets should be created as ways tagged with the following:

Tag Description Example
highway=residential Designates street as residential.
name=* Name of road, without abbreviations. Martins Landing Court
operator=* Entity responsible for the object. "Virginia Department of Transportation" or "Burke Centre Conservancy" or "Martins Landing"


Rationale: There are many pipestems in Burke Centre, and it is useful to have them labeled separately since they are a different type of street, being essentially a shared driveway.

How to map: Pipestems should be created as ways tagged with the following:


Rationale: There are many pipestems in Burke Centre, and it is useful to have them labeled separately since they are a different type of street, being essentially a shared driveway.

How to map: Pipestems should be created as ways tagged with the following:

Tag Description Example
highway=service Designates street as a service road.
service=driveway Designates service road as a driveway. This implies access=private.
driveway=pipestem Defines driveway as a pipestem. (Note: not an accepted tag)
operator=* Entity responsible for the object. Most pipestems are operated by the houses on the pipestem, but if this is not the case then put the name of the operator here.


Most paths in Burke Centre are not mapped yet in OSM, so this is where most work is to be done, and the most value to be gained.


Rationale: Sidewalks are critical for navigation by foot, wheelchair, and other modes. They are typically adjacent to streets and provide an alternate, safer route travel, especially by foot.

How to map: One method of mapping involves tagging the adjacent roadway to indicate there is a sidewalk. However mapping them separately as their own ways gives a finer level of detail that is useful for navigation purposes, especially to the visually impaired. Additionally many sidewalks don't exactly run parallel to the road.

Tag Description Example
highway=footway Designates way as a sidewalk, which is a type of footway.
surface=* Specify the surface material. (optional) "concrete" OR "asphalt"
operator=* Entity responsible for the object. "Burke Centre Conservancy" OR "Martins Landing Cluster"
width=* Specify the width in meters. 1.5


Rationale: Paths are typically asphalt in Burke Centre, do not run parallel to a road, and enable transportation by foot, bicycle, wheelchair, and more.

How to map: Paths are mapped as ways.

Tag Description Example
highway=path Designates way as a path.
surface=* Specify the surface material. (optional) "asphalt", "concrete", "gravel"
operator=* Entity responsible for the object. "Burke Centre Conservancy"
width=* Specify the width in meters. 1.5


Rationale: Crossings are important for two reasons. First, it joins a path to another highway so routing engines can route appropriate modes of transportation between the two highways. Secondly, it serves as a warning to users of the path to be careful and watch out for vehicular traffic.

How to map: Crossings are ways that should be created with 5 points, two nodes in common with the sidewalk or path, one node in common with the road, and one node on each of the curbs.

Entire way
Tag Description Example
highway=* Designates highway as a footway or path. Be consistent with the ways which connect to either end. "footway", "path"
Node at intersection
Tag Description Example
highway=crossing Designates node as a crossing.
crossing=* Specifies the type of crossing. "unmarked", "uncontrolled" (but marked), "traffic_signals"
Nodes on curb (if applicable)
Tag Description Example
sloped_curb=* Curb is sloped, enabling wheeled access. This is only a proposed tag, we should investigate this. "yes", "no"
tactile_paving=* For those curbs with tactile paving, a guide to the visually impaired. "yes", "no"



How to map: Bridges should be their own separate ways.

Tag Description Example
highway=* Tag this to be consistent with the connecting ways. "path", "footway"
bridge=* Indicates highway is also a bridge. "yes"
handrail=* A handrail is present. "yes", "no"
width=* The width of the bridge in meters. 2.0
length=* The length of the bridge in meters. 3.0
operator=* The entity responsible for the bridge. "Burke Centre Conservancy"



Stairs should have their own separate way tagged as:


Tot Lots

Create a way around the entire tot lot and tag it with:

  • name=e.g. 'Burke Centre Tot Lot L4'

If possible, add nodes for each piece of playground equipment and tag with one of the following, or if more than one separate with semi-colons:

Advanced: Create a site relation linking the equipment to the playground

Tennis courts

Way around each separate court tagged with:

Basketball courts

Way around each separate court tagged with:

Swimming pool

Way around each separate pool tagged with:

Waste basket Per suggestion at OSC meeting, tag whether it is real or synthetic wood (so we know if it will need replacement).

Node tagged with:


Node tagged with:


Fire hydrant

Node tagged with:

Storm Drain

Node tagged with:

  • operator=unsure, Fairfax County, or cluster?