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

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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DrivingWithBill » Fri May 24, 2019 3:53 am

Newbie here, and still trying to get up to speed on the whole "City" issue. This has been something I am trying to better understand and

A couple of questions:
-Can we define or link better to what is the City Polygon, I dont have a clue on that topic?
-It sounds like there are a couple of different types of cities being thrown around: municipal, CDP and USPS, are there others that commonly get used?
-Is there a limit to the number of alternative cities that can be used for one location?
-Is there a better way to see the waze city limits in the editor?

I have recently been trying to look at this issue in New York, as where I live the division of the communities ranges from: City, Town, Villages and Hamlets (I guess a CPD). This appears to be a long standing challenge for the state.


Looking at Queens recently I saw that some of the Postal/Neighborhood names were being utilized. However reviewing zip codes for Queens, there are over 20 recommended names, and many more if you go with the other ones, and this is not event getting into the whole "Avoid" group. The number of possible city names for a location could quickly grow. Any suggestions?

Further, looking out on Long Island, Suffolk Countyhas a really useful GIS for this types of topics, with many municipal boundaries available. Reviewing the zip codes of Suffolk County, it appears that the almost all the ZIp Code cities reflect municipal names, while municipalities may not reflect the USPS names. It is quickly apparent that none of these cleanly align and that neither is really a good standard

Now the added complexity becomes with many roads having alt names and multiple possible cities what to do? Is waze even able to handle if we did all the alt names on a segment even if it is potentially 7 different cities. Where is the line?
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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 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 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 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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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Wed May 22, 2019 9:51 pm

The zip code finder I linked previously spits out:

FINNEYTOWN OH 45224
FINNEYTOWN OH 45231

So the USPS corroborates the town name. Under my suggestion, this would mean that the name Finneytown could not be ruled out based on USPS data alone but perhaps there could be other reasons to disallow it on the Waze map.

How does the USPS discourage the use of the name Finneytown? I'm wondering how the USPS stance manifests. The USPS town-to-zip-code finder website isn't displaying anything that looks like discouragement.

One example I'm familiar with is the Santa Barbara airport property. The Santa Barbara airport is legally and formally part of the incorporated city of Santa Barbara, even though it shares no land connection with the rest of Santa Barbara (long story). Meanwhile, its zip code is that of the adjacent town, Goleta, CA 93117. You could say that Goleta "owns" that zip code, but in reality the USPS happily recognizes Santa Barbara, CA 93117. I've never heard anyone say that the USPS doesn't want people using the city name Santa Barbara for things going to 93117, at least not to the airport.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Thu May 23, 2019 3:06 pm

sketch wrote:As I understand it you're saying "you can use the CDP name, with the CDP's boundaries, as long as somewhere (I mean, somewhere in or near the CDP, whether or not there are any associated routes or boundaries), the USPS says it's an acceptable city name. Again, I understand, I just don't agree based on the examples I've come across so far.

Yes, that's my thinking. However, Kartografer's additional USPS info has made me question the utility of depending on the USPS. One of their websites says "oh yes, we recognize this name" while another of their websites says "we recognize the name but you shouldn't use it" without saying why.

Meanwhile USPS mail delivery at my office has been gradually declining to third-world quality, with parcel locker keys regularly going missing and taking several years (!!!) to be replaced, mail frequently misdelivered to other offices, and boxes "delivered" by being left in public areas. So I'm not a huge fan of the USPS at the moment. If there are good counterexamples of towns the Waze map should show that the USPS doesn't know anything about I'm not going to push for it.

I was simply hoping to find some reliable and independent means of distinguishing a neighborhood from a bona fide populated place worthy of display. As others said earlier in this thread with regards to CDP and FC, independent validation is generally much better than our sticking our fingers in the air and saying yeah or nah. CDPs have shown themselves to be inadequate for this purpose in my experience. The search continues, I guess...
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Fri May 24, 2019 3:32 pm

sketch wrote: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.

Sketch — I just looked at this location (you mean 400 Bellemeade Blvd, not 400 Bellemeade Dr, right?). There do not appear to be House Numbers for that street on the Waze map. Using the app to search for 400 Bellemeade does return Gretna, but isn't that because it's getting the the pin from Google, which returns Gretna? Would the Waze app search switch to Timberlane if the HN were enabled?

[EDIT: Link to Bellemeade Blvd, Gretna, LA]
Last edited by DwarfLord on Fri May 24, 2019 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Fri May 24, 2019 3:52 pm

Ah, OK. So, I duplicated your results! The app says Gretna in the initial search screen, in the destination info pane, and in the routing instructions (after a 2033-mile drive on I-10 E). But now I'm bewildered as to why, when Timberlane has been assigned as that location's primary city. It means Waze must be deciding to ignore the primary city in favor of other data.

Do we know why this is happening and where those "other data" are that Waze is using? Google? If Waze ignores the primary city under some circumstances and for some purposes I'd have to reframe my thinking about this.
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Re: [PAGE UPDATE] City names (in Road name, Road name/city n

Postby DwarfLord » Fri May 24, 2019 5:06 pm

Kartografer wrote:Back to DL's amended proposal:
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?

By USPS name, you don't mean existence as a preferred or other recognized name for a ZIP code but rather simply whether putting the city and state into the ZIP code finder by city and state tool spits out a result?

Correct. The idea was that, when faced with the question of whether it's a "neighborhood" or a "bona fide city", a necessary (but not sufficient!) condition would be if USPS simply recognizes the name in any context, even a deprecated context. If USPS gives no results for the name at all, that would rule it out for use in the primary name field (i.e. it would be a neighborhood). If USPS did recognize the name, that would not be the end of the decision tree; one would then move on to whatever other criteria are applicable.

Kartografer wrote:@DL, it seems like with Timberlane and Gretna, Google search is converting Timberlane into Gretna as the preferred address, then passing that over to Waze.

Indeed, that would be my first take, and if I'm not mistaken sketch's as well. One question is whether Waze is doing things that way intentionally or whether it is a byproduct of some other decision that could be revisited in the future, with consequent changes to preferred address formation.
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