WikiProject Uganda/Conventions

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Conventions (overview page)
This page is localised for Uganda - UG
Status: Draft (under way)
Proposed by: Bert Araali
Applies to: Osm logo wiki.png
Definition: Overview page for UG conventions and guidelines.
Drafted on: 6 Jul 2017
RFC start: 27 feb 2021
Voting members: talk-ug+Core Members

Introduction and Justification

The user base and state of the map in Uganda is growing therefore we need to start coordinating.
All conventions, the way we map, tag and assign values to keys, are defined globally and coordinated in OSM. Differences exist in the details across different countries and projects. These differences are applied by the community as maps in a particular country become more detailed, or specific applications occur, which could be specific to a certain application, region or country.
Like with many other countries, this also is the case for Uganda.

This page, Wikiproject Uganda/Conventions, describes the strategies and conventions on mapping and tagging commonly applied within Uganda. We have also a discussion page where you are free to leave any comments, requests or start a discussion:Talk page.
Please go to the discussion page and give your opinion !

The descriptions also include tutorials, examples and instructions with tips & tricks to get you going. To help you in safeguarding the quality of the maps we list common validation messages (errors and warnings) and how to solve them. To keep the length of the pages limited and allow for easier referencing, they are divided into different applications or themes.

Every page follows a common layout (not defined as a template). If you like to create a new convention page just start with a copy of an existing one, then change or add you specific content. Do provide the necessary categories so your new convention page is referenced correctly and can be found and used by others.
All additions and editing in OSM, including the wiki pages is free and we strongly encourage you to do so. However we kindly request to keep it organised with clear unified layouts and accept others to edit your work to improve it. Good etiquette includes contacting an author before you delete something. Keep in mind that although you disagree with a described method or don't see the use of it, it doesn't mean it matters and is used by others. Be polite and inform yourself, respect the effort many people have taken to create the pages.

Mapping strategies

Globally in OSM, therefore also in Flag of Uganda.svg Uganda, different strategies are used for mapping. The strategies differ in the level of detail, applied both on the data and tagging (OSM primary purpose and use) and rendering of the map. Some renderings are provided by OSM, however don't tag or map to force rendering in these engines. Many features, especially details, are not rendered in OSM and require specific rendering engines developed or applied by the user.

The below mentioned strategies are just summarized guidelines. See the individual convention pages listed below for detailed guidelines on the mapping and tagging of each of these strategies.
On every convention page we describe the mapping approach, give examples and links to tutorials. They are listed specifically in regard to the described mapping strategies.

To make this clear every mapping strategy is represented by it's own icon, which should ease referencing the documentation:

  • general for the General Mapping strategy;
  • detailed for the Detailed Mapping strategy;
  • micro for the Micro Mapping strategy;

A higher level of detail strategy by defaults implies that the lower level of detail mapping and tagging is applied.
Example: a tagging scheme marked as micro for Micro Mapping implies that you have already or additionally applied the mapping and tagging guidelines listed for the detailed Detailed Mapping and general for General Mapping strategies described and marked on the same convention page.

Additional information may be provided on the convention pages and marked as follows:

  • tutorial marked with the icon
  • tips & tricks marked with the icon
    Tips & Tricks;
  • quality through validation and how to solve errors and warnings marked with the icon

General mapping

Strategy description

Typically only large and general features are applied and buildings. For administrative support country, region and district boundaries are included. Specific mapping and tagging guidelines can be found on the convention pages marked with the icon: general.

Understanding the basics of OSM and basic mapping and tagging principles is essential to understand the strategy and the convention pages. It is strongly advised to first read and understand the OSM beginners guide: Beginners Guide on the Osm logo wiki.png OSM wiki and/or Beginners Guide on LearnOSM.

It is the strategy you follow to start as a beginner mapper or map in an area where nothing or very has been mapped in the past as an advanced mapper.

Use cases and application support

The data provided is sufficient for general routing to a place on street level and/or identification of major features.

Rendered in OSM in zoom levels 0 to 14. User specific rendering from country to individual district level.

Example renderings
Zoom level Example rendering Description

Loading map...

Lowest zoom levels. Only the continents and oceans as details with the names of the largest countries and borders of countries. Not applicable for use in Uganda.

Loading map...

Major water bodies and rivers, natural features and district boundaries including major places (cities and towns) become visible.

Loading map...

Major roads, more major natural features (mountain peaks, large forests and wetlands, forest reserves) and airfields become visible.

Loading map...

More roads (up to residential), places like villages and large landuse is visible.

Building footprints are used to estimate population densities and population coverage within certain areas, f.i. hazard zones. Aimed on supporting humanitarian purposes and responses to disasters.

Lakes, rivers and streams, wetlands are often used as basic data layers for hydrology studies.


  • Administrative applications are supported up to the district level;
  • Counties, sub-counties, municipalities and wards, cities and zones, parishes and villages are mapped as nodes only;
  • Major refugee camps boundaries are mapped;
  • Additional boundaries are provided for large environmental purposes like national parks and Central (not Local) forest reserves.

POI's (Points Of Iinterest) are typically limited to the essential community services:

  • major government offices up to district headquarters;
  • police stations and military bases;
  • official health services (hospitals and health centres);
  • education institutions, both private and government operated;
  • central markets and trading centres.

Public transport:

  • railways;
  • international airfields;
  • central bus and taxi parks.

The focus is not on routing public transport routes or individual stop positions and boda boda (taxi) stages.

There is no focus on mapping utilities of any kind like piped water, power transmission and distribution lines, sewage and sewage treatment, telecommunication towers and coverage.

Landuse is generalised in large areas focusing on:

  • forests, especially those in the protected areas;
  • residential areas, in this strategy, with the exception of markets, commercial areas are not distinguished since in Uganda they are mostly largely distributed and scattered in the residential areas;
  • designated industrial areas;
  • agriculture zones and schemes.

exclamation mark

Disclaimer of liability: While great care is often taken adding information to OpenStreetMap, the information should not be used for purposes where errors or omissions could lead to damage, injury, or loss of life.


See Uganda OSM Guidelines & Training Workgroup - Categories.
Or Ugandan Proposed features.

Detail mapping

Extends the map with more detail and add tags on top of the General mapping strategy. Typically most of the details that can be retrieved from satellite imagery or public data sources available on the internet. The data provided is sufficient for detailed routing (up to building level) and/or identification of major features. Rendered in OSM in zoom levels 0 to 12.

    • Highways (Roads):
      • minor roads like tracks, path and service roads (mostly driveways) are mapped as way ways;
      • individual nodes on the highway are added like gates, pedestrian crossings, traffic calming measures like bumps, traffic signs etc...
      • additional keys are added to the highway, most importantly it's reference number, it's surface, it's smoothness, it's width etc...
      • the highway way way is divided in separate sections to specify bridges, lanes, side-walks etc...
      • additional features are mapped separately, related to the highway. Primarily this concerns drains and ditches along and crossing (culverts) the highway.
      • for advanced mappers relations are created for highways that were divided in sections.
    • Buildings:
      • building types are further detailed (building=yes replaced by residential, commercial hotel etc...)
      • building levels are added with the key building:levels;
      • major features related to the building are added like parking spaces, storage tanks, trees, hedges, walls, gates ...
    • Land-use:
      • the land-use area areas are mapped in more detail, generally on a block level (no highways included) or plot level;
  • Micro mapping: extends the map with more features and added keys on top of the Detail mapping strategy to achieve a maximum level of detail as supported by OSM. For this type of mapping typically street level imagery or field surveys are required:
    • Highways (Roads):
      • individual nodes on the highway to map details, like kerbs, identification of crossings, junctions etc...
      • additional keys are added to the highway, f.i. it's smoothness, it's width etc...
      • additional features, initially identified through keys on the highway, are mapped separately. Primarily this splitting ways for motorways and trunk roads. Drawing the sidewalks separately...
      • additional detail features are mapped separately, related to the highway. Examples are the location and appearance of advertisement, street name signs, milestones, street lamps ...
    • Buildings:
    • Land-use:
      • all land-use is mapped on plot level;
    • Utilities
      • Power poles, lines and cables are mapped and tagged;
      • Fuel stations, cooking fuel sources are mapped;
      • potable water pipelines, storage tanks;
      • sewage network is mapped with manholes, underground piping etc...

Convention pages

A note on Administrative Levels in Uganda, relating to Refugee and Non-Refugee comparisons.

In large refugee settlements, there are admin levels which have some conflicting tags, for instance a village has become the term at admin level 4 which signifies a whole area of settlement, around what was initially one village, but has now become a huge camp with sometimes hundreds of thousands of people. In Uganda, villages all have related borders, so in rural areas you cannot be 'outside of a village'  (you would be in the next village if you crossed the 'border' as it were).

So they can be huge in terms of population. If they are designated a 'Refugee Community' (RC) Settlement, they then get divided into Zones, sometimes Points, Blocks and sometimes 'Tanks' (N.G.O. Water Tanks) - although there is an instance right now(27/12/2017) where the tanks are being taken away, as the water provision becomes piped. Awaiting community feedback on what convention the community will adopt.

Anyway, this differs completely from the national system, (Local Council/LC), where admin levels run: 'District, (County), Subcounty, Parish, Village'. HOT-Uganda survey both, and have a divide in their survey, with a different set of questions/name choice tags which are evolving as work continues.

N.B. Even within these North Uganda settlements, addressing within the settlements changes from one settlement to the next, sometimes even when settlements are neighbouring.