What POI attributes does OpenStreetMap accept?

Information about what information can be stored in OSM?
OSM is primarily a geodatabase, so every information must have a connection to a physical location.

POI attributes are stored as tags on OSM objects.

At first, some technical specs about a tag:

  • Tags are key-value pairs, written as “key”=“value”
  • Tags are free text, but for the most used features, tagging standards have been developed.
  • Language for machine-readable tags is English.
  • Established tags are documented in the OSM-Wiki.
  • Even values (like maxspeed=30) are treated as text internally.
  • Maximum length for either key and value are 254 characters each.
  • Everything is UTF-8, you can use any language and characters available worldwide.
  • For keys, using other than ASCII (subset) is discouraged.
  • Free-text values (e.g. street names) can be suffixed with a language on the key, to allow multilingual values.
  • Only text can be stored (and has to be human readable) - for ‘data’ like images, you can set a link to an external storage instead.

So which type of information is accepted in OpenStreetMap? - See Good practice.

  1. ‘Ground truth’ data - things that can be verified on site.
  2. Static things that live ‘longer’, -> no events.
  3. Only objective classifications (e.g. this street is 5m wide)
  4. Links pointing to other services where more information is provided (A restaurant’s website, Wikipedia entry)

Which are not?

  1. Subjective meanings, where no common agreement exists (e.g. this is a dangerous district at night)
  2. Ratings (Bad food in this restaurant)
  3. Attributes that cannot be verified independently.
  4. Fictional stuff (e.g. the place where Harry Potter was born)
  5. ‘Virtual’ connections between POIs, e.g. value flows.
  6. Historical features no longer visible (e.g. if a building has been razed, it should be deleted in OSM too)
  7. Temporal stuff like events. Some exceptions to occur for big events where maps of the site are useful, e.g. for Burning Man Festival.
  8. ‘catchment areas’ like wifi coverage or delivery radius of a food coop.

More information:

List of common tags:

  • Address: addr:*=
  • Names (name, alt_name, old_name, official_name, …)
  • contact: data. (website, email, phone, fax, contact name, social media sites, …)
  • for ‘Main tags’ like amenity=, shop= see the OSM-Wiki: Map Features.
  • wheelchair usability
  • smoking allowed
  • cuisine=* for restaurants etc
  • Opening hours
  • text description (use only for information where no machine-readable established tag exists)
  • organic, fair_trade, second_hand (=only/yes/limited/no) classification for shops/restaurants etc
  • diet:*= for tagging where you can get food according to your needs (e.g. gluten_free, or vegan)
  • access restrictions (e.g. only for members, or private access)
  • start_date (‘founding’ date of POI)
  • wikipedia, wikidata= for links to WP or Wikidata
  • image=http:// … link to image for POI
  • fee=yes/no does it cost money to use it? (e.g. parking lots)
  • payment:none=yes can you get something for free here?
  • owner specify (which company?) owns the business
  • operator specify the operator’s name (e.g. for franchises)
  • brand - (e.g. T-Mobile for a telephone cell)
  • internet_access available
  • payment:* methods available (cash, bitcoin, credit cards etc)
  • level - in which floor is it. there are also a lot more 3D-mapping tags (mainly for buildings)

Special tags for internal use:

  • “source” for describing where is this information from
  • “note” - a note to other mappers (e.g. Yes, the name it is really spelled with a “Deppenapostroph”)
  • “fixme” - a hint to other mappers that this needs further investigation/refinement

And a LOT more… feel free to add here or propose new ones to OSM!

There are some TransforMap tags in development for proposal in OSM.


@species Thank you.

I would like to point out that OSM has chosen some strong principles:

clear border: it is very clear, what to include into OSM and what not. Everything for which evidence can be found by inspecting the ground fits into OSM, all other: not.

a “Do not seek for consensus” approach for their tags: anyone can use whatever tags and values for their data. Usage patterns / best practices are documented in the wiki.

wiki-mode: anyone can edit any data, backed up by history