[Talk-us] Differences with USA admin_level tagging

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Tue Jul 11 19:54:47 UTC 2017

On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 2:46 PM, Kerry Irons <irons54vortex at gmail.com> wrote:
> If all of you want to have some fun with jurisdictional boundaries, take a look at College Corner, OH/IN.  It is a village purposefully straddling the OH/IN state lines with the main street being the state line.  It has two zip codes, is in three counties (two in OH, one in IN) and school district issues to match.  It puts paid to a lot of ideas we all have about jurisdictional hierarchies and boundaries.  Delmar in Delaware/Maryland has similar, though not quite as complicated issues.  I'm sure there are other examples

So there you have a city (admin level = 8) that crosses county (admin
level = 6) and state (admin level = 4) boundaries.

That's odd, but in my opinion is mostly all right, since these things do happen.

New York has:

1 Native American reservation (admin level controversial) that, its
citizens insist, lies on both sides of the Canadian border. In
practice, its citizens do not need to clear passport control to pass
the international border within the reservation; non-citizens of the
Haudenosaunee nation do.
1 city that is coterminous with five counties (we created a special
admin level 5 for New York City, which is sui generis)
1 city that has annexed land in an adjacent county
Several counties and towns with indefinite boundaries
1 hamlet that the state won from Massachusetts in a prizefight.
(Petitioned 1848, ceded 1853, confirmed by the Congress 1855 and
annexed to the Town of Ancram 1857)
About 15% of the villages (admin level ?  - perhaps SHOULD be 10, but
in any case should be below Town/City) cross town lines (in which case
the residents owe taxes to the village and to whatever town they
happen to live in).

Administrative levels do not form a hierarchy. That's simply a fact
that we have to deal with. These anomalies are quite common in the US.
I sometimes get the impression that mappers in other countries shake
their heads and say, "the data model is fine. Fix your country!"
Nevertheless, the boundaries are where they are, and we have to do a
"least worst" approximation to represent them.

Oddly enough, what I proposed for New York does not create any cases
of overlap at the same admin level:

4: New York does not overlap the territory of any other State (except
for a largely dormant boundary dispute involving a few islands in New
York Harbor).
5: Special case: New York City comprises five boroughs (which are
counties whose executive and legislative authority has been largely
ceded to the city but maintain an independent judiciary). No other
entity at level 5.
6: All counties are disjoint. Every point in New York is in exactly one county.
7: All towns/cities/Native American reservations are distinct. Every
point in New York is in exactly one of these. Their boundaries usually
follow county lines, but the cities of New York and Geneva are exceptions.
8: All villages/hamlets/community districts are disjoint. Every point
in New York is in at most one of these; however, many people do not
live in a village, hamlet or community district. (For instance, I live
in the Town of Niskayuna, which has no signed hamlets or incorporated
villages.) The boundaries here are quite arbitrary, and about 15% of
villages cross town lines.

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