[Tagging] Can OSM become a geospacial database?

Eugene Podshivalov yaugenka at gmail.com
Fri Dec 28 11:24:10 UTC 2018

Let me give you some more examples.

1. place=locality is defiend as "A named place that has no population".
In Belarus/Russia there are three categories of objectes which match this
- an abandoned settlement
- a named natural place
- a named spot within a settlement
The common name of the first two cases is "урочище" and we usually add this
common name to the place proper name when displaying it on a map.
As mentioned mentioned in my previous posts, in Russian language we have
clear distinction between common and proper names, e.g. "hotel" in "Hotel
Maria" is a common name and depending on the context we can skip it and say
just "Maria". The same thing applies to the localities. We put just the
proper name into the "name" filed and need to put the common name "урочище"
into some other field if it is applicable to that kind of locality.
Currently we are putting that common name into "name:prefix" field.

2. In Russian we usually do not display "river" next to the river proper
name, e.g. compare name:en="river Dniper" to name:ru="Dniper" but we do
display "stream" next to stream proper names in order to distinguish them
from rivers.
waterway=stream is defind as "A naturally-formed waterway that is too
narrow to be classed as a river. An active, able-bodied person should be
able to jump over it if trees along it aren't too thick." In other worlds
any natural narrow waterway should be tagged as "steam". But in
Belarus/Russial we have some very small waterways which are called rivers.
So we tag them as "waterway=stream" but need to put the common name "река"
(en: "river") into some other tag in order to be able to understand that
that is actually a river and not a steam.

3. I've also mentioned in my previous posts the case with settlements.
In OSM there are 5 categories of a settlement places
(city/town/village/hamlet/isolated_dwelling) but in Belarus we have 7 ones.
Our real settlement categoreis are widely used e.g. in addresses and differ
from the official classification which is put into the "official_status"
tag. So currently we tag our settlements as place=* according to OSM's
definition and again use the "name:prefix" tag for the local common names.

Do you think that "name:prefix" tag is a good place for a common name which
is unwated in the "name" tag but is required to distinguish local
categories which cannot be precisely matched to the available OSM tags?

Best regards,

пн, 10 дек. 2018 г. в 05:03, Michael Patrick <geodesy99 at gmail.com>:

> Can OSM become a geospatial database?
>>  It currently fits almost any definition of 'GeoSpatial' database. Even
> if you ignore any intrinsic properties you might select to define
> 'GeoSpatial' database, extrinsic properties would define it as such, for
> example the UN-HCR, the U.S. National Geospatial Agency, The U.S. National
> Park Service, and probably thousands of others use it to perform C.R.U.D.
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Create,_read,_update_and_delete#Database_applications>
> operations on a continuous basis.
> That being said, from a software development perspective, it perhaps more
> resembles a set of loosely federated database system
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federated_database_system#Heterogeneity>.
> So the technical approaches are not as straightforward as an ordinary
> database, one probably should treat it as a data lake
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_lake> or a nascent data warehouse
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_warehouse#History>  - if one were
> unkind, sometimes it can seem like a data swamp
> <https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3209911>. In practice, this means a
> chain of ETL <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extract,_transform,_load>
> operations, rather than a single straight forward database query. And what
> makes this even weirder is that, in some ways, OSM is a hybrid of a
> relational <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_database> and a graph
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graph_database#Labeled-Property_Graph>
> database.
>> Right now OSM is a collection of dots and lines with some generic tags for
>> rendering them on a map. They do compile into nice maps but does it really
>> work when it comes to searching for objects of real life categories? ...
>> Superficially, that seems the case, but only because of expectations.
> expanding the perspective, IMHO, it is actually fairly robust and
> sophisticated considering what it is required to do. It actually permits
> use cases which would be intolerable for mundane systems.
>> To wrap it up it is hard to impossible to get objects of some real live
>> category from OSM database in order for example to highlight them on a
>> map or to list them in search results.
>> I would agree that it is hard, but not impossible. Certainly in a single
> step for the entire data space. In the 'stream' example, one has to work
> across the basic data type elements
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Elements> of nodes, ways, and
> relations, then across keys <https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/keys>, tags
> <https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/tags>, and relation types
> <https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/relations>. And even within those,
> there are wildly different purposes, like base geometric meanings like
> multipolygon <https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/relations/multipolygon>
> alongside high level abstractions like surveillance
> <https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/relations/surveillance>. So, if one
> were building some sort of generic software utility, one has to inventory
> the relative prevalence of the structures above, and bound the problem
> accordingly along with leveraging aspects like the geometric bounding box.
> Once you get down in the weeds
> <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/in-the-weeds>,
> like with 'amenity', you are in the NLP
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_language_processing> realm, and
> would have to supplement from an external utility like WordNet
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WordNet> - for example using synsets
> <https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/get-synonymsantonyms-nltk-wordnet-python/>
> and semantic distance <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_similarity>.
> ... see  OpenStreetMap Semantic Network
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Semantic_Network> .
> There are two workarounds used right now. The first one is to bind some new
>> tags to local categories ... The second one is to put category name into "name" tag, e.g. "Liberty
>> avenue", "Blue lake", "South park". ...
>> I invision the following solution here.
>> * First of all, the "name" tag should containt proper name only.
>> I agree, but people are people, and for ordinary people, if you ask three
> people to name something, you'd get three different 'names' at different
> levels of abstraction
> <https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Prototype_theory#Basic_level_categories> (
> subordinate, basic, or superordinate). Point and ask three people "What's
> that" and you'll get "The Columbia River", "North Channel", or " Knappa,
> Knappa Slough", so even the proper names will vary.
>> * Secondly, introduce a new tag for the real life language specific
>> category name. I know that "name:prefix/postfix" key was originally
>> introduced for another purpose but it can be a candidate here as well. Note
>> that in some languages the place of category name relative to the proper
>> name matters.
>>  Because of the complexities noted previously, the weight of legacy
> information, and maintenance complexity ( occasional refactoring ), a more
> or less parallel scheme would be unrealistic inside of OSM. Possibly one
> of the OSM semantic projects
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Category:Semantics> might provide
> similar capability. Implementing as you describe would be the Mother of All
> Automated Edits.
>> * Thirdly, in order to make the life of renderers simple, introduce one
>> more tag for holding the name which can be displayed on maps as is without
>> any modifications, e.g. "display_name". This tag may contain whatever
>> content is considered locally appropriate specifically for rendering on
>> maps.
>> I'm not sure I understand this, but superficially it seems to break the
> convention of separation of data and symbolization (heavily dependent on
> the specifics at the endpoint).
> There are people in the community that are *far* more knowledgeable than
> me on these themes, I suggest you reach out to them.
> For me, a  mental model of monolithic OSM isn't useful. It isn't unique to
> OSM, even what appear to be simple concepts like Employee Name in an
> enterprise database become very complex when applied to different cultures
> - I one reconciled a record for a nurse who had 13+ different versions, all
> perfectly 'legal' in the corporate records.
> Michael Patrick
> _______________________________________________
> Tagging mailing list
> Tagging at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/tagging
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/tagging/attachments/20181228/7be17ca9/attachment.html>

More information about the Tagging mailing list