Foursquare Switches to MapBox Streets, Joins the OpenStreetMap Movement

March 06 2012 by Eric Gundersen

Last week foursquare relaunched all of its web maps using our new MapBox Streets global street-level map, which is based on OpenStreetMap data. This is a huge endorsement of the value of open data and shows the fantastic growth potential of the OpenStreetMap community.

Starting today, we’re embracing the OpenStreetMap movement, so all the maps you see when you go to foursquare.com will look a tiny bit different (we think the new ones are really pretty).

The move to MapBox is less about cost savings means from switching from Google and more about maps that tightly fit foursquare’s community.

While the new Google Maps API pricing was the reason we initially started looking into other solutions, we ultimately ended up switching because, after all our research and testing, OpenStreetMap and MapBox was simply the best fit for us.

Bars most often frequented by the MapBox team

Foursquare’s explore page lets you filter venues based on you and your friends' past history, in this case showing places ‘I have been before’.

A huge part of foursquare is providing amazing location-based recommendations. As foursquare continues to evolve this part of its service, maps are obviously an increasingly important part of that.

Foursquare sees real value in open data. This is especially exciting with foursquare’s huge international user base (over 50% of their users are outside the United States), many living in places that are not well mapped by traditional mapping providers. While there are great examples showing where OpenStreetMap maps are better than Google maps, the reverse is also true - there are a lot of places where Google has better coverage than OpenStreetMap. What is particularly exiting is the medium term play - this is less about where the open data movement is today and more about where it is going as a community.

We love the idea of supporting open data through OpenStreetMap, and MapBox gives us greater flexibility on tile design for custom maps. And while OpenStreetMap has come a long way, there’s still a bit of work to be done to create an atlas of the whole world (the world is pretty huge). But we’re extremely excited about what we'e building towards.

We’re excited to be working with foursquare and to have our maps be an important part of the new direction its service is headed. It’s great to see a team like theirs so fired up about working with the larger OpenStreetMap community and helping channel more energy to grow that community and make its data richer.

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