City as a place

I am part of a volunteer team that is going to update our city’s Natural Resources Inventory (NRI). We have created a project to collect data during the next two years, and we will be holding some mini bioblitzes to help with data collection and engage the public. Several years ago I created a project (Meriden Biodiversity Project) specific to my city, and now I am unable to find this as a place (Meriden, CT).

So my understanding is that 1) a city is not automatically a place that we can use to specify the boundary of our project, 2) Meriden does not currently exist as a place in iNat, and 3) I need to create something called a KML file to create my place?

I do not want to create a duplicate place, but Meriden doesn’t come up when I try to edit the place in the project.

I’m sorry if this is redundant. I really did search and am trying to understand. I may be suffering from tired kindergarten teacher brain.

Thank you for any help or direction you can provide.

5 Likes

You could try looking at an observation that is definitely inside the place you are looking for (scroll around on the explore map and find one). Then go to the observation view of that observation, and under the map click on “details” :

I usually find a suitable place in that curated places list…

There is no place in iNat curated places called “Meriden”. In the example above, the “Hanover Pond, Meriden, CT, USA” likely came from google maps as a place descriptor when you searched for the place, or just as the google maps nearest place to the pin location entered (or pin location picked up from photo GPS).

The project that you previously created didn’t actually enforce a rule that the observations had to be within the city limits of Meriden. If you’d like to require that the observations come from within the city limits, you’ll have to upload a boundary file.

3 Likes

the city itself seems to want you to fill out a disclaimer form before they will e-mail you the city boundaries. that seems unnecessarily complicated.

you can get the city boundaries from the Census, too, though you have to pull out the specific polygon for the city yourself.

i went ahead and did that, and below is the text that comprises the KML. copy the text, paste it into a plain text editor (like Notepad, if you’re using Windows), and save the file with a .KML extension. then go to create a place in iNaturalist, and load the KML file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<kml xmlns="http://www.opengis.net/kml/2.2">
<Document id="root_doc">
<Schema name="Meriden" id="Meriden">
	<SimpleField name="STATEFP" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="PLACEFP" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="PLACENS" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="GEOID" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="NAMELSAD" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="LSAD" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="CLASSFP" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="PCICBSA" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="PCINECTA" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="MTFCC" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="FUNCSTAT" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="ALAND" type="float"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="AWATER" type="float"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="INTPTLAT" type="string"></SimpleField>
	<SimpleField name="INTPTLON" type="string"></SimpleField>
</Schema>
<Folder><name>Meriden</name>
  <Placemark>
	<name>Meriden</name>
	<Style><LineStyle><color>ff0000ff</color></LineStyle><PolyStyle><fill>0</fill></PolyStyle></Style>
	<ExtendedData><SchemaData schemaUrl="#Meriden">
		<SimpleData name="STATEFP">09</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="PLACEFP">46450</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="PLACENS">02378280</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="GEOID">0946450</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="NAMELSAD">Meriden city</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="LSAD">25</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="CLASSFP">C1</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="PCICBSA">N</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="PCINECTA">N</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="MTFCC">G4110</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="FUNCSTAT">A</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="ALAND">61466952</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="AWATER">940444</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="INTPTLAT">+41.5367771</SimpleData>
		<SimpleData name="INTPTLON">-072.7945433</SimpleData>
	</SchemaData></ExtendedData>
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  </Placemark>
</Folder>
</Document></kml>
3 Likes

can I suggest changing the place name from Meriden, to “Meriden, CT, USA”? There could well be other places around the world named Meriden. Or does the KML not determine the place name in iNat? I might be confused…

you (not the KML) determine the name when you set up the place. if i remember correctly, it’ll add CT, USA automatically if you make Connecticut the parent place… but then you can also override the display name… or something like that.

2 Likes

Yeah, just tested it… you name it when first starting to create the place, and then use the uploaded KML to set the boudaries. Are all the other KML fields in your example uploaded and used as well? The AWATER and CLASSFP etc? Or are they just fields pulled from the source that will be ignored by iNat?

iNat should ignore everything but the geometry (boundary) data. some of those other fields are defined by the Census Bureau, and some of those fields are part of the standard geospatial data structure, i think. they’re useful if you’re doing queries (for example to pull out the specific Meriden feature out of the whole set of Connecticut places), but they don’t actually do anything in terms of defining boundaries. (i could have stripped them out, but that would have been extra work for me.)

1 Like

Thank you so much!! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that you took the time to do that. It would’ve taken me hours of struggle to try to figure it out.

Now I have a follow-up question. I created the place of Meriden under the parent of CT. You can see the place appear on a map on the project page. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/meriden-nri

However, the project isn’t pulling in any observations, either from project members or any observations (I tried both settings). I even went back to an observation I uploaded this morning and made sure the location was specifically added as Meriden rather than relying on my phone’s location data.

I’m wondering if I missed a step somewhere?

1 Like

2 possibilities.

Right now your project only has 4 members, and you have set a rule to only include records from people who join the project, So while there are over 2,000 records on the site , right now you will only get the records from those 4 users

Secondly, when a new place is created, it takes a little time for the database to do all the background work to figure out which of the 70 million plus records on the site fall into that area and need to be marked as such. This process is not immediate upon the creation of a new place, and it can take a little time for it to complete. So this may also still be going on.

Additionally you have a date range filter on your project which excludes records observed before Jan 4th of 2021 which is eliminating 99% of the submitted records for the city from going into your project.

1 Like

I just discovered that I was probably too quick to ask why the observations weren’t appearing, as they are now. I will ask the team if we can open it up to earlier observations or maybe leave out the dates. I didn’t create the project but am becoming more involved in that end of things. Thank you for your help and suggestions. I truly appreciate them.

you’re welcome.

if you or anyone else who comes across this would like to know how to get place boundaries for just about any city in the United States based on Census Bureau place data, let me know, and i can write up a short tutorial. it’s not a difficult process once you know what to do. (it only took me a few minutes from data download to KML. there might even be a faster way to do it via the Census’s CitySDK.)

1 Like

I’d be interested in your process, yes.

see Creating a place for your US city using Census Bureau geography data - Tutorials - iNaturalist Community Forum

i noticed you had an existing (point) place defined for Meriden: https://www.inaturalist.org/places/meriden-32c8294d-1282-47d9-bb0d-896c0d158186 . you may want to delete that place, to avoid confusion with the new place, since the point place probably doesn’t do much at this point.

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