[HOT] paths, tracks and unclassified in West Africa

Thomas Gertin tgertin at gmail.com
Thu Jul 16 04:23:40 UTC 2015

I am adding to the discussion of highway tagging in West Africa. All of the projects that mapped highways in West Africa that I have seen or been a part of followed the guidance of the Highway Tag Africa wiki page (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Highway_Tag_Africa <http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Highway_Tag_Africa>).

This past Spring I worked with some colleagues to create this tracing guide (http://hotosm.github.io/tracing-guides/guide/liberia.html <http://hotosm.github.io/tracing-guides/guide/liberia.html>) for mapping River Cress and Grand Gedeh Counties in West Africa. The tracing guide was based on our interpretation of the Highway Tag Africa wiki page. This tracing guide is quite good, and mappers appreciated the pictures and GIFs that show examples.

When building the tracing guide I came to a few conclusions. When reading the Highway Tag Africa wiki page I felt it have been wrong for me to alter the instructions. It would have resulted in inconsistent tagging in the region. I trust that a good amount of research and discussion has taken place to get it to the point it is now.

- The guidance in the wiki could have been clearer. Although I notice that is has improved since even a few months ago, there are now some example pictures in there.

- It is difficult to teach someone how to classify highways. There are eight types and often it is not clear when deciding between primary, secondary, tertiary, and unclassified highways because the only difference between them is the subjective size of the urban areas that are connected by them.

- The unclassified road type was unintuitive the first time I read the Highway Tag Africa wiki page. To me unclassified means something that has no classification. Yet in the Highway Tag Africa wiki page it clearly has a classification. I think the term ‘unclassified’ means something else in other places though.

I think having pre-set tags available as a plugins to iD editor should be a HOT goal, if it isn’t already. I don’t think we need there to be a universal tagging set. People who set-up projects on the Tasking manager could define the tags that fit best for the project. Although I think it would be useful to further standardize some tags across many geographical areas; it is important to maintain the flexibility for the geographical areas that need unique tags.


Tom G
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