Mapillary and OpenStreetMap

Approaching this summer’s State of the Map conferences I wanted to take a minute to write some paragraphs on Mapillary, OpenStreetMap, and the bigger picture of collaboratively mapping the world.

From day one, Mapillary has believed that people and organizations working together in the open is the best way to collect, visualize and understand data about our world. Our passion centers on making the tools that make this possible, in particular to visually represent our planet and understand it.

Our commitment to OpenStreetMap

Since the early days of Mapillary we’ve made the commitment to OpenStreetMap that any person has the right to use Mapillary photos for editing and deriving metadata for contributing content to OpenStreetMap. Derived metadata can be published directly to OpenStreetMap under the OpenStreetMap Foundation contributor terms. We’re also making all the data we extract from these photos available.

Our commitment to OpenStreetMap is that we will always be there, for free, under an open license, and with the explicit rights above. We’re also working closely with people and organizations in the OpenStreetMap ecosystem around building better tools for using Mapillary photos and data. The iD and JOSM integrations that show photos and traffic sign data is a great first step. More tools will follow.


Mapillary’s role in the ecosystem

We want to help everyone make better maps. We want to help cities publish open data. We want anyone; drivers, bikers, hikers, to be able to document and share aspects of public space around them. We want to make expensive, tedious tasks in GIS simple and fast. We would love it if our data was used to create a safer traffic environment and develop our cities. We want to help people and organizations get data and understanding that they can act on, using a collective pool of photos and an automated system for extracting data from these photos.

Mapillary is more than a set of tools for photo mapping and editing OpenStreetMap. Our role in the ecosystem is that of a data collection service and a data provider. This data feeds into OpenStreetMap or any of the examples above, then products (maps, navigation, GIS systems, apps, websites) are created using this data.

Collaboration across borders

The core idea behind Mapillary is to combine people and organizations with very diverse motives and backgrounds into one solution and one collective photo repository, sharing in the open and helping each other. This means our awesome community, our partner companies and partner organizations, even our customers. That’s right, we’re incentivizing our customers to share their data into the same pool as everyone else, in the open, with an open license.

One of the most frustrating things about the mapping space is the reluctance of companies to share data across their respective silos. Most are bent on competition instead of collaboration, to the point where even trivial or outdated data points are kept proprietary and closed.

That we don’t have a mapping or navigation product means we can happily partner with any mapping or navigation company without being in competition. We’re neutral, open, and can work with anyone as long as it benefits our long term vision of visually mapping the planet. This means that photos and data from these partnerships will benefit OpenStreetMap too.

One of these partnerships is the integration of Mapillary in Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Being available on ArcGIS means we can help cities, local governments, and GIS teams around the world, and at the same time grow our common photo repository. There is no conflict between being available on one platform and helping OpenStreetMap. Every single platform we integrate with will benefit OpenStreetMap since we have one common photo repository and clear rights for using that data for OpenStreetMap.

We hope to announce many more partnerships in the future to keep growing the range of data sources.

Here’s a concrete example: The city of John’s Creek, GA, has a two person GIS team with limited resources and budget. Using Mapillary and a combination of smartphones and action cameras, they can capture photos and in a fast, simple way solve problems like sign inventory. We’re opening up amazing opportunities for small teams like these, allowing citizens and enthusiasts to participate, while making photos and data available to OpenStreetMap. Find out more here.

We are 100% committed to making our existing OpenStreetMap initiatives even better and finding new ways to collaborate to maximize the use of Mapillary photos and data for OpenStreetMap. We look forward to seeing some of you at State of the Map conferences over the next few months* and are as always open to your ideas and feedback.


/Jan Erik

*) We are sponsoring and participating in SotM US in Seattle, SotM in Brussels, and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Summit 2016. Hope to see you there!

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