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Any plans to implement "Improved Regions" for UK?

+3 votes
187 views
I note from http://project-gc.com/Home/CountrySupport that Improved Regions is not implemented for UK. However there exists Open Source boundary data files from the UK's Ordnanace Survey that provides this information royalty free. I've spent a while investigating these polygon files and I'm confident that they meet the criteria used elsewhere. ie: that the boundaries match the existing region boundaries used at Groundspeak.com.

You can see a map of the Groundspeak boundaries on their wiki at https://wiki.groundspeak.com/download/attachments/11173980/ukfullmap.jpg?version=1&modificationDate=1405415769333&api=v2

The Ordnance Survey's Open Data boundary files are available from https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/opendatadownload/products.html - scroll down to look for the Boundary-Line product. You can interactively compare these boundaries with the Groundspeak boundaries at https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/opendata/viewer/index.html and select the boundary layer's tab, then select the first radio button "County, Unitary Authority and Metropolitan" to select which boundaries to show. (Make sure you aren't too zoomed out or the boundaries won't show).

Comparing the Google Earth boundaries file from Groundspeak to the boundary file from Ordnanace survey there appears to be an almost perfect match - certainly as good as there is for most other countries.

Thus as far as I can see there is no practical obstacle to implementing this free boundary data file.

This has many advantages for project-gc -

1) Its an official dataset that matches Groundpseak's boundraries.

2) It retains the majority of counties in place already - primary exception being Scotland where project-gc inexplicably uses boundaries that only ever existed for a brief 21 year period in the late 20th century. Moving to actual current boundaries for Scotland rather than older flash in the pan boundaries that don't mean anything to anyone would be a big step forward.

3) It also means that as any boundaries shift in future you are basing your data on an official source that would be quickly updated.

4) It's entirely royalty free boundary files which may be freely used on a commercial site such as project-gc without requiring negotiations or explicit consent.

 

Given all these advantages is there any timescale for being able to import these boundaries so we in the UK and particularly those of us in Scotland can benefit from accurate meaningful boundaries?
asked Dec 22, 2015 in Feature requests by ShammyLevva (Expert) (8,230 points)

4 Answers

0 votes

From what I can see, there is no region data that matches Groundspeak's regions. They do have a region layer, which seems to be the same as in Openstreetmap. For UK itself, the only difference is that Southern England is a part of South East England according to this and OSM. Groundspeak has them seperated.

The same follows for Scotland and Wales. They are divided into North/South by GS, but not in OSM or the above.

Here follows a list of regions according to Groundspeak, those that begins with an explaination mark doesn't exist in OSM, or in the data you linked.

East Midlands
Eastern England
London
! North Wales
Northeast England
! Northern Scotland
Northwest England
South East England
! South Wales
South West England
! Southern England <- Part of south east in OSM
! Southern Scotland
West Midlands
Yorkshire
 
Then you talk about "County, Unitary Authority and Metropolitan". These are the counties, and it's probably the case that if one joins the correct counties, one will get regions that matches Groundspeak's definition of regions.
 
We have not this far worked with joining polygons into bigger ones, and don't have much technology for it in place. Which means a lot of work.
 
Ideally for us, is when matching data exists in OSM, which is true for most (west world) countries.
answered Dec 23, 2015 by magma1447 (Admin) (208,230 points)
Groundspeak have completely made up the regions they use they don't match any UK regions. However they are simply, as you suspect an amalgam of individual counties.

To join a few of boundaries together and get a region boundary is a trivial process and can be done with a polygon merge which can be done with any number of freely available libraries and takes seconds to do.

Merging polygons is something I do all the time, it is also a one off process that once done would not need to be done again unless the boundaries then changed. As such I'd be more than happy to do the merge for you thus producing perfectly matching Groundspeak regions, and modern up to date officially supported counties.

The data set is from the UK Government backed Ordnance Survey and is thus as official as you can possibly get in the UK.
+1 vote
Is the current region data that project-gc uses provided by OSM? If so what OSM tags are used so I can investigate how these are put together. Since the Groundspeak regions for the UK bear no relation to any other usage in any other site I'm assuming that either you had to specially tag the data or you are using something provided by Groundspeak.

I'm assuming that it would be easier if the entire dataset of polygons were available in OSM? All tagged at a particular level? I'm trying to understand the process so I can prepare an appropriate dataset that would satisfy the Groundspeak regions and the "normal" counties throughout the UK that UK residents would recognise.

My thought is that once you had a useable set of polygons that met the criteria you define you could run a poll of users to see if they would prefer sticking to the existing unusual counties or moving to a more recognisable set of county boundaries.

Thus if you can point me in the direction of any documentation on what you require I can see if I can prepare the necessary files.
answered Dec 29, 2015 by ShammyLevva (Expert) (8,230 points)
We have not had the time to look closer to this yet. To be honest, UK polygons is a bit tiresome due to all the mess. First it's the fact that GS definition of UK is a bit odd (regarding North Ireland). Then it's the part that there are more than one way to divide it into counties.

The regions and counties we have for UK today is built upon old technology we use, but it's build upon adminstrative level 5 and 6 (and maybe 8). There has been some manual adjustments with moving data between them to match.

Imports we do nowadays are based on data from https://osm.wno-edv-service.de/boundaries/ . There one can easily expand the administrative levels and show them on a map. We can then extract the data using this specific site, to a geojson file, which we setup some rules for, and then import.

About the county definitions, it would be possible for us to switch of course. However, I am unsure if a poll will show a true result. It's likely that the opposition to the current setup would be more eager to vote. But still, it could definitely be used as a "hint" to which we should use. If the result is 90% vs 10% and has 200 votes, it's a quite clear result for example. 50/50, is more unclear.

We do have the options to create votes in this QA-system, it's limited to moderators and above though.
Thanks I'll have a look at that OSM data and see what I can put together. I appreciate that only moderators can create polls and totally agree this is the best way to run a forum. I've been a forum moderator before and users running polls gets out of hand fast.
Looking at https://osm.wno-edv-service.de/boundaries/ it already has the current Scottish boundaries at admin_level=6 which is therefore even more surprising that you are using boundaries that haven't been used for 21 years.

The mapping between geocaching.com and OSM admin_level=6 is:

Northern Scotland       
    Name    ID
    Aberdeen City    1900654
    Aberdeenshire    1900655
    Angus    1921172
    Clackmannanshire    1920841
    Dundee City    1921173
    Falkirk    1920842
    Fife    1905841
    Highland    1433249
    Moray    1775792
    Orkney    375982
    Perth and Kinross    1915429
    Shetland    2235077
    Stirling    1905258
    Western Isles    1959008

Southern Scotland       
    Argyll & Bute    1775685
    City of Edinburgh    1920901
    Dumfries and Galloway    1877232
    East Ayrshire    1920348
    East Dunbartonshire    1920660
    East Lothian    1920902
    East Renfrewshire    1921238
    Glasgow City    1906767
    Inverclyde    1921239
    Mid Lothian    1920903
    North Ayrshire    1910014
    North Lanarkshire    1920584
    Renfrewshire    1921240
    Scottish Borders    1919950
    South Ayrshire    1920349
    South Lanarkshire    1921241
    West Dunbartonshire    1920242
    West Lothian    1910704


There are a couple of anomalies on the service you linked: Little Bernera and Great Bernera are tiny islands part of Western Isles so I suspect someone has tagged them with admin_level=6 when it should be 7,8,9, or 10. A minor tidy up.

Given this information is there any reason you can't drop 21 year old boundaries that never existed at any point during the life of geocaching and use the current boundaries which exist with the correct admin layer in the product you use for the rest of the world?
0 votes
I have contacted P-GC a couple of times over the past two years about their English County definitions. I'm not knowledgeable on Scotland but the definitions used by P-GC for England are political/unitary areas and NOT the "Counties" we know and love - I for one would like to see P-GC using 'proper' counties. Groundspeak owned "MyGeocahingProfile" stats site uses the 46 English county definition, not perfect but much much closer than P-GC's definition. Crazy that when, for example, you cache in Leicestershire you do not get a tick for the whole of Leicestershire, but have to travel into Leicester City centre for a find to complete the "county" map. Same with many many other "counties".
 
I hope Magnus and the excellent P-GC team can address this long standing issue - please get rid of the political/unitary definition asap. Thanks
answered Jan 7, 2016 by PlasmaWave (320 points)
Proper county and region maps are now implemented. See my answer below.
0 votes
 
Best answer
Many thanks to ganja1447 for importing the region and county maps I created from the OSM data. As a result we now have UK regions. Yay!
answered Apr 13, 2016 by ShammyLevva (Expert) (8,230 points)
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