More on Land Use Tags

Posted by Adam Martin on 4 September 2013 in English (English)

Haven't had much cause to make another blog post in the last month and a half - mostly because I was putting into action the things that I blogged about before and got answers for. Give one thing to the OSM community (if nothing else), they will help a fellow mapper out with tagging suggestions and the like.

So I am back to the white board again for the same thing. Over the past 2.5 months that I have been adding to the project, I have inputted 400 edits to the database, mostly in the Paradise, Newfoundland area. I have relied heavily on the Wiki and the discussions to make sure I keep my tags as efficient and descriptive as possible. I am probably small potatoes with that number of edits, though I tend to average at least 100 changes / additions per edit. Still, I am adding that low level and relatively picky type of detail and any edit that is constructive is a good edit.

Anyway, I have three items that are in my view at the moment. I have been adding residential and commercial land use areas to the Town here. Among those are parks and playgrounds and the like as well as land that is unused and considered to be the property of the Town proper. In Newfoundland and the rest of Canada (I assume) space that is not sold to contractors or used in construction is considered municipal land. That land is often given over (unofficially) to the locals for their use. Looking at the land use tags (the major ones), I notice that there are several tags for land that is given for gardening or the like, but little for land that is just there and open to public access. Other lands like these have been designated by the Municipal government as "open space / conservation use zones". These include tracts of land with trees and such that are not slated for development.

The first item, then, is how to tag these areas. There is little in the land use tags that are considered the main tags for this with the except of the village_green tag. This is "supposed" to be used for space at the centre of the Town or City that is open and green. But given it's nature, I have been applying it to any space that the Town owns and permits open access to - separate from Parks and such.

My second item is related. The Town lands include mediums along the major roadway here. There is no specific tag that I see to flag the medium land as "medium" so I am considering the use of "village_green" for this as well.

My third item is a quick one. Government buildings have no specific tag. There is no civic use tag or government use tag for buildings. I am curious about what to use in cases of these types of buildings.

Comment from Andy Allan on 4 September 2013 at 14:01

As a quick note - you probably mean "median" rather than "medium" - see

Also, I'd advise caution on the use of the "village green" tag with regards to things that clearly aren't. The wikipedia definition gives some idea - but it's a long stretch to consider a highway median as somewhere to meet, graze livestock in olden days and (especially for the english) enjoy a refreshing pint while watching a casual game of cricket.

Comment from Adam Martin on 4 September 2013 at 14:13

Yeah, my auto-correct must have grabbed it. Thanks for the heads up - that is what I meant.

I can understand that it is a stretch, but it would be nice to have something that shows on the map to use on these places. It might not be vital, but it will look a whole lot more integrated.

Comment from mcld on 4 September 2013 at 18:47

I think building=public is common for civic/govt buildings.

Also I agree with Andy about village_green - I'd suggest just landuse=grass instead (and if you want to indicate that public access is ok, access=yes or access=permissive).

Comment from Adam Martin on 5 September 2013 at 11:07

I didn't know about the grass designation - I will switch off to using that instead of village_green. Seems to be more applicable.

Followup question - for areas of both grass and wood, would it make more sense to try to split the area into the grass and trees sections or to flag the whole area as grass and add the natural=wood tag to it. The trees are not for harvesting nor are they groomed or maintained.

Comment from mapsinE3 on 8 September 2013 at 20:01

Here in the UK, where I live the population is dense, I do not worry too much about land areas, or land area usage. In addition, there might be legal issues with assigning ownership of land to a particular township or municipality (where did you get this information from, do you trust it, is it up to date and are you allowed to use it?)

So I just map the things that are obvious, and uncontroversial - ways, roads, junctions, buildings, parks. This keeps me busy enough.

I think many people are now using OSM for routing (I certainly do, with my in-car GPS device and OSM data). So I spend some time at checking the routing for the areas I visit frequently and know well. Here in London, one-way and turn-restrictions are changing day-by-day, and it is really annoying when the GPS sends you on a stupid route because of incorrect OSM data.

One last, small, but important point: When you say "but it will look a whole lot more integrated" please remember that you are tagging for the map, not the rendering engine (of which there are now, many).

Thanks for your contributions and have fun.

Best wishes

Comment from Adam Martin on 8 September 2013 at 23:53

Here in Canada, land use areas are vital. With so much space available to us, we tend to waste large quantities of it out of hand. This makes tagging the use of the land, especially within a Town's limits important. Not all the land in a residential area is actually for residential purposes - some of it is retained by the municipality for a variety of reasons. The popular tags in OSM tend to be very Euro-centric, at least when compared to Newfoundland. For example, I have never seen an area designated for locals to grow their own plants being provided by the town. You do that on your own land - not public land. Here, you will get a large area of open grass and trees that is un-managed by the town. You are allowed to enter and use these areas, but not to remove the trees or erect permanent structures. These are called all sorts of things - each municipality has different phrases for these areas. Some seek to develop them for more structured use while others allow them to grow wild.

I am tagging for the map. I intend to, as much as possible, use the tags that are common rather than amking up a pile of my own that won't ever get rendered by any of the map engines out there.

For the municipality lands ... I am not sure how it is done in the UK, but here the Government lays out the parcel of land that a municipality owns via an act of Legislation. For the town I am working on, the official Canvec data was imported for the area before I got to it. I use that as the base and refer to the Legislation to ensure that the lines are accurate.

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