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I work at a boarding high school and I see that many of our dorms are identified on the map. For safety concerns, we have always had a policy of not identifying dorms on any publicly available map. Is there any way to get the names of our dorms permanently removed from the map?

asked 16 Sep '13, 23:08

sporter63's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 17 Sep '13, 07:26

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦


Do you provide information on dorm names in prospectuses and material for alumni? If you do, this information will be widely disseminated. In the UK the people who add this type of information are most often alumni.

(17 Sep '13, 12:52) SK53 ♦


OpenStreetMap will always accept building names if they're correct and their addition is legal; removing such information could be interpreted as vandalism by some. If you remove the building names then it is quite possible someone else adds them back in, and you can't tidy up the area forever. The only way to get your data "officially removed" from OSM would be if you could show that it was copyrighted information (e.g. copied from another map) or publishing it was violating the law (e.g. names of occupants), where "the law" would largely mean "English law" since that's where OSM is based. (We don't stop mapping China just because it is against Chinese law.)

You can of course reach out to the mappers (and in fact before you remove anything you should reach out to whoever added the building names in the first place) and try to convince them that adding in the building names is not a good idea. If you are with the school administration and the mappers in question should turn out to be employees or students then that would probably make for a more convincing argument on your side. But in the long run it is unlikely that you will be able to keep this information out of OpenStreetMap.

(NB in many cases where OSM has been contacted about sensitive information that shouldn't be on the map, a quick search with the search engine of your choice revealed that the information was already public.)

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answered 17 Sep '13, 07:25

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

edited 17 Sep '13, 07:26


Even nuclear power stations are well mapped in OSM. Then safety about dorms... One solution might be to change the name. e.g. from "Dorms" to "Building C" and a note about your safety concerns for the next contributors (note=for safety reasons, the school administration would appreciate blabla". And check from time to time the OSM content (or develop a tool doing this automatically for you).

(17 Sep '13, 10:16) Pieren

I would say that no one should ever remove data (correct, up-to-date, not copyrighted data, that is) from OSM. Creating any exceptions to this rule equates opening a huge "can of worms", since different groups have different interpretations on what constitutes acceptable privacy rules, different notions of what is safe and not safe to be on a map, and so on.

If data was publicly available, and was added to the OSM database, it'll continue to be publicly available after the fact anyway.

(17 Sep '13, 19:12) MCPicoli

Contributions to the map database are open to all and I don't know of an authority that can or will ban things like marking and naming buildings.

There are a number of tools that allow you to monitor changes in an area. I suggest that you edit the offending objects to remove the name(s) and add a note tag to each when you do that saying why you did it. Then just keep monitoring the area to detect if some mapper decides to add the names back.

Probably not a very satisfying answer for you who wants the names removed or for the OpenStreetMap community who wish to map what they see and know about. I can envision the possibility of "edit wars". . .

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answered 17 Sep '13, 00:46

n76's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

edited 17 Sep '13, 00:47

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question asked: 16 Sep '13, 23:08

question was seen: 7,869 times

last updated: 19 Sep '13, 15:47

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum