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(This may be UK specific) Blocks of flats (apartments) in the UK have various arrangements for the delivery of (letter) mail and leaflets etc to the occupants. There may be a letterflap in each (internal) apartment door, and the apartments themselves may or may not (these days, usually not) be accessible to the public. There may be a bank of mailboxes in a shared lobby (usually inaccessible to the public) or outside the building (usually accessible to the public). For more 'informal' blocks, which might be better described as 'bedsits' or 'houses in multiple occupation' (HMOs) there may be a single, communal letterflap in the main entrance. Some blocks have no letterboxes (for certain types of sheltered or secure blocks). Would it be appropriate to have a tag along the lines of "flats:letter_delivery=*" with possible values "internal_doorflap" (with possible modifier "access=private"), "internal_mailbox" (with possible modifier "access=private"), "external_mailbox", "communal_letterflap" or "none"? Perhaps there is already a good way of doing this, but I can't find it. Thank you for any guidance.

asked 13 Dec '16, 22:58

Libarch's gravatar image

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edited 14 Dec '16, 22:58

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

Certainly not UK specific, although in some areas there are letter boxes beyond a locked door, but the postman has a key.

(14 Dec '16, 09:58) SK53 ♦

Yes, they may have a key or an electronic key fob. Some local blocks also have a keypad for which the postman has a code. Others have a 'trade' bell, which may call a concierge but much more likely (if it works at all) activates a door release at certain times only (eg weekday mornings).

(14 Dec '16, 10:46) Libarch

Like Ed Loach I initially felt that this might be a level of detail of little interest to typical mappers, but on reflection I thought of at least one relevant application: leafleting during election campaigns.

For a tag I would start with delivery_point which is the term used by the Royal Mail, with perhaps delivery_point:type for your various options. Perhaps with mail_ or postal_ prepended to distinguish from other types of delivery.

The most difficult point is that this highlights that addresses have multiple uses, at the very least: for the property, for the land parcel, for the property entrance and for the mail delivery point. The current address mapping is based on the Karlsruhe scheme where the original intention was to map postal addresses, and thus in principle should map the actual delivery point. In practice we use address data in the Karlsruhe format for other purposes.

I personally believe it is entirely valid to add the same address information to multiple OSM elements, and thus I don't have any philosophical problems with re-adding address information to a delivery point if it already exists on the main entrance or on the property. From a practical point I'm rather less convinced that this is a good thing.

(An aside, addresses are best treated as 1st class objects in conventional normalised DB schemas, i.e., not as attributes of other elements, but this approach is not really practical in OSM as it would require a relation for every address).

So in conclusion I would suggest in the first instance to add an additional tagdelivery_point:type=letter_box|external_mailbox|communal_letterflap etc. on the existing OSM element with address tags.

Dealing with the actual location of the delivery point and address information requires rather more thought & experimentation.

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answered 14 Dec '16, 10:52

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 22%


Leafletting for a political organisation is exactly the application I had in mind. The most important distinction I would like to be able to record is between the usual (default?) case whereby any member of the public can deliver a letterbox-sized item to a specific household, and other cases (usually blocks of flats) where such access is restricted as I described and 'special measures' are necessary (ie delivering at certain times, contacting one of the occupants etc)

(14 Dec '16, 12:06) Libarch

Then I think my suggestion should work fine for this usecase. :-)

(14 Dec '16, 12:54) SK53 ♦

I've very quickly used taginfo to search for letter, mail and post and can't see anything obvious. I suspect it is a level of detail that few mappers have considered with many areas still lacking addresses, let alone the physical location of where you'd be able to get an envelope to that address. Your suggested tags are therefore a good starting point, and if another set of tags gets used in future as long as you've used yours consistently hopefully they are then easy to find and update.

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answered 14 Dec '16, 08:33

EdLoach's gravatar image

EdLoach ♦
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question asked: 13 Dec '16, 22:58

question was seen: 2,455 times

last updated: 14 Dec '16, 22:58

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