How to Start Photomapping - Mapillary 101

Welcome to Mapillary! This post is about what it is and how it works. After finding out the answers to the six questions below, you will be ready to start photo mapping!

1. What is Mapillary?

In short, Mapillary is a photo mapping service that combines together street-level photos taken by anyone into the world’s largest crowdsourced photo map.

The essence of Mapillary, our underlying manifesto, is that street-level photos are for everyone - both to explore and to contribute. Together with our community we aim to create a collaborative photo representation of the whole world. You can join in using only your smartphone, and at the same time there are also other fun ways to contribute.

In any case you do not need to have a specialized car with expensive equipment and specialist know-how to make it all work. You go out and take photos, and we will combine them with those from the rest of our community so it all comes together as an awesome street-level view of the world.

Mapillary photo mapping with your smartphone Anyone, anywhere can take take street-level photos

2. What equipment do I need?

What is great about Mapillary is that most likely you already have the main equipment you need - your smartphone! The next step is to download our app (iOS and Android) and create an account (the latter you can also do on the web).

You can take photos while walking, cycling or driving. For the last two options, we recommend that you use a mount that holds your phone steady while you bike or drive. Make sure the mount leaves space for the camera to protrude so you can take unobstructed photos. The Mapillary team uses some universal mounts that work nicely - if you send us a mount request we'll send you one for free.

Photomapping with a stroller phone mount You can actually map with any vehicle you have at hand

A smartphone is the most accessible, but definitely not the only option for capturing photos. It will also work with action cameras and 360° cameras. You can even upload videos which will then be converted to photos. The main criterion in any case is that there needs to be a matching GPS track, whether recorded with the same or another device.

3. How do I capture?

Start the app, log in (if you already aren't) and go to the camera view. You can choose between a few different modes of capturing. Normally you would use an automatic mode where the app takes photos for you with regular intervals. The apps also have a manual mode where you take each photo yourself.

Mapillary iOS app camera screen Mapillary iOS app camera screen The camera screens in iOS and Android - ready to capture

Next you just start moving and start capturing! With an automatic mode you tap the start button, and in manual mode you tap the button every time you want to take a photo. You can either keep moving (walking, riding, driving) forward, or if on foot then also rotate on spot or circle around an object to get views from all sides. When you're done with a set of photos - a sequence, as we call it - then tap on the stop button.

Check our Help Centre for tips on taking great photos, including visual examples on how to move around.

4. What happens after that?

After hitting the stop button you can take more sequences or go to the review screen to check what you have captured before you upload. If there are photos or even whole sequences that you don't want to upload, you can remove them. Once you're happy with what you see, you can start the upload.

We don't recommend uploading on mobile data as your data plan will get used up quickly. The apps themselves won't try to initiate upload until you've reached a wifi network.

Once uploaded, the photos will be deleted from your phone to clear up space. Now they will be accessible to you and anyone else to explore on Mapillary. Your photos will be connected with other people's to create a truly immersive experience.

Computer vision technology will create smooth, enjoyable transitions between the images (provided that they have enough overlap), as well as figure out where your photos stand in relation to other people's, so you can navigate between different sequences. Also, faces and license plates will be blurred.

Explore around Västra Hamnen (the Western Harbour) in Malmö, the birth city of Mapillary - this is 360 so you can rotate the view by dragging around your mouse while playing the sequence

5. What do I capture?

You can take photos of anything that seems interesting to you. Your walks, hikes, bike rides, road trips; great views, points of interest, etc. etc. Also, you'd be surprised how many things that you may not find particularly spectacular can be very interesting for someone else to explore - so also capture your daily commute, the way to the supermarket, the dead-end alley... Mapillary lets you go and photo map anything, even the most remote and off-the-beaten-track places, where mapping cars could never go.

A few tips: * Respect privacy - avoid private properties, restricted areas, sensitive situations and close-ups of people. * If possible, have the sun behind you and avoid very rainy, dark and foggy days. * Gather together a group of people and have a fun photo mapping event together. (Don't forget to share it with us and get featured on our communication channels!)

6. Why do I capture?

In broader terms, you can be a part of a collaborative project that literally covers the whole world. You can put everything and everyone on the map, and refresh the photos as often as you'd like. That means the power is in your hands and you don't need to wait for someone else to it for you.

More particularly, you can use the photos to share the places, travels and stories that matter to you. Mapillary sequences are more than just taking a single photo of a spot. You may want to let your friends see where you live. Or create a preview of a great running trail. Or document the safety conditions of a bike ride. Or track how a place changes in time. The opportunities are really endless.

Hike with our Ambassador Nuno on the Portuguese island of Madeira

On top of it, the data extracted from the photos helps governments, organisations and companies work smarter. We are particularly happy about how useful the images are for editing OpenStreetMap, the world's largest crowdsourced map. By contributing to Mapillary, you help create data that is a basis for a lot of great initiatives.

So go outside and start photo mapping! If you want to know more about something or need any help then feel free to browse around our Help Center. You are always welcome to get in touch with us with ideas, questions, your stories - write to, or if you should experience any trouble.

Happy mapping!

/Katrin and the Mapillary team

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