[HOT] Highway=residential in Africa

Alex Bogedain alex.bogedain at gmail.com
Tue Jun 14 21:51:30 UTC 2016

Hello All,

I am one of Chad Blevins' interns, and have been one of the more vocal ones
about being in disagreement with the Wiki and would like to do my part to
rationalize out why I am thinking this way.

In terms of the Unclassified/Tracks/Paths debate, in these rural areas
especially, I believe tracks should almost always win out.  I say this
because if these indeterminable lines pass by and connect houses/huts or
fields, then the road type is clearly not unclassified, as it has a
classification of connecting residential or agricultural areas.  Further,
it is indistinguishable for us at a distance to determine between tracks
and paths because one day a family could get a motorbike and start
traveling what could have been considered a path with a motorized vehicle,
or anyone for that matter could drive down the path/track on a motorbike to
access the houses or fields.  From my understanding, out in rural areas,
especially Africa, there are no controls on the modes of transportation as
transportation is limited to what any person is able to acquire within
their means.  Going forward into the future this means that the modes will
be changing as more families get motorbikes or 4 x 4 vehicles, thus,
classifying a road as a track covers all the bases for now and moving
forward.  The local population will be the ones to make the distinction and
things will change as time progresses.

To wrap up my thoughts on this, when viewing OSM (not logged in for
editing) residential and unclassified roads appear the same, but tracks
appear differently as how unmaintained roads would appear on nearly any map
around the world.  In terms of the PMI and other humanitarian initiatives,
it would be disingenuous to classify these narrow roads as unclassified as
the users of the map should be ready for a track, or possibly something
untraversable for their vehicles.  If we are to map in terms of an areas
actual use of roads, to my understanding unclassified would not cover these
types of roads and would not describe them accurately at all for actual

Please let me know what you guys think!

Thank You,
Alex Bogedain

On Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 11:46 AM, Chad Blevins <cblevins at usaid.gov> wrote:

> Hi John,
> You're absolutely correct.  When Courtney and I created the Mozambique
> Tracing Guide the original tasks were urban focused, and the scope has
> changed to rural areas.  Currently a group of interns are mapping those
> districts and I've had several inquiries about road classifications.  The
> guidance I’ve given is to tag all rural roads as unclassified unless they
> are clearly labeled/numbered as a “major” road, or very small pathways.
> The Africa roads wiki is great and was referenced when creating the
> Mozambique guide.  Many road examples in this part of the world are
> debatable as "unclassified", "tracks", or "paths".  It’s almost impossible
> to know the use and in some cases classifications may change based on time
> of year.  A subset of interns copied here (Forrest, Julia, and Alex) have
> agreed to review the Mozambique guidance and suggest edits for the rural
> landscape.  This could be a good opportunity for them to review and comment
> on the Highway Tag Africa wiki as well.
> More to come.
> Thanks,
> Chad
> On Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 8:01 AM, john whelan <jwhelan0112 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> OSM has its roots in the UK and Germany, in the UK highways are
>> classified A, B, I think even C and other very minor roads were labelled
>> unclassified by Ordnance Survey historically so that is where the term
>> comes from.  The UK Ordnance Survey was historically important in creating
>> everyday maps.
>> By using a standardised set of tags for highways it makes the rendering
>> systems life easier.  OSMand for example is used everywhere in the world
>> and if it had to know about a different set of tags for each country the
>> software would be much more complicated.  If you’re mapping in OSM of
>> course there is nothing to stop you tagging highways in any manner you
>> like.  The only problem is that the features will not be rendered by the
>> normal systems.
>> If you’re mapping in a HOT project then you’re expected to follow the HOT
>> guidelines for tagging.  ie building=yes etc.
>> The problem here is the instructions for a group of projects only contain
>> a subset of the highway types used for mapping in Africa as defined by the
>> African Highway Wiki and the examples shown are all urban areas so the
>> instructions although correct are incomplete as the project covers both
>> urban and rural areas.
>> Cheerio John ​
>> _______________________________________________
>> HOT mailing list
>> HOT at openstreetmap.org
>> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/hot
> --
> *Chad Blevins*
> GeoCenter
> U.S. Global Development Lab
> 202-712-0464
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