Generic village/town location with Mapping module

I understand that the Mapping module is meant to give a way to provide an exact location with exact coordinates for an item. However, users adding contents to our Omeka S archive have repeatedly asked if there is a suggested way to use the Mapping module with items that refer, e.g., to a given village, but not to a specific location within that village.

The generic location (e.g… the village name) is also provided in a dedicated field, but users feel that there is great added value to having items on a map in terms of discoverability, advanced search, etc.

Ultimately, I agree.

Is there some technical solution to this? I don’t see how, but I’d love to be proved wrong.

If not, is there some widespread or accepted common practice on how to go about this? I’d be tempted to use as a point of reference the place where OpenStreetMap places the village name. This may mess up a bit with items that are actually geo-referenced in that specific point, but this slight confusion seems to be still better than not including geolocation at all for all items which have a meaningful village-level location.

Any suggestion welcome.

My general practice for general place associations (such as "in X village/town) is to go with the geographic or accepted center of the town, which is generally about where OpenStreetMap places the name.

Thanks for your feedback, that’s probably what I will do.

I also considered using the central square or the church (both are basically always present in my use case in Italy, and churches are largely used as points of reference for indicating the altitude of a village), but there are more chances that there are things I actually want to specifically geolocate on a central square (e.g. old pictures) rather than in the central-but-not-so-central location that OpenStreetMap mostly uses as centre.

As for technical solutions, I think it may be useful to have a boolean TRUE/FALSE option in the mapping module itself, to say if the coordinates are “exact” or “approximate”… it wouldn’t overburden the interface, and would make it possible to have the best of both worlds.

I think it may be useful to have a boolean TRUE/FALSE option in the mapping module itself, to say if the coordinates are “exact” or “approximate”

If you’d like, you’re welcome to submit it as an issue on the module.
In the interim, you could use CustomVocab and the Resource Templates to create a property which reads “Location exact: Y/N” or “Location: exact/approximate”

Following up on your suggestion, here is how I approached this. I am quite happy with the result, but of course I welcome suggestions if you feel I may be going off track. I’m sharing this in some details also to facilitate replication if this may be of any use to others.

First, since no DC core property seemed fitting (and also keeping in mind that anyway mapping data is not by default recorded in a DC property), I generated a custom property through the Custom Ontology module.

I then created a custom vocabulary with the Custom Vocab module, with four options:

  • precise location
  • approximate location
  • uncertain location
  • generic/village level location

I then added the property to the relevant resource templates.

This looked all good, but not quite ideal, in particular for those exploring contents through the “map-browse” function, as they would not have an easy way to remove generically geolocated items.

To facilitate showing on the map only items that are precisely geolocated, I added a link just below the map in the “map-browse” page, by editing the Mapping module directly. More specifically, I edited the file modules/Mapping/view/mapping/site/index/browse.phtml, and added after the div with the map (<div id="mapping-map"), something along these lines:

<div><p style="text-align:center;"><a href="map-browse?fulltext_search=&property[0][joiner]=and&property[0][property]=304&property[0][type]=eq&property[0][text]=Precise+location">Click here to see only items which have been precisely geolocated.</a></p></div>

(notice that the property number - 304 - depends on your installation).

If users click on that link, they just see the same interface with the relevant property pre-selected, making it much more intuitive to use.

Of course, I’ll need to remember to add this again each time the Mapping module is updated.

I still feel this may be something that is included in the mapping module itself, but I’ll try to have this set up working for a while and perhaps file an issue once I am more confident that this solution is indeed useful.


Thank you for sharing your process!

1 Like