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Layer 1: Urban context

1.1. Boundaries

You should have a good understanding of how administrative boundaries are defined within your city. That generally means that you should find out how your country is subdivided. Countries are often subdivided into provinces, states, or departments, which can then be broken down even further. Cities are often a specific administrative entities that form part of a bigger set. We encourage you to locate the national subdivisions first, and to try and locate the shapefiles of each of the administrative levels within the country. Loading the boundaries for all subdivisions within your country will make it much easier to aggregate up or scale down national data in the system. If you are unsure what the official subdivision in your country is and which entity manages these boundaries, we suggest you look at Wikipedia, where "Administrative divisions in COUNTRYNAME" often yields good results. See an example here.

Before you start looking for this, check to make sure we don't already have data for your country. See the existing subdivisions here.

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Discussion and questions


There is an error, where I'm wondering if that is really a shapefile issue or one from our site. I'm wondering because of the error message and because the shape displays just fine on mapshaper.org.
It concerns this file: https://cityloops.metabolismofcities.org/library/829097/?create_shapefile_plot=true, (also for the same one in the library) and I've also observed it for others, e.g. this one, which has in the meantime been deleted.
Paul, could you please confirm one way or the other what the problem is? If you have any idea how this can be resolved in case it is a shp issue, please let us know too. Thanks.


The way it looks on mapshaper.


At first sight it seems to be a problem with the preview generator software, not with the shapefile. I would need to dive deeper into this though. But if it shows properly in mapshaper, we can assume the shapefile is fine.


Ok, thanks a lot Paul! This already helps us for now :)

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