Bing imagery

Posted by AkuAnakTimur on 24 March 2018 in English (English)

Today, I (accidentally) found out that the Bing imagery layer in OSM editors has seen an update — the last ever update for my local area, IIRC, is from 2013-ish. Many, many years ago, when some areas (even my state capital) were still stuck with Landsat imagery. There are limited high res imageries too, but it’s quite outdated (some are from 2005, for example), for the rest of my country (Malaysia).

Mapbox decided to share their imagery too, roughly mid-2014; and last year DigitalGlobe and Esri chipped in as well. With the availability of more recent and higher resolution imageries, usually DG layers has become my staple for editing, since their debut from May last year.

Bing imagery - in the editors: iD and JOSM - is more or less, DigitalGlobe (DG) Premium layer, but with overzoom. The advantage is that new users might find that it is more bearable to edit in higher zoom levels. DG Premium would only display white tiles, when an editor is trying to go beyond zoom level 19.

Pretty thrilled to be honest, at least new editors will be able to benefit from this, as Bing imagery is the default imagery in the iD editor. Previously, I reckon these new editors (in my country) might find editing OSM so off-putting; seeing outdated imagery, or Landsat imagery where higher resolution imagery is not available.

So I checked Bing Maps, expecting changes. Who knows… Apparently, the satellite layer in their own website is not updated yet. Which baffled me a bit. Probably that will take some time?

P.S. Anyway thank you very much Microsoft for your imagery refresh.

Comment from Warin61 on 24 March 2018 at 21:58

In some areas of the world the Bing imagery is blurred, whereas the DigitalGlobe Premium imagery is not. A trick with overzooming is to turn off loading new tiles … this gets around the DigitalGlobe Premium imagery white tiles.

I would very much prefer the imagery to be different between the different sypliers - it helps with things like cloud cover.

Comment from GOwin on 25 March 2018 at 05:27

@Warin61, that’s about DigitalGlobe is also true for us in the Philippines - but with big caveat, their imagery alignment quality is definitely below that of Bing, so we have a lot of newer mis-aligned digitized features.

We’ll know more about how it goes for the new Bing imagery as soon as I check them out.

Comment from AkuAnakTimur on 25 March 2018 at 08:39


Is it possible to do so in iD editor?

Since Bing might not be updated often, then it is somehow possible to get around with imageries that suffer from cloud covers.

Comment from HubMiner on 30 March 2018 at 10:30

Agreed, this updated imagery is super helpful… My experience in the last few months is that I have to rotate through all later - different areas will have different sources for latest / cleanest imagery.

In my wish world, it would be nice if ID and JOSM would support layer mode for auto selecting latest or cleanest later.

Comment from HubMiner on 30 March 2018 at 10:32

Another semi related observation: Strava changed just in the last month to be almost unusable.

Comment from AkuAnakTimur on 5 April 2018 at 15:07


At least, in the States, there are imageries in the public domain, which might be updated quite often.

Here in Malaysia, actually; even I myself am desperate for any imagery updates. It makes things better!

Since you have mentioned Strava heatmaps as well, it’s a huge loss on our side too. We do have uploaded GPS tracks in OSM, but they’re mostly concentrated on major highways.

Personally I too find Strava heatmaps is a major relief, especially in rural areas. Tracing based on Strava heatmap is not purely blind armchair mapping.

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