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Recently a note I'd commented on was resolved, without action, with the statement "Individual units in private residential developments are not mapped for reasons of privacy."

I'm reasonably experienced on OSM, and this is news to me, and the existence of the addr:unit=* tag seems to contradict this. Is there any validity to their statement?

asked 22 Aug '19, 07:56

keithonearth's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

edited 22 Aug '19, 08:18

I don't see how a unit# in any way differs from a housenumber. I would agree it is common practice to map the units, at least if the premises are somehow accessible by the public or visitors. But we even map building numbers inside factories for example.

Still the other comment was valid: From the position of the comment it is not clear where this address is to be put.

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answered 22 Aug '19, 09:03

TZorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

I'm not concerned about the specific address, note, or location, but it was presented as a rule to be applied universally. If I'm optimistic they were just wrong, but I didn't want to rule out the fact that I'd just been wrong for a long time. Although I seldom map unit numbers.

(22 Aug '19, 17:52) keithonearth

I don't think you're wrong. I can't see how a unit number could violate someone's privacy. The occupant's name, sure. The number on the door, no. Also, being inside a private residential development doesn't make a difference, since pretty much all addressed entities are on private property.

(22 Aug '19, 21:36) alester

It appears to me that these numbers are signed in a visible way on a public street -- this picture shows 55 and 56:

If these are indeed the unit numbers, then I'd say their inclusion in OSM 100% legit. But as you said in your note comment, there's no way of knowing where to map unit 65, or what the scope of 10220 Dunoon Drive is. And since this is a 3-year-old note from a user with no map contributions, I wouldn't hold out much hope for clarification.

I'm guessing the commenter DENelson83 isn't familiar with this style of addressing and presumed that unit numbers referred to individual apartments in a residential building, accessed by a shared entrance. Those, IMO and by common practice, don't belong on the map. (You can still list the apartments listed for an address or entrance using addr:flats, but we don't try to map the position of each unit in the building's interior.)

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answered 22 Aug '19, 16:03

jmapb's gravatar image

accept rate: 22%

edited 22 Aug '19, 16:44

I feel I should clarify. My specific concern here is that the unit numbers cannot be obtained through a ground survey without the requirement to trespass on private property to access them.

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answered 23 Aug '19, 02:19

DENelson83's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


Looking at the previously mentioned OpenStreetCam pictures I don't have the feeling you would have to be trespassing to survey.

But I think it is even common practice to map such things even on only semi-public premises. If you get legitimate access to a site and the owners don't want to keep it obscure by all means map what you see.

(23 Aug '19, 06:40) TZorn

Hi DENelson83, thanks for clarifying, I'd not understood that's what you meant in the note comment.

Lets set aside this particular location, and whether you need to trespass to access the address unit number. I really don't care about that particular location.

I agree that we shouldn't trespass to do mapping, but there is plenty of valid reasons for a OSM contributor to be in a private place, and if the contributor wants to add some data that can only be obtained while on private property I'm convinced that is fine.

An example might be a delivery company, who's in a private complex, and adds unit numbers within that complex. That could be very useful for delivery drivers, and they have a valid reason to be there. They are not trespassing. Another example could be a private camp, that only accepts paying guests. Those guests may map while they are there, despite it being private. In either case it's helpful to remember to include access tags.

Here's an example of a question about mapping private land.

(23 Aug '19, 08:05) keithonearth

An additional application area would be for accessibility (e.g., disabled, blind people) who would need extra information regarding how to find a specific apartment. In general we don't do this for lots of reasons: its a lot of work, we cant access places for survey, it has little impact on many usecases, it would require indoor mapping etc., etc.

(23 Aug '19, 13:11) SK53 ♦

A minor difference of wording, but I'd say that in general it doesn't get done, but not that "we don't do this", which could be interpreted as a prohibition against mapping those details.

(23 Aug '19, 19:57) keithonearth

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question asked: 22 Aug '19, 07:56

question was seen: 1,752 times

last updated: 23 Aug '19, 19:57

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