How do I add suburb or district names where they are missing


Many suburbs and areas in my neighbourhood don’t have their names on OSM. They do appear on google map and obviously other maps as well.

How do I go about adding these names to the relevant suburbs or areas? Is there a process whereby I can add them myself or is there some other way that the community utilises, to add this missing information?

Hi there Charlesapp,

You can add the suburbs based on local knowledge to OSM by adding place nodes at the approximate center of the community. OSM has a variety of place tags that may be applicable here. The most obvious ones to try out are:

Here’s a little walktrough on how to add those points.


@Charlessapp, the walkthrough @ElliottPlack points you to is excellent.

There are some issues which are potentially confusing to iron out so you fully understand them, especially true in the United States, where the common US English usage of the word “suburb” conflicts somewhat with how OSM uses place=suburb.

I speak US English, and the word “suburb” to me usually means a smaller (incorporated) city near or bordering an edge of a much larger “major” city. In OSM, these (US English) “suburbs” shouldn’t be tagged place=suburb, they should be tagged place=city (or place=town if they are under 50,000 population). And in OSM, the tag place=suburb should only be used for specific areas within a larger city, not a separate city distinct from it. Same for place=neighbourhood and place=quarter: these are used for areas within a larger conurbation.

Both our Key:place - OpenStreetMap Wiki and United States/Tags - OpenStreetMap Wiki can help guide you, where, if you are in the US, the latter requires your careful attention.

And if something is a “Census Designated Place” (CDP, as defined by the US Census Bureau), these shouldn’t be tagged with boundary=administrative, they should be tagged with boundary=census (and a place=* node with value town, village or hamlet, for example).

Finally, do be aware that cities, as incorporated municipalities, always have distinct boundaries, and so should be mapped as a (multi)polygon. “Suburbs” or “districts” as you call them, likely are not that, and so are better mapped as a node in many circumstances, although if there really are hard-and-fast boundaries of a “district,” it is OK to map them as a polygon: just make sure you carefully hew to the tagging of place=* as carefully as those two wikis document you should.

Thanks for “better mapping” in OSM!

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Hi @Charlessapp and welcome to the forum as well as to OSM in general. Your question should be well answered by the excellent guide of @ElliottPlack and the comments of @stevea, so just go ahead and when you settled the suburbs of Jo’burg don’t stop, there are lots of other mapping tasks waiting in your area …

If your normal place of work is SA it would also be a good idea to say hello to the SA community which you will find here. Have fun …

(… and don’t forget to click the “Solution” button under the post which answered your question …)

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Thanks everyone for the advice.

Have used the polygon method with the tags, pretty straight forward. But dragging the polygon points on a small pc screen can be a challenge {:slight_smile: