Introducing the Surface API

Introducing the Mapbox Surface API

Introducing the Mapbox Surface API: it's a remarkable new way to access raw data behind a map. Using Mapbox Vector Tiles, the Surface API can look at elevation profiles to crime indices to home prices – anything, any data that you upload. Now it's as easy to make a geo API as it is to make a map.

The core of the API is a flexible query interface. Given a point on a mountain, it can compute the elevation at that point by interpolating nearby values. Given a line across the mountain's ridge, it'll return multiple elevation values along the path. And with the power of custom data, it can do so much more.

The API comes with the Mapbox elevation dataset, but the real power is being totally customizable: with custom vector tiles from Mapbox Studio Classic, you can make a totally new kind of geographical API. Create datasources for prices, temperatures, precipitation, sound, radiation, walkability – anything that's geographical – and the Surface API will query and analyze it. Here's an example from Death Valley, California, where we compare weather and elevation. Click the map in two places to give it a try:

Comparing weather and elevation with the Surface API.

We also made a bicycle theft rate density map in San Francisco that features bike theft and elevation. We uploaded theft data from to Mapbox so that we could visualize theft rates as we plan rides around the city. Click the map in two places to plan a route:

Routing with bicycle theft data and elevation in San Francisco.

If you make something cool, ping us @Mapbox.