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scoutsigns manual

ScoutSigns User Manual


ScoutSigns is a JOSM plugin to help you quickly map speed limits and other information from actual road signs automatically captured by Scout and Mapillary users.

The sign information is collected by people like you! The latest version of Scout has a ScoutSigns mobile component built right into the app. (Right now, the ScoutSigns component is only available for iOS for iPhone 5 or better.) If you mount the phone on the windshield while driving with Scout (and you opt in) you will automagically contribute to this fast growing sign database that is free for the OSM community to use. Could not be easier!

NEW On top of that, ScoutSigns will also pull in the highest quality signs from Mapillary! As a mapper, it is likely that you already know the fantastic Mapillary project - an open source Street View is the best way to describe it. Recently, Mapillary started automatically detecting all kinds of signs, and exposing this information through their API. ScoutSigns pulls in a selection of these signs and displays them right there with the Scout signs:


Mapillary speed limit signs (in blue) displayed together with Scout signs (in red) near Chiusaforte, Italy


You can install the ScoutSigns plugin the same way you install any other JOSM plugin: open the JOSM preferences window, select the Plugins tab, and locate ScoutSigns in the list of plugins.


Select the plugin and click 'Update Plugins' at the bottom. JOSM will download ScoutSigns and install it. When it is done, you should see a confirmation prompting you to restart JOSM.

ScoutSigns will be available after a quick JOSM restart.

Using ScoutSigns


With ScoutSigns installed, you will notice a few changes after you restart JOSM: an additional data layer, the main ScoutSigns panel, and a button in the button ribbon.

Data Layer

You will see a 'ScoutSigns' layer in the Layers panel. This layer will display the sign icons. Like any JOSM layer, the ScoutSigns layer needs to be the active layer (indicated by the green checkmark icon) if you want to interact with it - for example, if you want to select a sign icon to get more information on it.


Main Panel

You will see the ScoutSigns panel in the panel dock on the right side of the JOSM window. This panel gives you access to all available information of the selected sign, filtering options, and actions you can perform on a sign.

The main panel has four tabs at the top, and five action buttons at the bottom.


The tabs give access to the various types of information available for a sign:

  • Details Sign ID, position, height, type, status, confidence level and creation date.
  • Car Location Position, type, heading, direction, and accuracy.
  • Trip Trip ID, mode, profile, application version, and device type.
  • History status changes, comments.

Most of this information is not directly useful for mapping, but gives you a detailed look at the sign's recorded metadata.

The action buttons allow you to perform common actions on the sign:

  • Filter allows you to filter by source (Scout and Mapillary), date range, status, sign type (see below), confidence level, OSM username, device make and model, and application version. By default, a confidence filter of 90 is applied to the view to only show the signs that are most confidently recognized.

Some of the filter options, and some of the sign types, are only applicable to either Scout or Mapillary. The options will change depending on which source(s) you have selected.

filter window

  • Image Shows the captured image in a new window.

captured image

  • Track Shows a part of the vehicle's trace before and after capturing the image. Note that this information was added more recently and will not be available for older signs.

  • Comment Opens a new comment window. The history of comments on a sign is available under the History tab.

comment window

  • Change Status Each sign can have any of four statuses: Open, Solved, Invalid, and Duplicate. You can set the status of a sign with this button.


The Track / Comment / Status actions are only available for Scout signs. These buttons will be inactive when a Mapillary sign is selected.


  • Finally, you will see a ScoutSigns button in the left row, which shows / hides the ScoutSigns panel.


Mapping A Sign

Let's walk through the typical process of mapping a sign. Let's say I am interested in the beautiful island of Tenerife. I zoom and pan to there, and sure enough there are signs available to map!


Screenshot from JOSM showing Bing imagery

Notice how the signs are clustered into groups when you are zoomed out, so the map view does not get too cluttered. When you zoom in, you will start to see individual signs. Mapillary signs will only become visible when you are zoomed in far enough, because Mapillary does not support clustering. You will get a notification warning you about this the first time.

So, zooming in to Costa Adeje, I find some interesting signs probably worth mapping:


Screenshot from JOSM showing Bing imagery

When I load the OSM data, JOSM's Maxspeed style shows me right away that the appropriate segments do not yet have maxspeed information:

no maxspeed yet

Screenshot from JOSM showing Bing imagery and OSM data

Next I activate the ScoutSigns layer and click the first sign to pull up its image:


Update In the latest version, the plugin will also show the surrounding part of the user's GPS trace so you can see the driving direction:


Screenshot from JOSM showing Bing imagery and OSM data

I note that the speed limit is for the exit (indicated by the arrow beneath the sign). It looks like the sign down the road is also for the exit, further reducing the speed limit to 40 kph approaching the sharp bend:


Screenshot from JOSM showing Bing imagery and OSM data

Next I activate the data layer, split the way in two at the 40 kph sign, and add the maxspeed tags:

maxspeed 60 mapped

maxspeed 40 mapped

All that's left now is upload. When uploading, please also add 'scoutsigns' to the data source. You can add multiple sources like bing;scoutsigns separated by a semicolon if you used more than one source.


And move on to the next sign! Happy mapping!


When I zoom in, sign locations seem to disappear. What happened?

As you zoom in and out, you will notice that sign locations are clustered into groups at lower zoom levels. These clusters are pre-computed on the server and do not take into account any filters you have set in the ScoutSigns plugin.

Can I add signs myself?

Sure you can! If you drive around with Scout, you have your phone mounted on your windshield, and you have opted in to collect sign information, you are automagically contributing to this ever growing sign database that is free to use by the entire OpenStreetMap community. Of course, you can also contribute to Mapillary using their app - if your images have signs on them that Mapillary can detect, they will appear on ScoutSigns as well.

The sign is wrong!

Detecting what is on a sign captured from a distance in varying weather and light conditions is not trivial. We get it right most of the time, but always check the actual image to confirm.

If you encounter a sign that was interpreted wrong by the ScoutSigns technology, you can also change its status to 'invalidated'.


For Mapillary signs that are wrong, it is best to report this to Mapillary directly.

Can you show the entire image?

No, for various reasons. It would take up a lot of space and require significant mobile storage and bandwidth to transmit the full images. Also we would have to consider privacy concerns. For these reasons, we currently don't expose the entire image taken. Mapillary images appear in their full (color) glory though!

The way already has maxspeed, why do you still show the sign?

ScoutSigns does not look at the OSM data to decide which signs to show. All captured signs that pass the filters you set are shown. The rationale behind this is that the data in OSM may be outdated, and recently captured signs may allow you to update OSM based on this newer information. To quickly determine if a way already has maxspeed set, consider using the Maxspeed style.

maxspeed style The Maxspeed style in JOSM

Sign Types

The following sign types are currently supported by ScoutSigns for Scout:

  • SL - fixed speed limit
  • VSL - variable speed limit
  • OP/OL - overtaking (passing) restrictions
  • VOP/VOL - variable overtaking (passing) restrictions
  • EA/EOL/EOP/ESL - end of restrictions
  • VEA/VEOL/VEOP/VESL - end of variable restrictions

For Mapillary signs, see their web site.


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tyrasd commented Oct 5, 2015

(couldn't find an issue tracker for the JOSM plugin, so I'm posting this here)
I think that the driving direction arrows point in the wrong (opposite) direction. At least a couple of speed limits around here wouldn't make sense otherwise (edit: for example scout signs with id 209388, 221440).

Edit: ah, now I found the issue tracker. I've opened a ticket there.

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