[Tagging] RFC 2 - addr:interval

Jmapb jmapb at gmx.com
Tue Jan 5 17:11:38 UTC 2021

On 1/3/2021 2:03 PM, Kevin Kenny wrote:
> The only significant use of hyphenated housenumbers that I'm aware of
> is in the Borough of Queens, New York City, where almost all addresses
> are XXX-YY, where XXX is the number of the cross street and YY is the
> housenumber on the block.  In that specific case, there's already been
> a comprehensive import of building footprints, with their addresses,
> so it's pretty much a non-problem there - there's no need for address
> interpolation. For that reason, I don't think there's a real need for
> interpolation between already-hyphenated housenumbers. Nevertheless,
> we need to avoid misinterpreting each of the tens of thousands of
> hyphenated housenumbers in that borough as ranges.  As long as there's
> a separate indication that the number is an interval, and it doesn't
> default to being an interval just because there's a hyphen, then I
> have no objection.

Another wrinkle in the case of Queens (and possibly anywhere else that
uses the hyphen as a column separator) is that people sometimes use the
unhyphenated version of the address interchangeably. The addresses that
were imported with the building footprints use the hyphenated form, but
many locals write the address without it.

https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/5559802016 addr:housenumber=57-44,
website says 57-44
https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/5557465669 addr:housenumber=58-10,
website says 5810

And the reverse can be true as well, eg
https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/6389090010 gives its housenumber as
16-23 even though the official imported building address is 1623.

I've seen this inconsistency with physical housenumber signs as well,
and on mail.

So an effective geocoder for Queens needs to know to search for 58-10
when 5810 is requested, and vice versa. And in spoken language the
hyphen is often silent, so this has speech recognition implications as

A tag like addr:range/interval=no (mechanically added to tens of
thousands of Queens addresses!) would allow a geocoder to index these
housenumbers in both forms, or to index just the digit form and then
strip hyphens from a search.

Alternatives offhand would be adding a digit-only duplicate address node
inside each Queens building way, or inventing a tag like
addr:alt_housenumber=, or a location-based hack (ie when looking for a
3+ digit housenumber in Queens, also search with a hyphen inserted
before the final two digits) incorporated into every geocoding library.
None of those ideas thrill me.

My personal feeling is that the "real" address is just the digits, and
that the hyphen is a typographic convention, like using "," (or "." in
Europe) as a thousands separator. Akin to how we can give pronunciation
hints to a text-to-speech engine using *:ipa=, we could invent a tag to
give typographical hints on how addresses should be formatted for
display. But that won't stop people from manually mapping using the
hyphen (because that's what listed on most physical address signs) so
it's probably not a viable solution.


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