Launching #map2020 for Improved Navigation in Undermapped Regions

Mapillary and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team are launching a new mapping campaign, #map2020, to solve one of the greatest developmental challenges for low- and middle-income countries: maps and navigation. Here’s how you can take part.

With the ongoing situation of the Covid-19 outbreak in big parts of the world, we are asking #map2020 participants to follow their local governments’ respective guidelines. If you can’t go out and capture imagery due to the current situation, you can still participate in #map2020 by updating and improving OpenStreetMap by using imagery that already exists on Mapillary. The imagery should still be used to improve navigation in your chosen area. For any questions, please reach out to


Access to accurate and updated maps is a cornerstone for countries and societies to be able to run smoothly. Without maps, transporting goods and people efficiently becomes a near-impossible task. That’s why maps and information on navigability play a big role in lifting countries out of poverty. It’s also why Mapillary and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) are teaming up in #map2020, a mapping campaign that sets to improve maps and navigation in low- and middle-income countries.

With #map2020, we invite local mapping teams in low- and middle-income countries to map their communities and challenges related to navigation. By using street-level imagery to edit OpenStreetMap (OSM), we will together make a dent in one of the biggest challenges that undermapped areas face.

Mappers in Ghana capturing street-level imagery to create awareness around poor road conditions Footage from last year’s #map2020, when the local mapping community in Ghana mapped navigation issues across Ghana. This is a road in Kumasi.

Navigation ties closely to how easily people can travel from A to B in a safe, reliable, and efficient way. There are many ways to map this in OSM.

Here are some that come to mind:

  • Enhancing basemap data such as road classification, speed-limits, surface type, and street names to improve routing results
  • Street-lighting to provide a safely lit route for people travelling at night
  • The adequacy and location of sidewalks, footpaths, and crosswalks so that pedestrians can move at a safe distance away from traffic
  • The routes that are typically taken by unofficial transportation such as dalla-dallas, matatus, and jeepneys
  • Wheelchair accessibility as it relates to sidewalks and building entrances

The data contained within the OSM basemap is one of the most significant factors affecting the accuracy of navigation data. Without speed limits and road names, for instance, map users won’t be able to get reliable routing estimates from one location to another. That’s why we’re focusing this year’s #map2020 on navigation issues.

The campaign will run until the end of April, when final project submissions will be reviewed by a committee and the winners announced. Representatives from the most successful projects will be awarded a fully-funded trip to HOT Summit taking place on July 1 and 2 in Cape Town, South Africa, to present their project findings to the international humanitarian mapping community.

HOT Team capturing imagery HOT’s mapping team capturing street-level imagery for improving the map

How to take part

There are many interesting elements to navigation and we’re looking forward to seeing which ones participating projects choose to focus on. We’ve developed the following criteria to ensure participating projects align with the goals of #map2020.

  • You’re mapping in a low- or middle-income country
    All projects need to take place in a low- or middle-income country, as defined by the World Bank. If you’re unsure if the country you want to map qualifies, check here.
  • Your mapping project is looking to improve navigation
    All mapping projects in #map2020 need to address navigation with the goal of improving it.
  • Your mapping team will collect and use street-level imagery to map navigation-related features in OSM
    You will capture street-level images with smartphones or action cameras and upload them to Mapillary. The images will then be used to edit and improve OpenStreetMap by adding features to the map that help improve navigation results. If you’re currently unable to go out and capture street-level imagery due to the outbreak of Covid-19, you can still take part by simply using imagery that is already available on Mapillary
  • Someone from your mapping team would be available to present your mapping project at HOT Summit in Cape Town in July 2020
    Mapillary and HOT will sponsor representatives from the most successful projects to travel to the HOT Summit in Cape Town in July, where they will present their findings. A representative from the project must be available and willing to present their work at the HOT Summit.

You can read more about #map2020 here.

#map2020 timeline

#map2020 will take place across March and April with selected projects being funded to travel to Cape Town in July 2020 to present their findings at HOT Summit.

  • March 10: Project submissions open
  • March 26: Project submissions close | Mapping projects begin
  • March 20 - April 10: Image capture period (suggested dates)
  • April 10 - May 11: Map editing period (suggested dates)
  • April 11 - May 31: Analysis, review, and final report preparation (suggested dates)
  • May 31: Results submissions due
  • June 10: HOT Summit projects announced
  • Later in the year: Winning projects present at HOT Summit in Cape Town. This will depend on how the corona virus unfolds.

Submissions open today and you can submit your mapping project here.

This is the second time Mapillary and HOT team up for a mapping campaign with a humanitarian focus. We saw hundreds of thousands of images come in from all over the world during last year’s #map2020 as mapping groups tackled different humanitarian challenges in their community by improving the map. This year, we’re excited to level up and hone in on navigation specifically. Better navigation is needed in many places, but there are no places where the impact will be greater than in undermapped regions.

/Rebecca, Director of Community and Partnerships at HOT and Ed, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Mapillary

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