[Talk-us] US highway tagging (was: [OSM-talk] Response to A critique of OpenStreetMap)

Brad Neuhauser brad.neuhauser at gmail.com
Fri Oct 15 17:00:13 BST 2010

OK, a metaphorical gauntlet has been thrown down, and Richard makes great
points.  That said, is there any chance the US community can find some
agreement about highway tagging?  And once we do, we can broker the
Israel-Palestine peace talks. :)

But seriously, it seems like we need some sort of structured process for a
group to look at the options, find compromises, make a decision, and then
have a uniform scheme for US roads across the wiki (and hopefully the data
will follow...).  What has happened up to now with wiki proposals on
different pages and email discussions hasn't resolved the issue for whatever
reason.  Maybe the OSMF-US (or a working group, or some organizationally
smart person on this list) could come up with a process and timeline as a
way to focus the conversation and move to a resolution?

My $.02, Brad

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Richard Fairhurst <richard at systemed.net>
Date: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 3:48 PM
Subject: Re: [OSM-talk] Response to A critique of OpenStreetMap
To: Kate Chapman <kate at maploser.com>
Cc: talk at openstreetmap.org

Kate Chapman wrote:

> Point 1: I'm not denying that the data in the U.S. is messed up.  On
> the other hand I can't count the number of times people say things
> that I summarize to 'God, why are you Americans too stupid, lazy or
> import crazy to map your own country?"  It really makes people want to
> continue mapping with the project.

Understood absolutely.

But put that out of your mind. No matter how I or anyone else phrase it, no
matter whether it's accompanied by a helpful smile or a superior sneer, you
do genuinely need to sort this shit out anyway. You do need to make sure
that your data is as consistently attributed as Google's (or OSM's UK data),
because otherwise people, like Mr 41latitude, will compare the two to your

And you need to do that for yourselves. With the awareness of being part of
an international project, sure, but it needs to come from US mappers. I
mean, I personally dislike the overuse of relations to model absolutely
everything, but you should take no bloody notice of me whatsoever and use
route relations for your roads if you think it works well and will be
reasonably in keeping with the rest of OSM.

So if, say, you think you need eight levels of importance within your
highway network, yet OSM only has seven (motorway, trunk, primary,
secondary, tertiary, unclassified, residential), screw it. Invent another
one. Quaternary or minor or something. The Germans have done that
(motorroad=yes) and no-one has died as a result.

> Yes it appears when people compare OSM to Google/Bing/etc they seem to
> start in the U.S.

Funnily enough only US people do that. :) Personally I'm more used to UK
cyclists comparing OSM and Google. Google has no cycle paths or routes. The
cyclists love OSM!

I think, actually, you have an advantage in that the US community is quite
small: it's easier to get agreement. Whereas over here, where the community
is big and fractious, it takes forever to get anything done. You're still
young. Use the advantage while you can.


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