Question about missing city spreadsheet

One comment I see, often, in the spreadsheet, is no border (or boundary) in OSM. Is this an OSM edit anyone can do? If so, I’d be willing to give it a try for the (two) places I added.

@tkajstura I’m also unsure what this means :smile:

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I’m no OSM expert, but in my area, there was a town that was only a node, no border. I had to combine a set of OSM “ways” to make the border in what OSM calls a “relation”.

What to put into the “relation” to classify it is above my pay grade, and seems to be a matter for debate even among those who frequently edit OSM.

It also turns out if I were better at OSM, the relation for that local town actually existed in the past and someone deleted it by accident - those good at OSM kind find those sorts of things and “undelete” them.

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When I write “no border/boundary in OSM” on the missing city spreadsheet it means there are no ways (the OSM term) that can be used to make a functional boundary for the city. New data will have to be brought into OSM before anything can be done on the CS side. I do a lot of looking before I write this, because as @jpbari points out sometimes the data is there and just not labeled. A boundary in OSM doesn’t have to be a relation, and there’s really not a lot of debate over what to label relations and classifications so much as a lot of misunderstanding as it’s really confusing and region dependent.

@ericjrw - is this an edit anyone can do in OSM? Yes, though at a baseline you’ll have to pick up knowledge of shapefiles, map projections, using an editor such as JOSM, and then there’s a lot of due diligence in terms of making sure the source is valid, works with the OSM license, and is in accordance with best practices for OSM import guidelines. It is something that I would strongly discourage from doing in a one-off manner. If you want to help with boundary level imports in OSM I would really view this as picking up OSM as a hobby, not doing a quick edit to get a city into CityStrides. Most of the areas that are lacking boundaries (say, Queensland) are missing it because OSM can’t get the permission to use the data even though it exists - it’s not due to a lack of interest in the OSM community to have that data in.

If anyone wants to learn more about boundaries in OSM I’m happy to share resources and coach, but the short of it is that most of what is on the missing city sheet right now cannot be fixed, or would require a lot of work. I spent 3 hours getting the boundaries for a city in last week only to realize after that even though the boundary data is open source a specific waiver was not granted to OSM so that source can’t be used. Expect to invest significant time in this is you go down this rabbit hole.


The only thing I’d add is that the boundary has to be a “real” boundary, not just something to get it into City Strides.

This morning I looked for the town that my brother-in-law lives, with the idea of tracking my holiday runs. But the town of Fork, MD isn’t listed on CS. So I did a little more research, and discovered that Fork isn’t incorporated. There’s no town there. Without a legal boundary, what would you set up as a boundary? Remember that OpenStreetMap is not merely the data source for CS; it’s used far more places.

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I agree with this wholeheartedly. This is why I discourage doing these edits on a one-off basis - it is rare the correct data exists and simply hasn’t been brought in yet. Takes a lot of background work to update. I made a lot of mistakes when starting out and had to revert multiple OSM changes.

For Fork, MD and other unincorporated towns/cities, if a boundary is available (say from the Fork government data group), you could upload that (if licenses allow) and tag it as an administrative boundary, but without an admin_level (see here: That same link (but above) has a section on census designated places - that data is easily available - which some areas accept for use when no other boundary exists (but in this case it is strictly not an administrative boundary, since that only refers to governmental organization).