[Talk-us] GNIS POI populations

Minh Nguyen minh at nguyen.cincinnati.oh.us
Wed Jan 14 10:29:09 UTC 2015

On 2015-01-14 01:29, Paul Norman wrote:
> On 1/13/2015 5:34 AM, Minh Nguyen wrote:
>> It looks like most of the place=city/town/village/hamlet POIs from
>> GNIS are tagged with 2000 Census populations in the population tag.
>> These population tags allow renderers to label places with font sizes
>> corresponding to population, which is a pretty common use case.
> I had done a PR which would have added population sorting for place
> names, but as a style maintainer I'm interested in what styles use
> population for sizes.

Here are a couple that use it:

as seen at: http://maps.stamen.com/terrain/

I do see quite a few instances of population-based sorting on GitHub:


But the difference between 2006 and 2010 populations is unlikely to be 
large enough to matter much for this use case.

Still, weighting city labels by population is a common enough practice 
dating back to the days of paper maps. Someone trying to emulate it with 
OSM data would find the `population` tag much more convenient than 
conflating with an external source, since precision would be less 
important than accuracy.

>> I think we should consider a mechanical edit to update these tags to
>> the 2010 Census figures en masse. I've been updating individual places
>> as I edit them for other reasons, but this tag is most useful when its
>> vintage is consistent across the board.
> Although I somewhat like the idea of updating the population tags, I
> think we should give higher priority to fixing their tagging. When I did
> some cleanup of Washington place=city POIs I found that I ended up
> retagging most, deleting many, and only a few were place=city.

In Ohio and surrounding states, I've seen lots of incorrect `place=city` 
on boundary relations, but all the `place=city` POIs were correct. I 
think the `place` tags on those relations were set to whatever the TIGER 
classification happened to be. On the other hand, there are plenty of 
`place=hamlet`s on POIs that should either be deleted or turned into 
named landuse areas (mostly trailer parks).

minh at nguyen.cincinnati.oh.us

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