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Where I map, there are often old sections of communities that are referred to as their downtown. These often include retail shops, restaurants, bars, and offices, but they are all lumped under the name 'downtown'. What is the correct landuse to map an entire downtown under?

asked 21 Jan '14, 23:52

ItalianMustache's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

This is a lightly edited version of a reply I wrote some time ago on the OSM Forum:

The way I have approached this is to think of the primary categories as a hierarchy, something like retail -> commercial -> industrial -> residential. These days there is little overlap of industrial/residential, but in town and city centres if the predominant ground floor usage is retail I'll tag the landuse as retail, if office buildings at ground floor level, then commercial and so forth.

It is usual that the "Downtown", "City Centre", "Stadt Mitte" consists of a retail core with an outer ring of offices and other commericial premises.

Thus an area like that around Langstrasse in Zurich, where there are shops (and dodgy nightclubs) on the ground floor and in basements, offices in higher levels of buildings and apartments in the attics, would be tagged retail. This makes sense if you think about what you observe in terms of movement and types of people in the area (footfall). You will also see this reflected in rental values for the ground floor sites, local authority zoning regulations etc.

Once you have applied the main landuse tag there is plenty of scope for adding additional tags, such as residential=*. For instance I have used residential=student_village to distinguish residential landuse for gated sets of flats which can only be rented to students. One could also imagine adding tags for secondary landuse (e.g., landuse=retail, secondary_landuse=residential), although I am unaware of such usage.

The key to these things is to ask what you want to use it for. We have established that OSM landuse has a good correspondence (both qualitatively and quantitatively, see with other landuse/landcover schemes such as CORINE and Urban Atlas of the European Environment Agency. Example applications of landuse/landcover include: hydrological models (using assumptions about runoff and surface sealing), retail planning, ecological information (my own interest), resource utilisation, traffic demand models, etc. See for instance these recent blog posts by Tom Chance. Within OSM we may well use landuse to determine if areas have been adequately mapped: landuse=retail with no shop=* nodes or ways points to missing data and so forth.

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answered 22 Jan '14, 12:39

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 22%

While I agree there is some kind of loose hierarchy, I'm not sure I agree with the one you posted. "commercial" includes retail, and other rarely-used values. Retail/industrial/residential are narrow enough to be at the same level of the hierarchy.

Of course most areas have multiple uses (residential is often mixed with the rest), so the landuse tag is only for the predominant use.

As for your Langstrasse example, it really looks like commercial to me, not retail.

(22 Jan '14, 16:25) Vincent de P... ♦

That is a matter for interpretation, local mappers have tagged it residential, which in my view is inaccurate. I chose the example because I lived there. Nearly all retail areas have offices and/or residential elements), so if we are to map retail areas accurately we have to accept that retail has priority over other uses. Mapping everything with a mixture of retail & offices as commercial loses quite a lot of useful detail which it is difficult to impossible to recover.

(22 Jan '14, 18:44) SK53 ♦

landuse=commercial is used for those kind of areas (retail & offices & restaurants & misc). While such an area can have a name, usually it's only the case for shopping centers. "name=Downtown" should be applied (if applicable) to the surrounding neighbourhood instead.

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answered 22 Jan '14, 09:13

Vincent%20de%20Phily's gravatar image

Vincent de P... ♦
accept rate: 19%

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question asked: 21 Jan '14, 23:52

question was seen: 5,830 times

last updated: 22 Jan '14, 18:44

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