[Talk-GB] Admin Boundaries and Combined Authorities

Colin Smale colin.smale at xs4all.nl
Tue Jul 28 09:16:55 UTC 2020

Hi Sarah, 

Thanks for your message. I would like to challenge one point - your
assertion that the Regions at admin_level=5 are in "widespread popular
use". It is true that many people talk about geographical regions like
"the South-East" or "the North-West". But these are ill-defined
vernacular phrases and do not refer to the sharply-defined regions that
are only occasionally used in governmental areas. If you asked people
"is Essex in the South-East" I expect 99% would say "yes", and asking
people to locate the Isle of Wight in either South-East or South-West
would yield, at best, an inconclusive result. 

Hence my suggestion that admin level 5 for government regions is no
longer in active use, and is therefore available for adoption by the
Combined Authorities. 

I am sure I don't need to remind you of the disconnect in the UK between
a) administrative areas, b) postal addressing and c) people's perception
of "locations"...

Best regards, 


On 2020-07-28 09:48, Sarah Hoffmann wrote:

> Hi,
> I'm the one who caused this discussion by editing West Yorkshire. I was looking
> into admin boundaries for Nominatim (the search engine) who uses them to
> determine the place description or address of a place. As part of this I had
> noticed a hole in the admin level 6 coverage and 'fixed' it.
> I have to say that this discussion reflects a paradigm shift in the interpretation
> of boundary=administrative that I find concerning. boundary=administrative used
> to reflect the hierarchical structure of a country as viewed by popular use. That
> is quite practical because it makes it possible to determine reasonable subdivisions
> from the OSM data without having to know how exactly a country is governed.
> Since a few months I notice more and more that people start to interpret
> boundary=administrative in a literal sense and argue that all those where there is
> no direct governmental function have to go away or retagged with something else.
> This 'something else' is often locally chosen without any coordination with the
> international community or any documentation what so ever (try finding out about
> boundary=ceremonial in the wiki if you don't believe me). I fear that we
> end up with a fragmentation in tagging that makes it seriously difficult to use the
> data in a meaningful way.
> Coming back to the issue at hand: the regions on admin level 5 may not exactly have
> an administrative function but my impression is that they are in wide-spread
> popular use. I don't visit the UK often but even I am aware of them. That's a
> good reason to include them in the boundary=administrative hierarchy. Moving them
> to some other tagging schema makes them practically invisible.
> Mixing regions and CAs in admin_level=5 is not a good idea either because it
> breaks the global assumption that the admin_levels create a proper hierarchy.
> Same goes for admin_level=5.5. This would be really unexpected and likely just
> ignored by most consumers.
> Sarah
> On Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 06:41:02AM +0100, Steve Doerr wrote: 
>> Could they perhaps be 5.5 to distinguish them from regions?
>> Steve
>> From: Brian Prangle [mailto:bprangle at gmail.com]
>> I favour admin  level 5 too.
>> On Sun, 26 Jul 2020 at 23:52, Colin Smale <colin.smale at xs4all.nl <mailto:colin.smale at xs4all.nl> > wrote:
>> The LAs of which the CAs are composed are sometimes Metropolitan Boroughs with admin_level=8, and sometimes Unitary Authorities with admin_level=6. I am tending towards admin_level=5; this value is/was in use for the Regions, but they no longer have an admin function (if they ever had one) so I consider admin level 5 as "available" for use by Combined Authorities.
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