Talk:Proposed Features/Importance

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Could somebody look into how this proposal can be merged with Talk:Proposed_features/ref:color? --Skippern 11:50, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

I can't see how this proposal should fit to the mentioned proposal. Could you please amplify on this? -- Skunk 13:42, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Because I think a good network tag is needed to get rendering of references correctly, but this must be combined with a set of rendering rules. IMO the ref:color proposal should be abandoned and replaced by a strong network tag, that again refere to a table of render rules. --Skippern 13:55, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Do you mean network= in the meaning of saying that this route belongs to "Spains Motorways" or "UK trunk roads" ... or in the meaning of a cycleway is a 'ncn' or a 'rcn'? If it's in the first meaning, than you misunderstood this proposal. The idea of this proposal is to suggest some kind of importance of the object (may it be a bus stop, a shop or a cycleway). I don't understand why the coloring of the shields should be connected to this. -- Skunk 14:12, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
I mean network as in Brazilian Federal Road, Espirito Santo State Road, Minas Gerais State Road, and so on, but can also mean Norwegian Riksveg, Norwegian Fylkesveg, E-road network, US Interstate, and what other networks are appropriate for road and sign rendering. I also see the use of it in cycle networks, walkway networks, bus networks and much more. --Skippern 17:03, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

It seems to me like this would vastly oversimplify networks in many places. For instance, around here I can take greyhound buses, megabus, the major city's bus system, the suburban bus system, and college buses between campuses.

Think for example about the OpenCycleMap ... the more you zoom in, the more cycleroutes you see. If you just know "There's a route", you would have to render all of them and you would loose visibility. It's the same for highways: Motorways to connect parts of the country, then primary, secondary, tertiary roads so connect the towns and villages and in the towns and cities you have residential roads and then even service roads. -- Skunk 08:06, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
And how should a renderer know which scale, how important a bus line is? Take cycleways for example (there the network-tag exactly does this): you have 'national' cycleways (ncn), 'regional' cycleways (rcn) and 'local' cycleways (lcn). It doesn't say anything about the name of the network or who operates this cycleway (therefore you have the operator=*-Tag). -- Skunk 08:03, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

I could see greyhound and megabus being national networks, while the others as local or urban, but then I don't see the point of the network= tag if it can't differentiate between completely different networks of buses. --sargas 20:28, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

I would guess that for buses and trains, the network tag should be used in the relations, and not each single stop, as one stop can be covered by several operators. It should be easy enough to extract information about which operators stops at a certain stop, or which stops are covered by a certain operator without getting into a too big multitude of tags and values. But I would also guess that something similar to Greyhound is just as much an operator as a network, and that way can also be covered by an operator tag? A network is more of interest when there are several operator on the same network, for example in many European cities, where you can use your ticket on buses from several operators within a certain time limit. --Skippern 21:23, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, it's the same in Vienna, where I live. We have the Wiener Linien and Blaguss and Dr. Richard and Postbus and some more. They all use the same ticketing system which is operated by the VOR (Verkehrsverbund Ost-Region). So - according to this proposal - the routes should be tagged as network=urban/regional (depends on their scale), operator=Wiener Linien/Blaguss/... and operator_network=Verkehrsverbund Ost-Region. -- Skunk 08:03, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

scale instead of network?

I gave another nights thought, and maybe network is a bad name for this tag. Maybe 'scale' would be better? In the above example this would be: type=route, route=bus/tram/..., ref=something, operator=Wiener Linien/Blaguss, network=Verkehrsverbund Ost-Region, scale=urban/regional. What do you think? Another advantage: There's no tag 'scale' yet. -- Skunk 08:45, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, thats probably a good idea. I can see that also work on state highways of lesser significance also (One of the federal highways here in Brazil is only 1.7km long and leads from the main highway to a small tourist spot, that can be scale=local ) :D --Skippern 13:17, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it's great. "network" as a scale is conflicting with "network" as a name of the network. For bicycle renting network, we should have : network=Vélib, operator=JCDecaux (I am not sure scale is ok here). "scale" is far more clear (may be it should be "network_scale"). -- CharlesNepote 12:58, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

admin_level instead of importance?

What you describes in this tag already exists with the admin_level. So why not simply reusing admin_levels (1 for international, 2 for national, 4 for regions/states, etc...) -- Pieren 15:38, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Hmm, I'm not opposed to use numbers instead of names, but I think the name 'admin_level' is misleading (Think of a church or a bus-stop) ...
  • IMHO fitting names: 'importance', 'scope', 'scale', 'network', ... -- Skunk 06:24, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
+1 for scale, rather than network (that leads to confusion with the 'name' of the network e.g. Ginko in Besançon)
+1 for reusing the number like admin_level FrViPofm 19:27, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

NEW PROPOSAL: scale, admin_level, importance

After reading all the discussion above, this is my proposal:

  • scale=local/suburban/urban/regional/national/international: It describes the physical dimension
  • admin_level=4/3/2/1 It describes the dimension of who manage the network/route/feature (already exists)
  • importance=local/suburban/urban/regional/national/international: It describes the general importance of the network/route/feature

These three tags aren't necessarely correlated and they can be used together or only one. They can be used to relation of relations, relations, as well as elements.


  • the relation of an hiking route tagged as:
    • scale=local + admin_level=2 + importance=international is a small route managed by a national entity (eg: a national park) but with international importance for historic and natural reason. Could be for example a short trail toward a viewpoint in Grand Canyon (USA) visited by millions of tourists
  • they could be useful for natural features: rivers, peaks, ..
    • there are a lot of rivers and peaks similar in lenght or height (eg: scale=regional) but with importance=* a lot different. In these cases admin_level=* is less important but could be used anyway.
  • they could be used for tourism=attraction or amenity=place_of_worships
    • a scale=national + amenity=place_of_worship ? The Gange river ;)
  • they can be used for relation of relations (superrelations?): for example a superrelation of an hiking/cycling network

Is true that scale=* could be computed in postprocessing calculating the lenght of the route/river but if the mapper gives already a general idea is easier for render engines, routing engines and human.

I don't like network=* used for the name of the network. I would prefer network_name=* or using the usual style ntw_name=* . But at the moment network=* used for the name is so much used that it's hard to change.

The most important of these three tags is importance=* because it allows to create a map based on what is important/relevant for humans.

  • At the moment all the peaks are the same, and ele=* is not enough to distinguish them for importance.
  • All places of worship are identical.. the small church in an hamlet as the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
  • The museum of the local traditions of a small french valley at the moment is important as the Louvre.

How can we make a map for humans without importance=* tag ?

--Alessioz 16:55, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Discussion of the proposal

I agree, that it is crucial to render things according to their "importance", but I disagree that this should be an "importance"-tag. Instead we should have subtags to describe the importance. For churches we could have additional tags to describe: the hierarchy of church administration (seat of a bishop cathedral, normal churches, etc.), for cities we add the number of inhabitants (and deal with exceptions like university-towns and towns administrative functions vs. slightly smaller non-university/administrative towns), for boundaries we have adminlevel, the highway-tag itself describes the importance in the grid, importance peaks could be calculated according to the relative height in the context, for areas the importance is already calculated according to the size (in mapnik), museums could be subtagged with the average number of annual visitors, etc. -- Dieterdreist 11:39, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

All the tags in your examples are good Dieterdreist and I agree that specific subtags are good, but it's also necessary to keep simple a first level of tags.

We don't have to tag for rendering, but in the same way we have to simplify their work. All the subtags for all the categories would need of endless stylesheets. Is also possible to compute the lenght of a river or "the relative height of a mountain in the context" but sum all these things and become very heavy to compute.

Adding to this there are things very hard to sub-tag to give an idea of the importance. For example in South America there are hundreds of > 4000m almost unknow peaks but Cerro Torre is only 3,128 m and is worldwide known. Visitors of Cerro Torre are only few tens each year. You could say that is famous because of it's difficulty and is it true, but so in your stylesheet you have to put the mountains famous for: difficulty, absolute height(?),relative height in the context (to compute), historical reasons, visitors, and so on. And everything becomes more and more complicated.

I don't say that importance=* should substitute all the subtags, they are very interesting and useful, but it has to be used as a first level. If a render engine wants a more detailed and objective analysys just skip importance=* and analyze the subtags. --Alessioz 21:57, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Another thing to evaluate is how to distinguish between the scale of the route and the scale of the network. A regional network could have a small local route as well as a regional-long route. scale=* and network_scale=* could be good? --Alessioz 15:02, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

  • scale: in the example above, no need ! a good computer with a good program can comput the scale.
  • admin_level: in the example above, it is the operator. It should be operator:level
  • importance: we very often use network=icn/ncn/rcn/lcn or iwn/nwn/rwn/lwn.
It should be interesting and handfull to have a consistent set of tags for
  • walkink, bicycle, replacing the 2 sets
  • transport (rail, bus...) describing the scale/network/...
I find the numbers very precise and easy to use, rather than the abscond and redundant rwn/lcn (w is, i think for walking, but the information is already in the route=hiking, n is for network, but the information is in the tag itself !)
FrViPofm 23:18, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
The scale of the route and the scale of the network is in fact just information for different objects: networks have their own relation containing all its managed routes (or route masters) and can have its own importance tagged there. Routes (or route masters) have their own importance from an external point of view (outside the network itself), but generally this importance is the same as other routes within the same network.
For this reason, I don't like tagging the importance of individual routes that are part of a network. Additionally, the importance of the network is too much fuzzy and will have no use on rendering: Generally, as the road/street network is very dense, it has lower importance than bus routes that use only a part of them, but the question of importance between bus routes and cycle routes is a matter of map styles. Railway networks have the lowest density (in terms of route), so they tend to get higher importance (so that railway stations get a priority over bus stations for example, which themselves have a higher importance than all the amenities and shops around these stations); essential administrative public services open to the public (such as townhalls, police stations, hospitals, universities) also have higher importance than any other amenities (including elementary, primary and secondary schools with a more restricted public and more local scope than universities) or services or commercial organizations, due to the territorial extent of their service.
The relative importance of cities/towns/villages/hamlets is also determined by their place status, otherwise their status as a capital of an administrative entity with a known admin_level, otherwise according to their population. For administrative areas, the admin_level also plays a role before their surface or capital node (unlss this capital is also the capital of another areas with lower admin_level); then comes the relative surface, and finally the population figure tagged that area. — Verdy_p (talk) 22:56, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

I support idea of importance key. Numerous times I found out in dead end as I was unable to make distinction for important object on the ground.

I wild just add suggestion to expand list of importance statuses for 'rural' as opposite of 'urban' as some objects may have different importance depending if they are located in city or in mountains, for example.

-- Pedja 15:16, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Status of the proposal

I'm sometimes lost because many things look the same in the map, but some are more important than others. So I really like the idea of an importance key. But what is the current proposal? The page title is "Proposed Features/Importance", but the proposal is about "Network"?!? For "network" values like international, national, etc. make sense, but "importance" needs a value that expresses a relation, e.g. a number (-5...5) or words like "important/standard/unimportant". E.g. a river that crosses a border is international, but that doesn't mean it is important. --holgermappt 10:56, 7 August 2010 (BST)

Importance is always relative to some use case (maps for different users: car transport, pedestrians, natural habitats, ...) or within a feature category. While such values might reasonably exist for any given use, they must be defined individually for each feature type. Alv 12:34, 7 August 2010 (BST)


This is one of the most important tags that OSM doesn't have. There are hundreds of things that I deal with that I know should and shouldn't be prominently featured at lower zoom levels, but there is no way to tell the renderer what to do. As mappers, it is our job to record the information about something, and it's relative importance to other things. Without a way to tag importance, we cannot show the user the proper tags.

A local example I can think of is Mt Akagi. It is a very prominent volcano in Japan. It is the namesake for hundreds of things, and a common sight for millions of people. It is visible for over 100 miles away into Tokyo.

However, because it is a caldera volcano, it has 3-4 tiny little peaks on the top, and like all other caldera volcanos in Japan, those are named separately. So with a general "Mt Akagi" tag as a volcano, the 4 get lumped together, and even though the volcano is 15 miles across, it's little tiny peaks (only a few hundred feet tall) are all crowded around it's name, drowning it out. they need to have a lower (negative?) importance rating. The Mt Akagi tag needs to have a much higher importance value, visible with region names and other large political features at low zoom levels. Mt Fuji should have an importance similar to a country name (like Mt Everest).

If the importance tag is a number, then a value +4 or a -4 would move it up or down relative to the standard baseline rendering for the object = a +4 on Mt akagi would move it up 4 zoom levels, while a -4 on the peaks would hide their markers and names until you zoomed in on the mountain top itself - the way it should be.

Javbw (talk) 03:23, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

Status Abandoned

I would like to change the status of the proposal to "abandoned" since there was no edit on main page since 2009. There is some discussion here but i don't see it leading somewhere.

Taginfo shows some use, but most is importance=main.

-- This comment was initially posted without signature by Jojo4u, at 19:47‎, 5 February 2015 (UTC).

useful proposal

I like the proposal, and would like to use it.

Actually, there is also a quite useful criteria for determining "importance" for things like beaches, playgrounds, cathedrals, shops etc: From how large area would a "normal citizen" (that's subjective of course) travel to this facility specifically (ie, not when you happen to be there already)? A cathedral or museum could easy be on a national level, some perhaps international. The more famous theme parks would perhaps be national, many regional. Larger playgrounds suburban, smaller local. All of this is of course still subjective, but it would add a degree of operationalization to the process of determining importance, or, more physically, "catchment area".

It could of course also mean that the importance is for the cluster of shops, beaches etc. Perhaps this could be used together with site tags, and renderers that could actually intelligently summarize POI:s (like, showing a set of symbols "supermarket","bike repair","café","camp site" below a town name on lower zoom settings where facilities would else overlap). -- This comment was initially posted without signature by Pereric, at 14:26, 30 March 2016 (UTC).