Targeted Editing – Where the streets have no names...

Should all streets have names? Actually, no…

Welcome to our Targeted Editing series – today you could search the Internet for a baby possum, or make OpenStreetMap data awesome! (Both take about the same amount of time.)

Streets are one of the first things added in OpenStreetMap for any given area. There are always a number of segments that do not have names. In some cases, this is the reality – these may be little alleyways, paths, junctions, private roads, or even residential roads. Sometimes there are roads added that do have names, but the volunteer adding the data is digitizing the road from aerial imagery. More volunteers with local knowledge are needed to add attributes to these roads, like names, turn restrictions, speed limits, pavement type, and any number of road characteristics that are important to the local population.

Read on for some basic uses for road names, and see if you can use your local knowlege to add some where they are needed, while leaving the truly nameless roads alone!

How can street names be used?

  1. Help with search results. If a street is made up of many segments and some of them have names, you can usually search and find the street. If all of the segments that make up the street have no name at all, you’re out of luck!

  2. Help with turn-by-turn directions. Routing is hard. There are a lot of features in the data that are necessary before you can generate great routes. There are also many features related to routing. One of them is spoken or listed turn-by-turn directions.

    Which would you prefer?

    a. "turn right in 500 feet at Elm Street"
    b. "turn right in 500 feet"
    c. "turn right in 500 feet at [pause of silence or blank space]"
  3. Help with map labeling. The more you zoom in, the more labels you might see, but not if the features don’t have names.

We are missing some street names here!

There are many different types of streets, but check out this pie chart for residential roads in Mexico City:

We have some work to do!

How you can help improve streets without names:

Here is a map styled by Peter Richardson & Nathaniel V. Kelso showing many types of roads that don’t have names. To add a name, hover over one of the bright blue highlighted roads to bring up an info bubble with links to editing tools that can be used to add the missing names!

(This map is interactive! Open full screen ➹ )

(If you find a road that appears named in our map, but is still highlighted, you may have found a duplicate feature. That’s the topic of another post…)

Not familiar with Mexico City? Search or pan over to your home town to contribute your local knowledge to the map. You will see your changes right away in OpenStreetMap. You will also be able to see them in all versions of the Mapzen Vector Tiles within an hour, including the map right here on this page!

Need instructions on how to edit with iD? Here are some links to outstanding tutorials from LearnOSM, the OpenStreetMap wiki, and the United States Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit:

Are you a mapping wiz and interested in a more advanced editor? Try out JOSM with excellent documentation from Mapbox.

Thanks, and please check back soon for the next in our Targeted Editing series!

All the posts in the Targeted Editing series: