[Talk-GB] Are Northern Ireland, Wales & England 'states'?

Adam Snape adam.c.snape at gmail.com
Wed Aug 23 10:34:14 UTC 2017

Though abolished as administrative entities, the traditional counties
maintain a relevance as geographic terms so the Middlesex example is a good
example of how places mean different things to different people.

The question is how we should define places in OSM. As Colin stated,
administrative boundaries are not a great means of determining location in
the UK. Many large areas are unparished and parish boundaries are
problematic; they can cut through settlements or include places many miles
away. In many cases people don't think of borough or unitary councils as
determining their location (eg. no-one would say that they live in
Blackburn with Darwen). Simply drawing large polygons around settlements is
somewhat arbitrary and would ignore the fact that a place often includes
scattered buildings outside the core settlement. In all of these cases
is_in retains some usefulness.

Whilst not everybody agrees with their postal address, it is the most
common way to identify location, it is standardised, verifiable and covers
the whole country, so it is probably how places should be defined in OSM.
is_in will remain useful at least until OSM address and/or postcode
coverage is complete.

Kind regards,


On 23 August 2017 at 10:33, Paul Berry <pmberry2007 at gmail.com> wrote:

> The Middlesex example (as with the 1974 and 1995 redefinitions of the
> counties) used in postal addresses is an interesting touch point since, as
> you may know, Royal Mail haven't mandated the use of counties in addresses
> for a long time, thus neatly sidestepping this issue as far as their own
> operations are concerned.
> http://tinyurl.com/ydh8ovhy
> Regards,
> *Paul*
> On 22 August 2017 at 17:22, Lester Caine <lester at lsces.co.uk> wrote:
>> On 22/08/17 12:23, Colin Smale wrote:
>> > If you ask people where they live, they will probably talk about the
>> > county level and the settlement/town/city, but the informal boundaries
>> > of these settlements will likely not follow the administrative
>> > boundaries. In fact, it may not be possible to agree a polygon with a
>> > sharp boundary of what constitutes a settlement with a given name. Most
>> > place=* polygons in OSM just follow the boundary of the built-up area.
>> >
>> > So I see a possible role for is_in - to help out geocoding where
>> > geometrical methods lead to an undesirable (though accurate) result.
>> Middlesex ceased to exist in 1965 yet many people still use it in their
>> postal address ... there is certainly no boundary for it on OSM :) To
>> add to the fun, facebook's allowed list of places miss-identifies this
>> area of London in the same way as the other areas that became London
>> Boroughs back then and this is creating a mess in Facebook's use as a
>> business platform.
>> Starting with a list of the current official designations from the ONS
>> database has to be the correct currently accurate information, but while
>> there should be a boundary associated with each entry, a simple list of
>> elements does not need to be overloaded with all of the way information
>> providing that boundary. It is a secondary relation to the base 'name'.
>> http://geoportal.statistics.gov.uk/datasets/0e7bbf9926584a57
>> a2818c64f01d0bfe_0/data
>> provides a list of the official COUNTRIES in the United Kingdom but even
>> that is probably inaccurate in relation to is Northern Ireland part of
>> the United Kingdom? ( At some time will Scottish translations also be
>> added? )
>> The Open Geography Portal provides a list of data and the basis for
>> checking that within OSM, but it will be easier to complete a complete
>> mirror of is_in: hierarchy which can be updated as changes appear in the
>> ONS dataset and THEN associate boundaries as appropriate.
>> --
>> Lester Caine - G8HFL
>> -----------------------------
>> Contact - http://lsces.co.uk/wiki/?page=contact
>> L.S.Caine Electronic Services - http://lsces.co.uk
>> EnquirySolve - http://enquirysolve.com/
>> Model Engineers Digital Workshop - http://medw.co.uk
>> Rainbow Digital Media - http://rainbowdigitalmedia.co.uk
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