OpenStreetMap

Townlands.ie supports historic names

Posted by rorym on 17 December 2016 in English (English)

Townlands.ie now displays the historic name of areas! Townlands.ie is a website which shows the Irish traditional boundaries in OpenStreetMap, like townlands, civil parishes, baronies and counties. It's very useful for Irish genealogical research, and mainting Ireland's heritage into the digital era.

An example of this is County Offaly, which was initially created as a county in 1556 as "King's County", and was known as that until Irish independence in 1922, when it was changed to County Offaly. Neighbouring Co. Laois was known as "Queen's County".

We use the date namespace suffix to support this. The current OSM relation for Co. Offaly shows how to add this data: name:1556--1922=King's County, name:1922--=County Offaly

Townlands.ie currently supports the following 3 forms. Other options may be added later.

  • name:--YEAR: Name before YEAR
  • name:YEAR--: Name from YEAR to the present
  • name:YEAR1--YEAR2: Name between the years YEAR1 and YEAR2

There is already support for adding the name Griffith's Valuation (with name:griffithsvaluation tag), and the 1901 and 1911 census names (name:census1901 and name:census1911). However that is often used for transcription errors.

Please add more historic names to OSM in Ireland!

Comment from BushmanK on 18 December 2016 at 01:31

@RobJN, it is not a proposal, it's an illustration of how similar problem could be solved without disrespecting data usability.

But there still is a question: should any historical data be stored in the OSM database, keeping in mind the core principle of not mapping anything non-current.

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Comment from d1g on 30 January 2017 at 13:10

Impressive, but now I prefer Wikidata for this task, e.g. "Ленинград": https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q656#P1448 and https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q656#P17

Code in python would be slightly longer than 30L, but I appreciate how data is layouted in WD so that you don't need to unparse anything.

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Comment from rorym on 31 January 2017 at 09:14

Impressive, but now I prefer Wikidata for this task, e.g. "Ленинград": https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q656#P1448 and https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q656#P17

Cool. I don't really know anything about wikidata or how to use it though, so I kept it all in OpenStreetMap

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Comment from d1g on 31 January 2017 at 09:32

Simplest way is to fetch results using

Database downloads and toolkits can be found here:

so I kept it all in OpenStreetMap

It is impossible to have qualifiers separate from properties in OSM: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Special:MyLanguage/Help:Qualifiers without parsing; furthermore, almost everything is multilingual.

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Comment from rorym on 31 January 2017 at 09:42

That all look really complicated, and looks like I'd have to learn how Wikidata works. It's something I'd like to learn, but I don't have the time right now. I'd also have to query a US server, which has obviously bad privacy implications.

It's not impossible to have it in OSM, because I've already put it in OSM. name:1556--1922=King's County is pretty readable. Sure it might not be as full featured as other systems, but it works, it's readable, it's easy to enter, and it's deployed now. "Perfect is the enemy of done" and all that. 😄

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Comment from d1g on 31 January 2017 at 10:16

Thing that I can access data using SPARQL/CSV query without a line of code other than SPARQL. Not only it is perfect, it takes 4 minutes to do so and data will be up-to-date.

If you have interest, materials can be found here: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:SPARQL_query_service/Wikidata_Query_Help

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Comment from rorym on 31 January 2017 at 10:27

Thing that I can access data using SPARQL/CSV query without a line of code other than SPARQL. Not only it is perfect, it takes 4 minutes to do so and data will be up-to-date.

I have 65,000 objects. Can I make that many queries to Wikidata? At 4 minutes a pop, it'll take 6 months to populate my database. I'm currently updating townlands.ie every day, and want to keep that.

(that query link takes less than 4 minutes for me, probably caching)

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Comment from rorym on 31 January 2017 at 10:42

I'm sure Wikidata is great. And it's something I'd like to know more about. But I don't have the time now. And what I have works now, so I don't want to go writing everything to rely on an external service which has a more full featured and complicated data model, when it's not going to provide any benefit.

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Comment from d1g on 31 January 2017 at 11:11

Can I make that many queries to Wikidata?

When you enter data for 60K+ items you can query "all cities in country with property P1448". It should work, you can limit results if needed.

But I don't have the time now

when it's not going to provide any benefit

It won't harm you, you don't need to change anything yet. It can be that you will never switch to Wikidata API or WDQS, but you can contribute. You can donate data and wait when somebody will pick it up:

https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Data_donation#Why_add_data_to_Wikidata

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Comment from rorym on 31 January 2017 at 12:26

You can donate data and wait when somebody will pick it up:

Wikidata is CC0 "Public domain" licenced. This data is OSM derived, so you can't import it into Wikidata. I also won't donate my data to a non-share-alike, corporate friendly licence like CC0.

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