[Tagging] Non-geometrical ways in boundary relations

Tom Pfeifer t.pfeifer at computer.org
Thu Jan 26 11:46:35 UTC 2017

Boundary relations [1] can have members that are the boundary itself, 
thus the geometrical part of this boundary, as well as further details, 
in particular an admin_centre and a label, which are both extremely well 
accepted, and (disputed) a subarea.

The valid geometrical members are 'outer' (5M) and 'inner' (45T), and 
the deprecated <empty> (62T), enclave (0) and exclave (0) [2]. enclave 
and exclave are extinct since 2013, according to wiki discussion.

admin_centre is used on nodes (184T), ways (142) and relations (16).

It is defined in the wiki so far as a node for the "capital, county seat 
etc., usually a town, city or village (depending of the boundary level, 
see place=*)"

Now, for admin levels relating to counties and towns, the seat of the 
admin_centre is typically the town hall, which is often mapped as a 
building outline, thus a way. It carries further useful tags such as the 
name of the particular administration and its address.

There is no logical reason why this townhall should not be added to the 
boundary relation as a way. That was proposed on the wiki discussion 
page a few months ago.

However, mapping it this way triggers a problem in carto [3], which 
relates upstream to an issue in osm2pgsql [4]. Apparently any way member 
in a boundary relation is treated as part of the geometry (catch-all), 
instead of processing only those that are defined as such 
(white-listing). Catch-all rules are frowned upon in different 
situations as they are prone to errors.

Tu summarize, I propose to allow admin_centre as ways in boundary 
relations, and fix the catch-all software issue.

[1] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Relation:boundary
[2] http://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/relations/boundary#roles
[3] https://github.com/gravitystorm/openstreetmap-carto/issues/2559
[4] https://github.com/openstreetmap/osm2pgsql/issues/678


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