[Talk-GB] Why using place=city for legal status is a bad idea

Tom Chance tom at acrewoods.net
Sun Dec 27 16:39:52 GMT 2009

I remember going round the houses on this years ago. Look across a range of
maps and you will see most cartographers have their own mix of criteria to
determine how place names are shown.

So long as we put in enough data (official status, population,
administrative importance, etc.) then renderers can, in the future, attempt
an automagic approximation of the kind that Collins and others go for. If we
treat city/town/etc. as an official designation, then Wells should remain
tagged as a city.

It's interesting looking at major cities like London, where local mappers
have used hamlet/village/town/place to try and (by the looks of it) estimate
their importance.


2009/12/27 <wynndale at lavabit.com>

> A sentence was recently added to the wiki
> [http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:place] stating that the tag
> place=city should be used for legally defined cities in countries where
> such a status exists. This is superficially attractive but it gives rise
> to problems. The key issue is that place names, like roads, naturally form
> a hierarchy, and that the tag place=city is similar to the tag
> highway=trunk.
> For instance, the category in the United Kingdom includes Wells, which has
> a population of 10,000 and which the Collins New World Atlas leaves out of
> its 1:3,000,000 map of the British Isles. This is similar to the road
> category of Bundesstrasse (nationally maintained road) in Germany, which
> includes some quite small roads while omitting ones that are much more
> important. If (say) highway=trunk was used for such roads a map generated
> only from OSM data without an outside cheat sheet gives a warped idea of
> roads in Germany; OSM solves this problem by not using a distinct level
> for these roads.
> Using tagged population figures as a substitute to guide renderers has
> been suggested but it brings its own problems because people will expect
> them to be more broadly useful and figures may either be out of date or it
> may be unclear what area is being counted.
> --
> Andrew
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http://tom.acrewoods.net   http://twitter.com/tom_chance
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