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Come out and map on Saturday April 26th for the 2014 OpenStreetMap spring #editathon here at the Mapbox DC office. Editathons are a great way to connect with local mappers over improving OpenStreetMap or learn what OpenStreetMap is all about. We’ll be working on the DC map or your favorite spot in the world and there will be people to give you an introduction to editing OpenStreetMap and working with OpenStreetMap data.

Bring your computer, there will be wireless, coffee and snacks. Let us know on the MappingDC meetup group that you’re joining or just show up at our office any time between noon and 5PM on Saturday 26th. Join us for drinks after at the Garden District.

Mapbox Launches Smart Directions

Apr 21 2014 by Eric Gundersen

Mapbox just launched Smart Directions. Developers can now program routing profiles with the same level of customization that we bring to our map designs. Smart Directions is live in production and launching today across the entire fleet of Scoot scooters in San Francisco.

TileMill adds support for Esri FileGDB format

Apr 16 2014 by Dane Springmeyer

TileMill now supports reading vector features directly from the proprietary Esri File Geodatabase (FileGDB) format. Interoperability with the FileGDB format is a major advance for Esri users that have adopted TileMill for styling and publishing their maps but still maintain large archives of source data in FileGDB format. The new FileGDB support allows users to edit geo data in ArcMap and style it in TileMill at the same time.

Running maps for RunKeeper

Apr 16 2014 by Garrett Miller

Today RunKeeper.com launched new maps with tens of thousands of new trails on top of detailed terrain with elevation data – exactly how runners want to see their activity mapped. The new details are all from Monday’s release of Mapbox Outdoors – our new terrain map designed for those who go off the beaten path, focusing on trails, topography, hillsides, mountain peaks, creeks, and other natural features.

The new Mapbox Outdoors is all about bringing the background forward. Hill shades orient runners, topography lines help hikers judge ascents, roads are designed to overlay GPS tracks from your rides. All features are globally available at highest zoom levels and fully customizable. We see this map becoming a core part in outdoor apps, letting developers tailor its design exactly to brand and type of activity. Creating Mapbox Outdoors meant not only processing terabytes of new landcover and elevation data, but taking a completely fresh look at all aspects of designing a map for adventure. Here are my favorite highlights of the new design.

Monitoring nuclear plants with micro-satellites

Apr 15 2014 by Bruno Sánchez-Andrade Nuño

The IR-40 reactor is shaded red and the heavy water facility is shown with blue markers. The perimeter of the plant is shown in Orange. (Click on button to replay tracing)

IR-40 is a nuclear reactor near Arak, Iran. The government states that this reactor is intended for research and development as well as medical and industrial isotope production. There are concerns whether it might also be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Officially, though, the reactor is not yet operational with construction halted since November as Iran negotiates with the international community.

Last week, Iran agreed to alter the design to generate less plutonium. Negotiations will likely continue until July 20th, when construction is scheduled to start again. During this time satellite monitoring of the facility is key — here is a look at imagery from Skybox on Dec 29th, 2013 shows functioning steam exhausts on the deuterium oxide (heavy water) production section of the facility. High frequency access to imagery that allows for regular monitoring is one of the reasons we’re excited about integrating Skybox imagery into the Mapbox API and cloud platform.

Introducing Mapbox Outdoors

Apr 14 2014 by AJ Ashton

Mapbox Outdoors is a beautiful new map made for hiking, running, cycling, skiing, and exploring.

We are starting a massive refresh of Mapbox Satellite, partnering again with our friends at DigitalGlobe — the largest satellite company in the world. We are going to add 500,000 km2 of fresh imagery at very high resolution to key spots all around the world — this will let us cover thousands of fresh city updates.

All Mapbox Satellite data is fully traceable in OpenStreetMap, if you need tracing for commercial purposes outside of OpenStreetMap check out Mapbox Commercial Satellite. This means that all of this new imagery will be available for any tracing needs. So, where should we focus first? We just launched this new feedback tool so you can help us decide where new images are needed.

Follow us on twitter @Mapbox to get updates as the new imagery rolls out.

Map Design SketchUp Plugin

Apr 10 2014 by Bobby Sudekum

mapbox sketchup plugin

The Mapbox SketchUp Plugin makes it easy to add custom maps or imagery to your SketchUp for more design control. Any map you made in TileMill or on mapbox.com can be added to your to SketchUp projects.

We have secured our infrastructure from Heartbleed, a serious OpenSSL vulnerability that caused security on most of the internet to virtually evaporate overnight (good post by the New York Times). There is no indication that any data on Mapbox was compromised as a result of Heartbleed, but as a precaution, we strongly suggest that you reset your Mapbox password.

Let’s have a GeoLadies get together at State of the Map US this weekend during the coffee break at 3:30 pm on Saturday. Grab a coffee and join us in Room 143 (lunch room). There’s going to amazing energy at this conference. Not only will it be the largest OpenStreetMap gathering to date, it will also be the most diverse with more women attending and speaking than years past. This is a trend we need to continue and improve on. So let’s get together to meet the women in the OpenStreetMap community, share our experiences, and talk about how we can grow.

Watch the Birds of a Feather board by registration for more details and any changes.

Monitoring Oil reserves from Space

Apr 08 2014 by Bruno Sánchez-Andrade Nuño

Skybox Imaging is making it easy to monitor oil reserves and other resources from space. Oil is typically stored in tanks with roofs that float to avoid breathing and evaporative losses in the space between the top of the oil and the tank ceiling. With the roof’s moving, flat surface and basic trigonometry we can use Skybox’s satellite images to estimate the fill and volume of oil containers. The ratio of length of the tank shadow casted over the outside versus the inside is proportional to be volume of oil inside the tank.

Below is an analytics use case created by Skybox co-founder Dan Berkenstock and Skybox Product Manager Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin using two SkySat-1 images of the Ras Tanura Oil facility in Saudi Arabia leveraging our visualization tools. Using the method described above on both images we can monitor the change in volume for each tank:

Ras Tanura Najmah compound, Saudi Arabia

Audiolizing Server Query Rate

Apr 07 2014 by Dennis Luxen

Project OSRM is audiolizing the server query rate on our demo site. It’s kind of like a geiger counter for monitoring usage, letting people feel what is happening in an abstracted way. An often (implicitly) applied technique to do this is Well-Known Patterns: Things you recognize without thinking. Like green in traffic means go. Or an X that marks a spot in a pirate map. Or even the famous Munich 1972 Summer Olympics pictograms by Otl Aicher. The list goes on and on, but these things have one thing in common. The combination of simplicity and immediate recognizability. In our case, I went with a geiger counter – here is what last night sounded like: (mp3, 93kb):

Listening to it, each click is a distinct query that is answered. Each click is a piece of communication that is send and connects us to someone else. You immediately get the idea of how much traffic is going on. No charts, no numbers, only the power of sound and simplicity.

Women Who Code @Mapbox

Apr 04 2014 by Bonnie Bogle

Four out of five of our newest team members at Mapbox are amazing women who code. This is awesome, and it’s just the start. We’re growing fast at Mapbox and are looking for talented, hungry women — and men — to join our team. If this sounds like you, check out our current job openings and reach out to me directly at bonnie@mapbox.com or on Twitter @bonnie. I’d love to talk.

Creating Maps From Drone Imagery

Apr 04 2014 by Bobby Sudekum

Here is an end to end walkthrough showing how to process drone imagery into maps and then share it online, all using imagery we collected on a recent flight with the 3D Robotics team and their Aero drone.

Flying with 3D Robotics in Berkeley, CA

Mapping an entire city in a day

Apr 04 2014 by Eric Fischer

This is what you get when you combine community, open data, and awesome imagery. In 29 hours 68 contributors mapped an entire city (20,105 buildings):

Read more about how OpenStreetMap volunteers led by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team used new high resolution satellite imagery published by DigitalGlobe to help Doctors without Borders assist with the Ebola outbreak.

Drone Adventures released four new UAV imagery layers of their recent deployments for tracing on OpenStreetMap. Three of the maps are from Fukushima, Japan, one from Lima, Peru. This release is part of our partnership with Drone Adventures to make drone imagery available to OpenStreetMap for tracing.

All imagery is hosted on Mapbox and can be traced on OpenStreetMap with any of its editors. You can get started tracing this imagery into OpenStreetMap by using the OpenStreetMap US tasking manager following any of these links:

  1. Tomioka, Fukushima
  2. Hisanohama, Fukushima
  3. Iidate, Fukushima
  4. Lima, Peru

The imagery was shot with a Sensefly eBee drone and is of very high resolution, capturing multiple square miles down to zoom level 21 — plenty for street level mapping.

The Fukushima imagery was sourced as part of a survey of the ongoing reconstruction effort three years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, read up on background over at the Drone Adventures blog. The Lima imagery was created to support the participatory mapping project ReMap Lima.

Tomioka, abandoned city in Fukushima prefecture, Japan

Carol Hansen joins Mapbox

Apr 03 2014 by Young Hahn

Developer Carol Hansen joins the Mapbox team in Washington, DC! Previously, Carol worked in web development, GIS, and volunteered as a developer with Code for Boston, the Boston-based CfA Brigade. She will be jumping in on the API and web services team, helping to make Mapbox tools even better.

New high resolution satellite images for Ebola outbreak region

Apr 02 2014 by Bruno Sánchez-Andrade Nuño

We just processed high resolution imagery with DigitalGlobe for Mamou, a region within the center of the Ebola outbreak where more than 80 people have died and more are at risk as the virus spreads to urban areas. High resolution imagery of Mamou was previously unavailable; you can now trace the imagery and help map this area via the HOT Task Manager (_read more about the tracing efforts).

This satellite image was taken by GeoEye-1 on January 8th, 2013 at 11:18:44 UTC. Resolution is pan-sharpened 0.5 meters/pixel and processed and uploaded to Mapbox within one hour upon delivery of the data using our satellite imagery processing pipeline. If you are coming to OpenStreetMap’s State of the Map US next week you can lean more about DigitalGlobe imagery for OpenStreetMap from Kevin Bullock, who is presenting on “Mapping the World in Raster.”

Satellite image we just released with an overlay of Mapbox Streets. Since we source our data from OpenStreetMap, the map above is always updated with the latest contributions from the community. Swipe the slider to see streets overlay.

For a visualization of the amazing mapping activity in the past week, see Eric Fischer’s blog post.

Zeit Online Launches Custom Maps

Apr 02 2014 by Alex Barth

Zeit Online, the digital sister publication of Germany’s most widely read weekly paper launched new maps in a completely custom branded design, seamlessly integrating into the website’s look and feel. The new maps use German labels, all sourced through OpenStreetMap. Thomas Jöchler, head of Zeit Online’s interactive team says:

We’ve developed a design for our maps that would be Zeit’s unique canvas for anything geographic. Our maps needed to be functional for something as simple as showing context with locator maps or as complex as elaborate interactives. Our new maps carry the branding of Zeit Online, yet their design is subtle, not glaring, setting the stage for our content on mobile and the web.

Map showing how doctor’s offices concentrate in affluent neighborhoods of German cities.