Challenging the Winter Dip, from Australia to Uganda

The first edition of the Global Complete the Map challenge has drawn to an end with remarkable results despite the hardships of the winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Here’s a recap of what was achieved and what’s planned next.

The first edition of the Global #CompletetheMap challenge has drawn to an end with remarkable results despite the hardships of the winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Here’s a recap of what was achieved and what’s planned next.

Global #CompletetheMap results

Mapillary is relatively unique as an online community, being significantly affected by seasons. 90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere, and a similar ratio is evident in our contributor base. As a consequence, Northern Hemisphere winter is traditionally a time when we see a significant drop in the number of images contributed.

As the days get shorter and the temperature drops below zero, it’s understandable that people are reluctant or often unable to take photos. The Mapillary team and I experienced this first hand earlier this month when a short walk around Mölle left our hands frozen and our phone batteries depleted.

The winter effect was top of mind when autumn rolled around last year. We decided to come up with a fun way to keep people engaged during the darker months. At the same time, we wanted to make sure those in the Southern Hemisphere were making the most of their glorious weather.

#CompletetheMap Global thus emerged as a way for people in different countries to participate in one challenge with uniform characteristics. Each participant was able to nominate a starting location, which would become the center of a 50 km2 grid. We developed a scoring system to balance the number of images contributed with new km of coverage. We also factored in the number of participants in each locality to encourage collaboration between communities rather than solo efforts.

Who took part?

42 locations in 28 countries requested to take part in the challenge. 22 of those countries went ahead and contributed images during the challenge period. The locations that managed to motivate their local community to take part were the most successful. Brisbane, San José, Izmir, and Milan all excelled in this regard. See all the results on the global leaderboard.

Another point worth mentioning is that many of the countries in the top 10 are new to the leaderboards. Australia, Costa Rica, Hungary, Kuwait, and Bangladesh were refreshing additions to what we consider active mapping countries. If this is an ongoing trend, countries in Europe and North America will have some healthy competition.

There are two considerations for the success of a #CompletetheMap challenge. The first is level of activity within the challenge area. This is tracked in each of the city leaderboards you can view.

The second is the level of activity in surrounding areas. Not everyone lives and works within the challenge grid, so many will capture imagery around it as they make their way to the zone they’re aiming to map. This is evident in Brisbane and Dhaka, with contributors travelling between zones and covering many areas outside the target grid.

Here are the global results showing this effect.

Challenge area Including surrounding areas
Images 250,000 591,000
UKM 850 4,500

And here is the breakdown showing the unique kilometres contributed by each country in the challenge areas and surroundings. Portugal, Kuwait, and Australia make up the top 3, with people in those locations embarking on relatively long drives on roads that did not have existing coverage.

Unique km contributed by country

The results are interesting, but so are the people behind them. Here are some of the stories from the challenge that we’d like to highlight.


Brisbane, Australia, finished the challenge sitting atop of the table. The ultimate individual winner of the challenge was David Dean, the driving force behind the Brisbane effort. He put together a meetup at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and successfully introduced new people to photo mapping and OpenStreetMap editing. The Central Business District and Queensland’s University of Technology are both extensively mapped now.

Driving by 1 William St, Brisbane’s tallest skyscraper. Image by hoylen.

Brisbane #CompletetheMap coverage

New coverage in Brisbane during the Global #CompletetheMap challenge


Izmir was one of the locations that had largely been unmapped prior to the Global challenge. The location was proposed by Said Türksever, who is a Master’s student in Geoinformatics Engineering at Politecnico di Milano. As the Vice President of YouthSeason, he was leading a mapping initiative in December which could be tied into the challenge.

The project was focused on mapping accessibility in the old part of Izmir. Students in the Erasmus network from across Europe were invited to participate, using bikes and their smartphones to collect imagery. Colin Broderick was kind enough to take time from work and flew in from Belgium to share his own experiences. He was able to provide insight into the MapLesotho project while demonstrating to students how they can derive map data from their imagery. The map below shows some of the locations they contributed wheelchair accessibility data for.

Izmir #CompletetheMap

Clockwise from left: students mounting their phones to the bicycles; students lined up and ready to capture the streets of Izmir; Colin Broderick presenting his MapLesotho experience

Wheelchair access mapping in Izmir

Buildings with wheelchair access tags in downtown Izmir


Bangladesh put together an amazing country-wide effort, nominating multiple locations in Dhaka as well as locations further afield, such as Nilfamari Sadar and Jahangirnagar University. One of the exciting things about the efforts in Bangladesh is how diverse the contributing community is. Students, professors, individual mappers, and companies like Pathao have all been working together to create a better map of the country.

Altogether, 16 people took part in the challenge, navigating Dhaka traffic on foot, rickshaw, and by car. Three people deserve special mention for their efforts in building this fantastic community of mappers: Md.Atikuzzaman Limon, Ahasanul Hoque, and Tasauf A Baki Billah We expect them to take Bangladesh from strength to strength in 2018.

Sequence captured in Dhaka by one of the challenge’s top contributors, infolimon

Mapillary Bangladesh meetup

Attendees at the Bangladesh Mapillary meetup hosted by Eastern University

Dhaka #CompletetheMap coverage

New coverage in Dhaka during the Global #CompletetheMap challenge

Tell us what you really think

Many lamented the fact they couldn’t participate in the challenge due to cold weather and the lack of daylight. We intend to make Global #CompletetheMap a regular fixture on the Mapillary calendar at different times of the year. Your feedback is thus greatly appreciated.

Global CompletetheMap Spring

The next Global #CompletetheMap challenge is on its way. This one will be more accessible for those in the Northern Hemisphere as we aim to run it sometime during Northern Hemisphere spring, i.e. Southern Hemisphere autumn. Register your interest here to stay in the loop for the next challenge!


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