Five Years of Mapillary—From the First Image to a Global Platform

This week marks five years since we started this little “project” of ours. It seemed controversial at first but now, five years later, it’s become a completely normal and sane thing. Time for a short reflection on this half-decade.

world-coverage Mapillary coverage as of October, 2018. 375+ million images and more than five million kilometers mapped—still a lot of unmapped roads, bike lanes, and hiking trails to turn green!

Images from anyone, anywhere
Starting out, the idea was to bring scalability to image collection for map making. Any device, anyone, anywhere, for better maps everywhere, was our mantra and still is today. The first image ever uploaded was taken by me on October 8, 2013, with a prototype app—that’s now five years ago. Our official launch was a few months after that, and since that day we have grown at an accelerating rate and Mapillary now has over 375 million images on the platform. This summer we passed five million kilometers mapped and Mapillary has become an important dataset for fixing maps on both local and global levels.

Making images and map data available
Another idea, still core to Mapillary today, was to make the images available to everyone. You can browse all the 375+ million images on our website or in any of the many third-party integrations. There’s an open data license, and a clear standard commercial license, available to everyone.

Extracting data
It is no coincidence that the four co-founders of Mapillary consist of two experts in scalable backend solutions and two computer vision PhDs. From the start, we wanted to bring scalability to map data extraction from images using computer vision. This saves lots of manual work and generates data faster and at a scale not possible by any workforce. Today, we have over 30 billion map features, fully machine generated with computer vision. These are available on our website and in many integrations, and help build better maps everywhere.

Working together for better maps everywhere
We have written about our collaborative model many times on this blog and it is another core theme of Mapillary. We combine images from individuals, activist groups, cities, counties, countries, customers, and partners. All in one common image representation, connected in 3D. At a global level, working together is the only scalable way to map the world. At a local level, collaboration means that citizens, cities, and all companies and organizations acting in that area can benefit from each other's activities.

These core pillars of images from anyone, making them available, extracting data with computer vision, and working together in a collaborative model are key to the amazing platform we have today.

Thank you!
We would not be where we are today without our amazing team (join us!), our community, our partners, our investors, and all our friends out there cheering for us. Thank you for being a part of the journey and the Mapillary community.

Let’s continue building the impossible together!

team-pic The Mapillary team, September 2018

/Jan Erik
On behalf of the entire Mapillary team

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