Mapbox Streets, our customizable map layer of streets, buildings, and places from all around the world, is powered by open data from OpenStreetMap. Think of OpenStreetMap as the Wikipedia of maps. It’s a project founded on the belief that when data is open then everyone can work together to build the map. Anyone can quickly add roads and buildings to keep up with a changing world.
Mapbox Streets + OpenStreetMap
OpenStreetMap is focused on data. The project hosts a constantly-changing database that it shares with anyone who wants to build a map.
Data for Mapbox Streets comes primarily from OpenStreetMap, with Natural Earth and our own tweaks used for some parts. Changes made to the central OpenStreetMap database are reflected on Mapbox’s maps within minutes. This means that if you find an error that we pulled from OpenStreetMap on a Mapbox map, then you can fix it by editing OpenStreetMap directly.
OpenStreetMap has multiple quality-assurance feedback tools that improve data and catch problems before they spread. The dedication to accuracy, by the 1.5 million person userbase, is one very important piece of the quality assurance process in the OpenStreetMap community.
OpenStreetMap has a flag system that allows users to identify where a mistake may have been made, or areas that may need special attention from someone with local knowledge.
In this example, the main road that leads into Cap-Hatian, a city in Northern Haiti, has a note that mentions a slight bend in the road that looks out of place:
When a user with local knowledge goes in to fix the feature or verify that it is correctly drawn, they can resolve the issue:
In addition to the daily efforts of contributors, OpenStreetMap employs several other methods for identifying errors in the data. For example, KeepRight automatically detects issues with the road system that could affect routing and JOSM/Validator lets individual users validate their neighborhoods.
What if a user makes incorrect changes or additions to OpenStreetMap on purpose? Thankfully, that rarely happens. For cases that do pop up, OpenStreetMap has a method of membership policing that reverts all changes made by the rabble-rouser. In extreme cases, OpenStreetMap can place a ‘virtual ban’ on the user’s ability to contribute.
How we contribute
Mapbox isn’t just a user of OpenStreetMap – through our open-source efforts, we’ve improved fundamental elements of the OpenStreetMap experience.
We’re also pushing hard to spread OpenStreetMap with the Improve this Map button. With just a click, you can hop straight from a Mapbox map to editing the data behind it.
You can also use Mapbox to contribute to OpenStreetMap. Much of OpenStreetMap’s data is derived from tracing – looking at satellite imagery and drawing lines on roads and other features. Mapbox’s satellite imagery is now fully traceable, so you can use our sharp, cloudless satellite maps to improve the world’s street map.
We contribute to OpenStreetMap, and you should too!
Sign up for a free account to start contributing. The OpenStreetMap web editor allows you to draw or edit features such as roads, buildings, parks, traffic signals, and labels. Check out LearnOSM for a step by step guide to start contributing to the project.
We’ve covered how Mapbox works with OpenStreetMap data, the quality controls behind it, and how you can be a part of this growing movement to provide a free and open data set for everyone.