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There are quite a few recreational water facilities - fishing ponds, model boating lakes, etc. - near me but most don't have any safety equipment - life rings etc. - installed beside them and none have a lifeguard at any time of the year. (Basically, you get yourself in, you get yourself out!)

Should I be putting something on the map to give any kind of warning to visitors? And, if so, what's the best way to do it?

I've thought about using an "emergency=no" tag but that doesn't sound right. On the other hand, "life saving equipment=no" sounds better but I don't know if that's a good way to do it, and I don't think it will show up on the map anyway.

asked 02 Jan '15, 14:10

Garry%20Patchett's gravatar image

Garry Patchett
accept rate: 0%

OpenStreetMap is, generally speaking, bad at mapping the lack of things, for the reasons you are encountering - how to distinguish something that's definitely not there from something that hasn't been mapped yet. If you're interested in various ideas about the topic, read the discussions about the proposed Noname Feature which reflects the same thing (and one of the suggestions there is indeed a general tag of something:absent=yes which would work for emergency equipemnt too). None of these suggestions has gained any traction though.

Globally speaking, water bodies without life saving equipment are the norm and those with life saving equipment are the exception so I think it is unlikely that any standard map would choose to specially mark water bodies without equipment.

I'd suggest that you make an effort to tag existing life saving equipment at locations in the vicinity. At least to someone who looks more closely, this will signal: "Uh, lots of life saving equipment in that area but conspicuously none at that lake... probably because there isn't any else the prolific mapper would surely have mapped it."

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answered 02 Jan '15, 15:28

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%


Thanks for the extra info Frederik.

After reading some of the discussion about Noname I think I'll go down the route of not tagging something that isn't there until I hear that there's a definitive method and reason to do otherwise.

(04 Jan '15, 12:40) Garry Patchett

Somehow I suspect that there is no satisfactory answer to your question.

I could make an argument that documenting that there is no safety equipment is good to differentiate from simply no safety equipement surveyed, which IF you had access to the information in an emergency could actually make a difference.

But on the other hand, from a legal and liability point of view, I think the better position is to assume and promote that if there is no safety equipment mapped, you are on your own, well actually even it there IS some mapped (given there is no guranteed that it was mapped correctly, is still there etc etc).

In other words: I wouldn't tag anything.

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answered 02 Jan '15, 15:07

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦
accept rate: 18%


Not tagging anything sounds good to me. I just wasn't sure so I thought I'd ask.

I hadn't even thought about the legal aspects but what you've said makes sense. My own thinking would be: "Assume there's no safety equipment and take your own if you're that worried about it".


(02 Jan '15, 15:24) Garry Patchett

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question asked: 02 Jan '15, 14:10

question was seen: 3,600 times

last updated: 04 Jan '15, 12:40

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