We just put 7.5 cm (3 inch) resolution UAV imagery on our satellite map near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. The data is sharp enough to see individual tree leaves, roof tiles, and signs of homes rebuilt by the World Bank’s Northeast Housing Reconstruction Program (NEHRP):

The imagery is from UAVs flown by the Sri Lankan Government Disaster Management Center and the Survey Department of Sri Lanka, as part of a World Bank–supported project to proactively understand risk in flood prone regions. The project, which we mentioned last month, is especially timely as Sri Lanka responds to serious flooding.

The UAVs collect a level of detail that’s unusual to see on maps anywhere in the world – we had to remove some checks in our code to roll out zoom level 22 imagery. With that change, we put these pixels through the same pipeline that we use for everything from user uploads to Landsat-live. There’s no special internal publishing API: we use the same one that you do as a developer on our platform.

Farm animals rest in a backyard pasture.

Outrigger canoes are popular boats for fishing in the lagoon.

Goats eat in a backyard pasture, rocks are piled at the edge of an orchard for a construction project, and “NEHRP” is visible on repaired roofs.

High resolution imagery affords more detail for tracing in OpenStreetMap, and better imagery will result in a higher quality map for all. This particular area is under-traced; now, we have the detail necessary to straighten roads, add houses, and even map individual trees.

Here’s me adding a few houses via the iD editor for OpenStreetMap. You can help trace, too!

Imagery this detailed (and beautiful) is taking off across the remote sensing community. We think that’s great. We’re looking forward to putting more ultra high-res pixels on our maps as they’re collected all over the world. If you want to talk about UAV imagery (or anything else), ping me on Twitter.