Proposed features/Quickly Marking Utility Wires

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Utility Wires
Status: Abandoned (inactive)
Proposed by: brycenesbitt
Tagging: utility_wires=[[Tag:utility_wires={overhead,underground}|{overhead,underground}]]
Applies to: type
Definition: Marking of utility wires for a given street or way.

Drafted on: 2015-03-11
RFC start: 2015-03-17
Public-images-osm logo.svg utility_wires
Osm element key.svg
Fast tagging for areas or roads: are there overhead wires or not? Edit or translate this description.
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasmay be used on relations
Status: proposed


This proposal covers a way to mark that a given areas has underground electric and communication wires. Areas of underground utilities are of interest in earthquake or fire hazard zones, to prospective home-buyers, and for generalized 3D renderings. The most specific tag is used: large areas can be tagged with the prevalent style, and individual streets annotated differently.


Tagging Description
utility_wires=underground Wires are known to run below this street in conduit. Street lights may be present, but wires do run between street light poles.
utility_wires=overhead Wires are visibly strung from pole to pole on this street.
utility_wires=unknown This tag may simply be omitted to indicate unknown.
utility_wires=none Area is not served by electric or communication wires.
utility_wires:count=count Approximate count of wires visible overhead. Count all visible wires regardless of their purpose.


An entire city, unable to afford underground electrics:

  • boundary=administrative (Relation:boundary)
  • name=City of Low Income
  • utility_wires=overhead

Which has one central street without wires:

  • highway=trunk
  • name=Main Street
  • utility_wires=underground

An example tagged street is, within an urban area where all but a few alleys and key corridors have overhead utilities.


Not applicable for this proposal.


A significant downside of this proposal is the potential for duplicate data. If a corridor is marked "underground", but later someone maps the actual underground electric lines, there's a potential for the data to get out of synchronization.

This tagging exists in parallel with the drawing of individual power poles and distribution lines: and nothing stops a user from drawing each individual wire network. However, this tag can get the job done over large areas very quickly.


  • Should this be extended to include street light information? Brycenesbitt (talk) 19:44, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

See Also


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