OpenStreetMap

Mapillary and Facebook - Combining our open mapping efforts

Posted by jesolem on 18 June 2020 in English (English)

Today we announced that Mapillary has joined Facebook with our missions to map the world converging. This is a significant step forward in the Mapillary journey which many of you have been an instrumental part of. Our decision to join Facebook allows us to build upon our efforts to map the world. We’ll have the resources and scale to help support the collection of street-level imagery while applying computer vision that will greatly increase the quantity and quality of map data available for OpenStreetMap.

The OpenStreetMap community has been an integral part of Mapillary since we began, so I’d like to share our perspective on what this change means for OpenStreetMap and why we’re so excited for the next step in Mapillary’s journey.

A collaborative model

Since Mapillary began in 2013, we have sought to build a collaborative platform where images and computer vision are used to map the world. The OpenStreetMap community was quick to embrace Mapillary and see the potential street-level images have to build better maps. Here are just a few examples of the community has been using street-level imagery:

  • Ballerup, Denmark: neogeografen has uploaded millions of images in Ballerup and surrounds which he uses to map cycle paths, street-lighting, and points of interest.
  • Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and the Ramania Huria project made use of Trimble’s advanced 360º camera to collect imagery and map flood resilience characteristics.
  • Xayaboury, Laos: The World Bank has been working with Laos’ Department of Transportation to build and monitor roads in Xayaboury province. Imagery helps ensure the roads are mapped in OpenStreetMap during and after the construction phase.
  • Padova, Italy: The state of urban accessibility was mapped using 10,000 images and meetings with citizens and associations. This project proved the viability of data collection, analysis, and policy advocacy with OpenStreetMap and Mapillary as primary tools.

Mapillary platforms and licensing

As we outlined in the blog post, our plan is to continue being a global platform for imagery, map data, and improving all maps. You’ll be able to continue capturing, uploading, and working with Mapillary images.

All of the images and data on Mapillary are available for editing OpenStreetMap. Nothing changes here and Mapillary imagery and data will continue to be available for OpenStreetMap in compliance with the OpenStreetMap Foundation Contributor terms.

Mapillary + Facebook for OSM

Mapillary’s involvement in OpenStreetMap has been one of the highlights of our journey to date. Here is a quick summary of the tools we’ve built and/or supported during this time.

Mapillary’s image and traffic sign layers shown within JOSM Mapillary’s image and traffic sign layers shown within JOSM

This next chapter of Mapillary’s journey is an opportunity to build upon our OpenStreetMap efforts to a degree that was not possible earlier on. Previous OpenStreetMap development had to be balanced against development work for other mapping use cases. As part of Facebook, we can focus on OpenStreetMap while supporting Facebook’s open mapping efforts.

OpenStreetMap helps to power location-centric experiences at Facebook, such as their Marketplace that drives transactions for millions of small businesses in addition to supplying vital data to humanitarian organizations around the world. Facebook improves OpenStreetMap through map editing and Map with AI, an open AI-powered set of services/tools that includes the RapiD editor, a fork of iD Editor. RapiD demonstrates the potential of AI-extracted map features when they’re made available to the community in a workflow that increases mapping speed, and more importantly, drive a higher level of detail, quality and accuracy on the map. As part of Facebook, we are combining our experiences applying computer vision to street-level and satellite imagery. This enables us to build exciting tools for OpenStreetMap, empowering the community to capture and use imagery in new ways.

Mapillary’s AI derived map features viewed within iD Editor Mapillary’s AI derived map features viewed within iD Editor

What’s next

We’re incredibly grateful for the support and vision the OpenStreetMap community has shown since the early days of Mapillary. As we join the Facebook team, we hope you will continue to shape our thinking, informing and utilizing tools that together allow us to create an open map of the world.

/Jan Erik

Comment from Mateusz Konieczny on 18 June 2020 at 17:55

Do you have any contact with people in Facebook that would be able to fix missing attribution?

Currently FB is not attributing OSM properly in its products and I have no idea who can be (a) contacted (b) can fix that issue or order someone to fix this issue.

Comment from itsamap! on 18 June 2020 at 21:22

Good job! I hope this enables you to do more of the great work that you are already doing!

Comment from lyx on 18 June 2020 at 22:55

Sorry, English is not my primary language, and Marketeese is even less so. Could you translate “Mapillary has joined Facebook” into plain English, please?

Comment from Mateusz Konieczny on 18 June 2020 at 23:08

Could you translate “Mapillary has joined Facebook” into plain English, please?

Facebook bought Mapillary

Comment from M!dgard on 19 June 2020 at 00:11

Very disappointing. The all-seeing Facebook gains yet more control.

I propose that we all thank Mapillary for the service these past years and find somewhere else to put our photos.

Comment from scai on 19 June 2020 at 05:56

Very disappointing. The all-seeing Facebook gains yet more control.

I propose that we all thank Mapillary for the service these past years and find somewhere else to put our photos.

+1

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Comment from Heather Leson on 19 June 2020 at 07:07

congratulations! Looking forward to seeing how this helps local communities

Comment from nickjohnston on 19 June 2020 at 11:22

Very disappointing. The all-seeing Facebook gains yet more control.

I propose that we all thank Mapillary for the service these past years and find somewhere else to put our photos.

I dislike Facebook and don’t use it, so this was my initial reaction too.

But thinking about it more, Facebook (like anyone else) was already able to use Mapillary images to improve OpenStreetMap before the acquisition. Also, if I’m not mistaken, there was nothing to stop Facebook paying Mapillary to use the images for other purposes, in the same that way HERE did for example. At the time, that made me a little uneasy, but Mapillary had to fund itself somehow (storage and salaries aren’t cheap).

Still, Facebook’s involvement makes me a little uncomfortable.

Comment from M!dgard on 19 June 2020 at 14:35

Because Mapillary doesn’t make it exactly easy to delete your photos, I wrote a small program to help you do that: https://framagit.org/Midgard/exit-mapillary

Since Mapillary doesn’t seem to allow downloading the images in full resolution outside their web app, I didn’t bother writing a downloader.

Comment from M!dgard on 19 June 2020 at 15:14

Is login wall intentional?

No, I forgot to make it public when it was ready. Fixed now, thanks for the heads-up!

Comment from CjMalone on 19 June 2020 at 15:34

I think this is a good thing, and welcome Facebook to becoming even more involved with OSM.

I hope Mapillary manages to get Facebook to release some more of its data for use in OSM. POI data for example.

Comment from M!dgard on 19 June 2020 at 15:46

A quick introduction to Facebook: Facebook is a company that is built on learning as much data about people, in order to effectively manipulate them. Their business model is offering this manipulation as a paid service in such projects as advertising, and influencing voting.

It’s a verifiable fact that they are able to follow you around vast portions of the web. It’s a public secret that they have shadow profiles about people without an account, and that deleting data is impossible. They ignore and lobby away regulations that should protect users.

Facebook is not one to welcome.

Comment from CjMalone on 19 June 2020 at 16:41

Facebook has undoubtedly done a lot of harm, but it has also done a lot of good.

in order to effectively manipulate them

That’s exactly what newspapers used to do when people read them. It’s what the news organisations continue to do.

advertising

That existed before Facebook, and will after, yeah, it kinda sucks as a user experience, but it has allowed Facebook to be an equal platform not limited to the middle and upper classes with disposable income.

influencing voting

Again, this has been done forever. If you are upset that Facebook was involved with Donald Trump being elected in USA you also have to be upset about it electing Barack Obama.

I never expected to be a Facebook defender, I haven’t has an account in almost a decade, I block a bunch of their domains to try and avoid having a shadow profile.

Facebook is helping demolish racism right now, without the massive platform available to all we would have never seen the video of police officers killing George Floyd, or any of the uncountable videos showing it over the last decade. The newspapers wouldn’t have even mentioned it, or if they did it would have been a footnote blaming the victim.

Facebook has undoubtedly done a lot of harm, but it has also done a lot of good.

Comment from gitouche on 19 June 2020 at 17:53

https://framagit.org/Midgard/exit-mapillary

Downloader exists, don’t delete your precious imagery without getting them back first!! https://github.com/gitouche-sur-osm/mapillary_takeout

Comment from Nemo_bis on 19 June 2020 at 19:06

Facebook has a history of vanishing things, so people are getting worried about archiving all the Mapillary data. Doing it in a non-cooperative manner may increase costs for everyone involved. https://www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Mapillary

It would be great if Mapillary entered an agreement with an open archive (https://www.re3data.org/ ) to host a dump of all the images, under a free license. I would suggest https://zenodo.org/ because CERN certainly has sufficient technical resources and has such (smaller scale) agreements with other entities to share costs of their hosting and development.

Comment from M!dgard on 19 June 2020 at 21:28

Downloader exists, don’t delete your precious imagery without getting them back first!! https://github.com/gitouche-sur-osm/mapillary_takeout

Thanks a lot, gitouche! I downloaded my images that weren’t wiped yet, and I added a link to your repo in Exit Mapillary’s README.

Comment from M!dgard on 20 June 2020 at 13:27

That’s exactly what newspapers used to do when people read them. It’s what the news organisations continue to do. […] [Influencing voting] has been done forever

Those don’t lure people into sharing their life with them, or worse, harvest people’s data without their consent. The only way they do that is by writing articles that people read willingly, not by tailoring . Sure, they do have power, and we see it being misused, but there’s still a more healthy competition there, so this is not the same as Facebook.

That existed before Facebook, and will after, yeah, it kinda sucks as a user experience, but it has allowed Facebook to be an equal platform not limited to the middle and upper classes with disposable income.

Yes, that’s indeed not the worst part.

without the massive platform available to all we would have never seen the video of police officers killing George Floyd

If Facebook wasn’t present, another platform might very well have taken this role. Maybe even a more ethical one.

Facebook has undoubtedly done a lot of harm, but it has also done a lot of good.

“They also do good things.” You can say the same of a lot of dictators about whom people still aren’t happy.

Comment from philippec on 20 June 2020 at 19:08

As I wrote already on the Belgian forum : Some people prefer to let people die, instead of using Mapillary to show the way to a defibrillator. How true to principles can one be ?

Comment from M!dgard on 20 June 2020 at 22:45

philippec is using this argument time and again. And as I have said time and again, I provide alternatives to Mapillary so that no-one will die.

Comment from philippec on 21 June 2020 at 08:21

Not all pictures are useful. It is hard for a picture to show detail and an overview of the place. And if one does not recognise the place, he can go back some pictures to a street he knows.

The first use of Mapillary in small objects is verification, and that is much easier with Mapillary sequences.

By the way, I work in the rescue business. In our region OSM is needed for mapping AEDs. The official system does not work. After mapping 650 of them, I know.

Comment from dooley on 21 June 2020 at 17:35

@M!dgard and @gitouche: Thanks for you tools. Now just waiting for confirmation email from mapillary.

Comment from RobJN on 21 June 2020 at 19:50

I had just been getting back in to mapillary in the last few weeks. Pleased to see the commitment to continuing to make the images and detections available to OpenStreetMap, plus going further to make them free for commercial use. I am still a bit concerned about the very long term but that is nothing new (same concern with Mapillary, same concern with OpenStreetCam, same concern with the other similar projects).

Went out today and collected more photos. For now the benefits far outweigh the risks. Hoping to see the benefits grow as the development progresses at pace without the need to worry about finances for a while.

Comment from ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 22 June 2020 at 09:39

Facebook is helping demolish racism right now

I trust Amenesty International on topics like this, and they say “Facebook poses an unprecedented danger to human rights”:

the surveillance-based business model of Facebook and Google is inherently incompatible with the right to privacy and poses a systemic threat to a range of other rights including freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of thought, and the right to equality and non-discrimination

Comment from juminet on 23 June 2020 at 07:12

Again, this has been done forever. If you are upset that Facebook was involved with Donald Trump being elected in USA you also have to be upset about it electing Barack Obama.

True, but this is not only about simple political advertising. In many countries, Facebook is paid by alleged neo-nazis parties (I’m not speaking of Trump nor Brexit) with budgets approaching millions of € for manipulating the opinions and make advertising. Newspapers usually don’t accept this money because they have some ethics.

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