This article is regarding mapping the administrative regions in Pakistan at Google Map Maker and their importance in addressing a feature’s location.

One of the most important topics for mapping an area is related to administrative regions. Mappers at Google Map Maker have been found with a common misunderstanding of the basic structure and linkages between administrative areas of country. Therefore, in attempt to highlight their mapping area of interest on map, they tend to add additional information in titles for features. Moderators usually point such things out during the moderation process but we still see it happening at different levels. Following is the one of the example found in Hunza-Nagar district, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.

Before we try to point out the reasons which makes this example a wrong addition, let’s have an idea how Pakistan administrative regions work on ground. Following is the fundamental scheme derived from basic addressing structure of Pakistan Post Office Department.

Country > Province/State > Division > District > Tehsil > City/Town/Village > Locality > Sub-Locality + Postal Code

However, to use this scheme in Google Map Maker, we are bond with following scheme where a Tehsil is categorized by “Minor Civil Division” but still both Divisions and Tehsils are excluded from list of visibility in address structure.

Country > Province/State > District > Minor Civil Division > City/Town/Village > Locality > Sub-Locality + Postal Code

All categories are present in Google Map Maker with similar titles. However to map a Tehsil region, it has been recommended to use “Minor Civil Division” category. Unfortunately, this category doesn’t render either on map or in address generated in result of above mentioned waterfall scheme. A request is already in place to make this administrative category visible on map & inherited by generated address. You can see its current status and vote for this at Issue Tracker.

Let us have a look at the following example.

In above example, users have been including the Tehsils name (Nagar) with most of features especially with “City/Town/Village” category which has resulted in wrong official/preferred names of towns/villages. It is recommended that since list of districts already marks the administrative level available for outcome address so adding Tehsil level administrative region with town name will invalidate the official status of neighbourhood’s name. However, Tehsil Nagar can still be added as administrative region using polygon tool under the category of Minor Civil Division which however will not make a visual impact at the moment but in future when this requested issue will be replaced with a solution then it will be part of the addresses.

To understand this administrative chain in detail, we can divide this scheme into 2 groups depending on administrative level of an added feature.

Following three examples shows the different status of this grouping between administrative regions.

As shown in above example, top-level features such as “City/Town/Village” are not supposed to hold their lower level information so the Sub-Locality, Locality are unavailable. Because this feature itself is part of “City/Town/Village” category hence, the City field under Location Info is also unavailable for such a feature. Such an example would also apply for District, State and Country level categories.

In this above example, a School feature is added just outside of “City/Town/Village” level administrative region of Malam Jabba, which resulted in disabling the first level group of Location Info stating that no administrative region has been defined to incur this feature into their boundaries. However, District level shows the list of available districts for this feature since this drawn feature still inside the boundary of district. In above example, two of the districts are available to choose. It only happens when editing is being done near to the boundary of the district. This option applies to all fields in “Location Info” except Post code.

In this example, a hotel feature is added inside the city of Malam Jabba. Since this feature comes inside a “City/Town/Village” level administrative region, the City information is available while leaving the Locality and Sub-Locality fields disabled due to undefined administrative areas at this particular place. This example would apply to all fields in “Location Info” in case on any unavailable top-level areas.

In this above example, a hotel feature is added in Karachi city. The example returns with a complete “Location Info” since all of the administrative regions were drawn and named which also completes the addressing for this feature except the Post code which has to be entered manually for each added feature.

With current version of Map Maker, an ideal mapping starts with top level administrative region and then coming to the lowest level categories and avoiding the repeat of any administrative name into a feature’s title. There has been cases when changing the priority of adding these level resulted in non-inheritable address information. However, suggestions has been passed through “Issue Tracker” for inheritance of administrative regions by any feature being independent of their priority of addition.

Following screenshot shows comprehensive address information with all completed administrative regions, in scheme from plot address to higher levels which also describes the outcome address is actually the contrast to the method of mapping the administrative regions a suggested above.

From examples of Map Maker data usage by domestic & international relief organisations and Pakistan Army during 2010 floods in Pakistan, wrong information can lead to adversity in helping out people stuck in such an emergency situation.

Note: Division category have kept vanishing in past years due to different policies used by different governments.

Article at Wikipedia and reference maps from Ministry of Foreign Affairs also provide the brief introduction to administrative regions of Pakistan. A more detailed and dynamic map of Administrative boundaries can be seen at Local Pakistan under category of Nationwide GIS Data.

All images and screenshots copyrighted to and taken from Google Map Maker.

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