The Pokémon GO in-game map was updated with the recent switch to OpenStreetMap (OSM), bringing a new set of roads, parks and other real world features to the game. We often get asked what do various map colors represent and is there any correlation between the map colors and nests / raids, etc.

The dark green areas on the Pokémon GO in-game maps stand for the following areas:

  • park
  • golf course

The only correlation we found is that both dark green areas often contain Pokémon nests.

How OpenStreetMap influences Pokémon GO spawns

In order to explain the role of OSM and how it affects Pokémon GO in more depth, let’s start with some basic OSM knowledge. Each point of interest inside OSM has a tag attached to it, describing what it is and what purpose it serves. These tags are used to render various icons and to provide deeper context on the map.

The Pokémon GO codebase includes references to the following OpenStreetMap tags, which are usually called “land use tags” in the OSM lingo:

BASIN. CANAL. CEMETERY. CINEMA. COLLEGE. COMMERCIAL. COMMON. DAM. DITCH. 
DOCK. DRAIN. FARM. FARMLAND. FARMYARD. FOOTWAY. FOREST. GARDEN. GLACIER. 
GOLF_COURSE. GRASS. HIGHWAY. HOSPITAL. HOTEL. INDUSTRIAL. LAKE. LAND. 
LIBRARY. MAJOR_ROAD. MEADOW. MINOR_ROAD. NATURE_RESERVE. OCEAN.PARK. 
PARKING. PATH. PEDESTRIAN. PITCH. PLACE_OF_WORSHIP. PLAYA. PLAYGROUND. 
QUARRY. RAILWAY. RECREATION_AREA. RESERVOIR. RESIDENTIAL. RETAIL. RIVER. 
RIVERBANK. RUNWAY. SCHOOL. SPORTS_CENTER. STADIUM. STREAM. TAXIWAY. THEATRE. 
UNIVERSITY. URBAN_AREA. WETLAND. WOOD. DEBUG_TILE_OUTLINE. 
DEBUG_TILE_SURFACE. OTHER. ANY.

It is believed that some of these tags are “nesting” tags and that nests can only occur in areas tagged with them:

  • golf course / park
  • farmland / farmyard
  • garden / grass / grassland / meadow
  • pitch / playground / scrub
  • heath / moor / green field
  • orchard / vineyard

This is yet to be investigated and confirmed or denied, but as of the time of this writing, there seems to be a solid correlation between nest placement and how the area is tagged on OSM.

Why are some locations missing from the map?

Areas tagged as military use are not rendered on the Pokémon GO map. This is intentional game design decision made to prevent players from exploring areas that are usually not accessible by general public.

We don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Lol you mean features are MISSING with the switch.

  • Robdebobrob

    I dont mind millitary not rendering. Its dumb cause they are fenced of anyways, but sure.
    I do mind that instead of just using the OSM data, they just smack a “not rendered square” over it that covers it 2 times, thus also covering things next to it. We have half a park, half a city center not rendered because of it.

    • Higher_Ground

      there’s a gym on base (I’ve never been to it) and several people who play over there. I guess they’re all just going blind now 🙂

  • Michal Husak

    There are a few square km missing in Prague center. All near Ministry of defense. But it is a public area with a lot of gyms and pokestops – no access restriction. Local player are totally disappointed.

  • vanslyker

    I noticed a few new driveways into churches and schools now appear on the map but probably 50% of the buildings are now not displaying. So far the map change looks like a downgrade for my area.

  • Kathryn Bjornson

    Many public streets in busy downtown areas in the city of Halifax are now not on the map, and they are not on fenced bases but city streets that have a military affiliation. There are well-used gyms and pokestops in these public streets. It is ridiculous.