One million square kilometers of imagery added to our satellite base map
This is a targeted allotment of 50cm-resolution imagery, covering large parts of Central and Northern Europe, as well as Brazil. The addition updates high-demand areas and gives our customers the best imagery for their applications.
Choosing the right pixels
Maintaining a high-quality imagery base map is one of the main tasks of our Raster team, and “quality” has several considerations when such data is concerned:
- Spatial resolution - How big are the pixels? 30 meters like Landsat data? 8cm like drone orthophotos?
- Vintage - What’s the recency of the imagery? Was it acquired last week or 5 years ago?
- Demand - Which imagery tiles are requested by millions of end users every day, and which are hardly ever seen?
- Cloud cover - Can the ground actually be seen, or is there an uncorrectable haze looming between the land and the satellite?
The perfect combination of good imagery qualities is often very hard to come by. However, our longstanding relationship with global imagery leader Maxar (provider of our 2020 135 million km2 base map update) allows us to be strategic in how we balance these factors.
In order to make the most of our million km2 update allotment, we’ve formalized a selection process - one we’ve used in previous years - into the Vintage Improvement Priority Index (VIPI). VIPI combines the quality factors above with metadata from providers like Maxar about what imagery is available, and distills them into target areas for acquisition. We can further refine the targets by limiting the output to certain countries, and by adding weight to the request traffic of customers. We can then place our order with a handful of well-considered polygons.
As we try to keep the right balance of imagery qualities for Mapbox’s customers, we’re targeting a regular cadence of updates from our providers: high-resolution aerial imagery in addition to our satellite imagery. These sorts of relationships - made possible by years of hard work by multiple people - will go a long way toward a timely, detailed, cost-effective, and beautiful Mapbox imagery base map.
We’ll keep you updated as the pixels roll in.