[Talk-GB] too many universities in Cambridge

David Earl david at frankieandshadow.com
Fri May 22 11:26:52 UTC 2015

If this discussion were happening at the start of the project four years
ago. It wasn't as if the scheme wasn't public then. But it's been
implemented now for several years, and to reorganise it is unhelpful and
costly, with little benefit other than a sense of it "being right". (And in
any group of 10 mappers, there seem to be 11 opinions as to what is right,
concensus is very hard to achieve).

On Fri, 22 May 2015 at 12:22 Richard Mann <richard.mann.westoxford at gmail.com>

> A quick scan of Oxford shows the colleges (and a few multi-building areas
> such as the Science Area) as amenity=university, with buildings within
> colleges and odd departments as building=university. So we have a lot of
> universities too.
> Other big difference is that we haven't generally added "(University of
> Oxford)" to the end of all the college names...
> I'd tend to go for amenity=university for a contiguous site with a single
> name, with the occasional split site (eg on two sides of a public road) as
> a multi-polygon. Then I'd add a *tag* to show that the site was part of a
> collection making up the University (probably operator, though that feels
> wrong, since the colleges are independent entities). It's *not* a candidate
> for a relation because there are no geographical relationships between the
> components.
> Richard
> On Fri, May 22, 2015 at 11:54 AM, David Earl <david at frankieandshadow.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi Dan,
>> Yes, Philip's right - I developed and continue to maintain the University
>> map at http://map.cam.ac.uk (as well as doing all of the original street
>> pattern mapping for Cambridge back in 2006). The University has put a
>> considerable investment and negotiated permission for college access into
>> the map and contributed tens of thousands of pounds of survey data into OSM
>> - it's not just "some of its maps", it's completely central to the
>> University map, not just a casual effort.
>> The "schema" for tags that make the University map work is at
>> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Cambridge/University_of_Cambridge
>> (I've just realised I haven't updated that page with a recent, unrelated
>> new bit, I must do so).
>> As it happens, I was also thinking about this the other day. The three
>> main things are that is (a) consistent and (b) doesn't change under our
>> feet and break the map, (c) it needs a way to distinguish these buildings
>> from others. It possibly wasn't the best decision to do it like this,
>> though I still don't think it is a terrible way to do it. Relations would
>> be awful: they are very hard to maintain accurately, and incidentally they
>> are hard to work with in consumers because they come at the end of the data
>> so you have to do multiple passes or keep lots of data in memory, and I
>> think you'd lose most of the distinctive renderings off the OSM map, though
>> since that's such an opaque process it's hard to know.
>> building=university would work, but only if done in a controlled way so
>> that we don't break the map while it's being done. But do you really want
>> to spend your days in front of a computer changing all the university tags
>> in Cambridge though?! I can think of more productive and helpful things to
>> do. I did consider building=university, but like all things OSM, there was
>> a camp that only wanted building=yes, and that is what the Map_features
>> page then decreed (it has more now, but university isn't among them). The
>> more critical tags from my point of view are the operator ones.
>> This raises some other points though...
>> 1. What about the sites and the colleges? These are also tagged
>> University, and there isn't an obvious alternative that won't mean the
>> ordinary OSM maps don't show them. Fundamentally, is a "part of a
>> university" a university? I think it's helpful to do it like that. Did you
>> know the University of Nottingham has a branch in China - would it really
>> be helpful to link these with relations spanning the world? I think there's
>> cases both ways.
>> 2. What is a University anyway? Almost no university is in one physical
>> area. Even campus universities like UEA have outlying premises (in UEA's
>> case in London too). Do you really not want the campus area to be tagged
>> university just because it isn't the whole thing? You said Anglia Ruskin
>> was one of the two universities in Cambridge - no it isn't, it's HALF a
>> university, the rest is in Chelmsford. I don't think it would do any harm
>> and would be helpful to group them with relations, if that were
>> maintainable sustainably, but not at the expense of losing the tags from
>> the outline itself. And the building thing only extends this further. Is
>> a University a geographical thing at all? It's an institution, which may
>> have some buildings but really it's a concept not a physical object -
>> ultimately everything on the map is just a part, not the whole.
>> 4. Constantly changing tags creates a moving target that is extremely
>> hard to maintain for data consumers, and is a major off-putting factor in
>> using OSM, especially if you can't manage the process because things just
>> change under your feet. For example, there is a thread on talk discussing
>> completely changing the amenities altogether, without regard for people who
>> want to use this stuff in the real world. My view is that tags are merely
>> tokens and too much is read into the words. They are part of the API and
>> the fact you can change them because you prefer some other structure
>> doesn't mean you should. The flexibility means we can introduce new things
>> easily, but constant change is hard to cope with. The costs are borne
>> elsewhere, and what really does it buy us?
>> So, I think it's OK the way it is. If it offends you unbearably,
>> building=university wouldn't be too hard to cope with, but please, please
>> don't just do it, let me change the University software first, otherwise
>> the map will be broken on next update (which are frequent) and they will be
>> very annoyed. As I said, this is effectively part of the API, even though
>> it may not feel like it, and constitutes a non-upward compatible change. If
>> you do want to do it, please do it all, not in bits, and bear in mind this
>> has a direct financial cost to me as a freelancer supporting the University
>> map, and that the University has been a big benefactor for OSM, even though
>> they get the rest of the map back in return, so you really don't want to
>> give them a slap in the face for doing so.
>> David
>> On Thu, 21 May 2015 at 23:13 Phillip Barnett <phillip.p.barnett at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> I'm a Cambridge mapper, but I'd advise doing nothing until you've spoken
>>> with David Earl who was contracted by Cambridge University to actually map
>>> the university - see this link
>>> http://soc2012.soc.org.uk/node/16.html
>>> Thanks
>>> > On 21 May 2015, at 22:39, Dan S <danstowell+osm at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> >
>>> > Hi all,
>>> >
>>> > I don't relish bringing this up since it's a bit of a tangle, but I
>>> > noticed Cambridge has a lot more universities than I thought!
>>> > Apparently 1219, judging from the number of amenity=university tagged
>>> > objects. In real life I'm aware of two: Cambridge Uni, Anglia Ruskin
>>> > Uni.
>>> >
>>> > I think someone mentioned Cambridge Uni was using OpenStreetMap for
>>> > some of its maps,* so I'd be nervous about proposing anything radical
>>> > right now. But is there anyone on this list who is a Cambridge mapper,
>>> > or connected to the university's use of mapping? It's possible that
>>> > some team decided to use the tag to mark every college building (etc),
>>> > when really amenity=university is supposed to mark a university, not a
>>> > piece of a university.
>>> >
>>> > To do it "properly" it might need some neat relations to group these
>>> > things. (Might be fun for someone who loves relations - various
>>> > multi-site and hierarchical connections among the buildings scattered
>>> > across town!) Alternatively there are tags in use such as
>>> > building=university which might be good drop-in replacements...
>>> >
>>> > Best
>>> > Dan
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > * They use OSM for their basemap: http://map.cam.ac.uk/ - I wonder if
>>> > they're getting their POI info from it too
>>> >
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