Outputting town names

Hi all, A first-time user here, so I may be asking a very simple-minded question. I am interested in exporting records (all from the U.S.) and attaching the name of a town to each record where possible. I see a place_guess field which sometimes includes town names, but not always. Is there an option to have the export include town names generated from the locations in the lat/long fields? Many thanks.

1 Like

in the US, some states divide their counties into townships, and in those states, iNaturalist has standard “town” places defined in the system, which would allow you to return / export town for each observation in these states. however, this is not available for every state, and it is not available outside of the USA.

pisum, Thanks for your response. At the moment, I am interested in Massachusetts. If this is one of the states that includes defined town places, how would I specify that in output? I tried town place name, but I have never been successful in exporting records with this box checked.

this is generally the right way to do it, but it looks like Massachusetts doesn’t have standard towns consistently defined in the system. i would have expected the town places to be defined correctly in the system, since Massachusetts is one of the states with minor civil divisions, but i don’t know what would have gone wrong back in the day when they were creating these places, and i doubt that staff would work on fixing these any time soon.

so then you’d have get town names outside the system by downloading the observations you’re interested in and then attaching a town to them, based on set of town-level polygons, using some sort of GIS tool (although it won’t work right for obscured observations). if you’re interested in going down that path, i can provide more information.

if you have access to a reverse geocoding service, that might also be a way to get town, but you’d likely only want to do this for a relatively small set of observations.

1 Like

Thanks pisum. Glad to know that it is not just my inexperience with the system. I suspect you are correct that I will need to download the lat/longs and associate with town polygons using GIS software. I was hoping to avoid that step but once I get it figured out it may not be that time consuming. Thanks for your help.