[PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city name)

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[PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city name)

Postby DwarfLord » Wed May 22, 2019 5:30 am

The "City names on segments" section of the USA Road names article and the Introduction of the USA Road names / city names article both state that the primary name field should be set to a given city name only "within the boundaries of the city polygon".

This guidance is problematic for four reasons:

  • It can be recursive. In my experience, the city polygon can (at least sometimes) be generated automatically based on the primary-name settings of segments. We can't derive the primary city name from the polygon if the polygon is derived from the primary city name.
  • It does not allow for situations where the city polygon may be incorrect.
  • It may exclude developed but unincorporated portions of a city that visiting drivers as well as the Post Office would consider part of that city.
  • Read literally, it prohibits use of the city field for populated places for which Waze, for whatever reason, does not have a city polygon.

I'd like to recommend the following changes in red. In "Road names":

To keep city names from sprawling over too wide an area in the Waze app, in WME and LiveMap, a city name should only be used as a primary name onfor segments details within the boundaries of the city polygon located in incorporated areas of the city, or in unincorporated but developed zones that visiting drivers would likely associate with the city. That means many addresses on the map are in these “no city” areas, particularly in rural regions.

In "Road names / city names":

To keep city names from sprawling over too wide an area in the Waze app, WME, and Live Map, editors follow standards of placing the city name on segment details only within the boundaries of the city polygon incorporated city and/or developed zones that visiting drivers would likely associate with the city (provided the city name is corroborated by US Postal Service addressing). That means many addresses on the map are in these “no city” areas, particularly in rural regions.


This guidance improvement may appear to encourage city smudging, but I don't think this is a serious concern, for two reasons: (1) there are plenty of unincorporated towns already shown on the Waze map with boundaries established by the census bureau that may already be somewhat arbitrary, and there is no reason for us to be chained strictly to whatever the bureau thinks; and (2) the language "developed zones that visiting drivers would likely associate with the city" is anti-smudging by definition.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby Kartografer » Wed May 22, 2019 2:30 pm

I agree that we should remove "within the boundaries of the city polygon" language, because yeah, it puts the cart before the horse for unlocked polygons or no polygons, and locked polygons are ten years old (imported with basemap in 2009) and could be out of date due to annexation or deannexation.

We were discussing on Discord the differences among states in defining what a city is, and specifically the usefulness of treating census-designated places as cities. Census-designated places represent closely settled, unincorporated communities that are locally recognized and identified by name. We basically came down to the fact that because each state makes its own laws regarding incorporation of cities, towns, villages, townships, boroughs or whatever else they want to call them, the editors there will have to make their own decision on whether or how to map CDPs, unincorporated areas that aren't CDPs, and even incorporated areas.

So while I would love a good national guidance statement about this, I really think we have to make it more local, just because every state is different in regard to this. So I'd propose:

Modified road names paragraph wrote:To keep city names from sprawling over too wide an area in the Waze app, in WME and LiveMap, a city name should only be used as a primary name onfor segments details within the boundaries of the city polygon located in areas determined by local leadership to be displayed as cities on the map, such as incorporated cities, villages, townships, boroughs, census-designated places, etc., depending on the state. That may means many addresses on the map are in these “no city” areas, particularly in rural regions.


Modified city names paragraph wrote:To keep city names from sprawling over too wide an area in the Waze app, WME, and Live Map, editors follow standards of placing the city name on segment details only within the boundaries of the city polygon area determined by local leadership to be displayed as a city on the map, such as an incorporated city, village, township, borough, census-designated place, etc., depending on the state. That may means many addresses on the map are in these “no city” areas, particularly in rural regions.


One more thing:
DwarfLord wrote:there are plenty of unincorporated towns already shown on the Waze map with boundaries established by the census bureau that may already be somewhat arbitrary, and there is no reason for us to be chained strictly to whatever the bureau thinks

I'm assuming that you refer to CDPs here (those seem to be the imported unincorporated areas). CDP boundaries are arbitrary like FC is arbitrary, FWIW. Someone in the government, who is paid to determine these things, applied detailed criteria and made a decision. If CDPs are useful in general in one's state, their boundaries are worth following, rather than what we might think a visiting driver might think is a city.
Last edited by Kartografer on Wed May 22, 2019 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby sketch » Wed May 22, 2019 2:59 pm

Kartografer wrote:One more thing:
DwarfLord wrote:there are plenty of unincorporated towns already shown on the Waze map with boundaries established by the census bureau that may already be somewhat arbitrary, and there is no reason for us to be chained strictly to whatever the bureau thinks

I'm assuming that you refer to CDPs here (those seem to be the imported unincorporated areas). CDP boundaries are arbitrary like FC is arbitrary, FWIW. Someone in the government, who is paid to determine these things, applied detailed criteria and made a decision. If CDPs are useful in general in one's state, their boundaries are worth following, rather than what we might think a visiting driver might think is a city.

Hear, hear.

CDP boundaries, like FC, are set by the government based on defined and definite criteria. While their boundaries might change every 10 years, FC maps often change more often than that. And despite initial skepticism, we can all agree now that FC is working.

A big part of the reason we implemented FC is that it takes the ambiguity out of the question entirely. Entire conversations and backs-and-forths about whether or not something should be Major or Minor no longer need to be had. The same should be true of city limits. Something is either in a city/CDP or it isn't.

The importance of CDPs vs. townships vs. whatever else vary from state to state and region to region—that's just a fact. There is no way to set a standard that applies to the entire country because different parts of the country have different laws, rules, and customs. But we should be able to agree on at least one thing: don't make it up. Set a standard and follow it.

I won't say exceptions can't ever be made, but that should be entirely a local decision.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Wed May 22, 2019 4:08 pm

I agree that, in a global sense, CDP boundaries are arbitrary in the same way FC is arbitrary. However, as strictly applies to us in Waze world, we must always be able to make exceptions because neither CDP boundaries nor FC were created by the government specifically to serve Waze's needs.

For example, we already fuss with FC in certain situations to ensure pruning continuity. Pruning continuity is more important to us than 100% adherence to an external standard. And (in California at least) government FC has occasional errors that we need the flexibility to deal with.

So likewise with CDP boundaries, I don't see what absolute adherence to them buys us, other than (like FC) being able to defend them should someone accuse us of being arbitrary. Which is valuable, for sure. But if we adjust CDP boundaries by a few segments here or there I don't think the risk of that is anywhere near what it is for routing/FC.

Anyway, that being said, I completely agree that guidance should not appear to encourage the entire editor corps to "make things up" because that can lead to other problems. I'm completely fine with Kartographer's suggestions and would propose implementing them verbatim after enough time has passed for any additional comment.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby sketch » Wed May 22, 2019 4:20 pm

Good stuff then. I wanted to be sure we're all on the same page, particularly regarding (1) the need for local (state, region) authority to generally rule the day on the city name question, and (2) the general requirement that decisions be based on factual information (i.e., city/town/village/township limits and CDP boundaries) in the normal course of operation.

Other unincorporated communities (without CDP or USPS name) do exist but are typically rather hard to nail down with borders or boundaries, but local exceptions can be used in cases where an unincorporated community can be reasonably defined. Just came across an example of this today (Crown Point, LA) which had already been mapped.

I agree with Kartographer's draft changes.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby herrchin » Wed May 22, 2019 7:07 pm

I would propose that the Road names infobox text be relocated into the body of the section. It is not our typical Waze wiki style to pull guidance out into an infobox, and it reads as end-all guidance, whereas the later text clarifies it is not:

section body text wrote:There are other standards in place for other purposes requiring adding other street data in the the alternate. The addition of the USPS data does not change any other standards but is in addition to anything existing already on those affected segments.


Kartographer: when you transpose to the wiki, a grammatical error snuck into both places as "That may means many addresses...".
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Wed May 22, 2019 7:22 pm

sketch wrote:Other unincorporated communities (without CDP or USPS name) do exist but are typically rather hard to nail down with borders or boundaries, but local exceptions can be used in cases where an unincorporated community can be reasonably defined.

Could we go so far, at a national level, as to say that a USPS name is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for mapping a city using segments' primary name field?

Some CDPs do not have USPS names. For example, the University of California at Davis has its own CDP separate from the town of Davis. However, all the mailing addresses within the University use Davis as the city. Unlike the fairly unique example of Stanford, California, the University does not think it is located in the "City of UC Davis", the dedicated CDP notwithstanding.

Allowing city names uncorroborated by USPS seems perilously close to mapping neighborhoods, which it's been my understanding we don't do at the present time.

We can do this at a state level of course, but if there might be national agreement on that, better still.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby Kartografer » Wed May 22, 2019 8:09 pm

DwarfLord wrote:Could we go so far, at a national level, as to say that a USPS name is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for mapping a city using segments' primary name field?

At least in my state, I know of many incorporated villages whose names are not used by the USPS. Those should definitely be mapped. I have argued in the past that in Ohio, CDPs that don't appear in postal addresses should not be mapped, but I am not so sure now. It doesn't hurt to have them on the map, especially where their boundaries are marked on road signs. Also, I guess I don't feel like the assigning of city names to ZIP codes by the postal service is a corroboration of the existence of a populated place, since their primary purpose is improved routing of mail.

herrchin wrote:Kartographer: when you transpose to the wiki, a grammatical error snuck into both places as "That may means many addresses...".

I struck through the s when I first posted this, but it's hard to see. And everyone here seems to think my name has ph in it ;)
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby sketch » Wed May 22, 2019 8:12 pm

DwarfLord wrote:
sketch wrote:Other unincorporated communities (without CDP or USPS name) do exist but are typically rather hard to nail down with borders or boundaries, but local exceptions can be used in cases where an unincorporated community can be reasonably defined.

Could we go so far, at a national level, as to say that a USPS name is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for mapping a city using segments' primary name field?

Some CDPs do not have USPS names. For example, the University of California at Davis has its own CDP separate from the town of Davis. However, all the mailing addresses within the University use Davis as the city. Unlike the fairly unique example of Stanford, California, the University does not think it is located in the "City of UC Davis", the dedicated CDP notwithstanding.

Allowing city names uncorroborated by USPS seems perilously close to mapping neighborhoods, which it's been my understanding we don't do at the present time.

We can do this at a state level of course, but if there might be national agreement on that, better still.

No, I don't agree with this. I've been working a lot of city names in Louisiana the past few weeks and been learning a lot about them. There are CDPs with names I'm quite familiar with but which aren't used as the primary USPS name anywhere.

In fact, very near to me and adjacent to my own CDP (Metairie, which is also the USPS name), there exist a trio of places—two CDPs and an incorporated city—which all share the 70123 zip code, the preferred USPS city name of which is, inexplicably, New Orleans. They are not in the same parish as New Orleans, nor are they immediately adjacent to New Orleans or Orleans Parish (which are coterminous), separated therefrom by the CDP named Jefferson, ZIP code 70121.

These 3 names are known to everyone in the area, and one of them, Harahan (pop. 9,277), is a city with its own mayor and police department and everything. The other two are River Ridge (pop. 13,494) and Elmwood (pop. 4,635; but mostly commercial & industrial). No one in their right mind would ever dare call any of these "New Orleans".

That alone is reason enough that such a rule can't work in practice. Those aren't the only examples, though.

At any rate, CDPs are designed by the Census Bureau to represent communities of people as they are known and as they exist on the ground. USPS decisions on mail routes are not primarily concerned with such analysis, and are largely decided for efficiency of mail delivery.

Further, I would argue that the information we have access to on CDP boundaries is more reliable and trustworthy than information we have on exactly the extent of USPS city names and zip codes. There is a CDP named Paincourtville, a community with a population of 911. If you believe the "USPS routes" found by USGB, there is no ZIP code or USPS city name for Paincourtville; it is bisected by the ZIP codes for Belle Rose (itself a CDP; pop. 1,902) and Napoleonville (a village, pop. 660). If you believe the ZIP code map layer also found by USGB, there is a Paincourtville ZIP code, but only about half of the Paincourtville CDP and community is in it, and the other half is in the ZIP code for Napoleonville. Who to trust?

I don't know, but I know that the city limits imported by Cities Overlay are pretty darn good, and the CDP boundaries are too. I can be confident that Paincourtville is Paincourtville, that user reports will include the city Paincourtville, that people who live in Paincourtville can give their address as Paincourtville, that Paincourtville will be accurately represented on the map, etc.

One thing I did worry about is the way that search works for CDPs that are thought of more as neighborhood names than as city names. But my worries were allayed when I tested it myself. Timberlane (pop. 10,243) is a CDP that is often thought of as a neighborhood of Gretna (pop. 17,736; parish seat of Jefferson Parish), as it is "Gretna" per the USPS. "Timberlane" is a name I've heard many times before, so I decided to see what would happen if I changed the primary name of all the streets in Timberlane to Timberlane, and ensured the alt name Gretna was present. Well, searching for an address in Timberlane with Gretna as the city name, you'd never know Timberlane was there at all. You get "400 Bellemeade Dr, Gretna" as your search result as if that's the only name. Meanwhile, you get the useful "Timberlane" labels on the map and in road reports.

Whew, I'm getting a little long-winded here. Point is, it won't work here. I don't think the existence of a USPS name is a necessity. I think these are communities that exist with names that are known, otherwise they wouldn't be CDPs. My not having heard of a CDP name 45 minutes away doesn't mean that the people who live and drive in that area aren't familiar with the name of that community. I have seen enough examples of CDPs for places I do know about that I consider the CDP to be a good indicator of location and surely worthy of being on the map. And given that they're invisible in address searches that don't use them, all the more reason.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Wed May 22, 2019 9:07 pm

You've clearly been working a lot on this topic, thanks for the detailed thoughts!

To be clear, my thinking was not that a city name must be a primary USPS name to be eligible, but that it simply be corroborated by USPS. USPS is able to recognize/support different city names for the same zip code; that's good enough for me.

So, using the USPS tool for looking up zip code given city and state, I tried some of the names you listed. Results:

HARAHAN LA 70123
RIVER RIDGE LA 70123
ELMWOOD LA 70123

(The result for Paincourtville was a bit funny, but it was there:)
PAINCOURTVILLE LA 70391
This ZIP Code™ used for a specific PO BOX

BELLE ROSE LA 70341
NAPOLEONVILLE LA 70390

(For "Timberlane" USPS spit back "Timberlake" -- different town?)
TIMBERLAKE LA 71485

(Three results for Gretna)
GRETNA LA 70053
GRETNA LA 70054
This ZIP Code™ used for a specific PO BOX
GRETNA LA 70056

With the exception of Timberlane, the USPS recognized and was willing to handle all the names you mentioned. So all of them except Timberlane would pass my proposed necessary-but-not-sufficient test for a valid city name. From what you said it sounds like Timberlane is kind of on the hairy edge of being a neighborhood?

p.s. I'm definitely not proposing using anything from the USPS to determine boundaries! My proposal regarding USPS was just as a verification step for city names.
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