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By migrating to the Mapbox Tiling Service Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster reduced operational costs and improved quality of map visualizations

Key benefits of building with Mapbox

  • Reducing high operational and services costs with the Mapbox Tiling Service
  • More flexible map design with Mapbox Vector data
  • Improved teach efficiency when working with Mapbox Studio

products used

Mapbox Tiling Service


Base Maps

About Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster

Yahoo Japan Corporation is one of the largest Internet service providers in Japan with around 80 million users and over 100 services, including the Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster app for mobile and web.

The Yahoo! JAPAN Weather app equips users with weather forecasts, including Rainfall Radar data and typhoon storm tracking. The Yahoo! JAPAN Disaster Alert app delivers push notifications of hazard warnings, such as earthquakes and torrential rain, and provides users with real-time social posts from other users, official updates, and the locations of nearby evacuation sites for each type of disaster.

Map services challenges that needed to be addressed  

Previously, Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster's underlying map data was delivered from on-premise tile servers, with the map images distributed from static image distribution servers. The operation and maintenance cost of these servers kept increasing, and Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster Information needed to address this issue. Another pain-point was unstable map rendering during spikes in usage.

Rainfall Radar (App) & Rainfall Radar (Web)

In addition, all map data for Yahoo! JAPAN applications was managed by a dedicated in-house map team in order to maintain uniformity. It was challenging and time consuming to work with the Weather & Disaster data, as the style was based on Excel files and the map styling guidance was cumbersome. The challenge was that when new developments, modifications, or customization were required by different applications, the map team had difficulty keeping up with the new requests, slowing the productivity of app teams.

"Because the map team managed the style of the base map, it was difficult to prepare maps optimized for weather and disaster content. The previous style sheet was based on Excel files, and we had to describe a large number of layers with alphanumeric characters and symbols. Without learning how to read it, one cannot get a final image in their head, or understand which data on the map pointed to which layer. It took a long time to apply the Excel configuration file to the map, too"

Tatsuya Morooka, Planning and Direction, Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster

Lower maintenance effort and cost, with faster development and design

Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster was facing a demand for highly accurate and easy to work with map data to provide accurate weather and disaster prevention information for users in a way they could easily understand. Mapbox offered a solution for each of the challenges, from data hosting to map performance and styling. Based on positive collaboration experiences between Yahoo Japan Corporation and Mapbox, the map team decided to switch from Yahoo! JAPAN's map platform to Mapbox. This migration replaced Yahoo! Japan's large in-house tileservers, managed in the private cloud, with the Mapbox Tiling Service (MTS) and slashed infrastructure maintenance costs. 

In addition to cost savings, because MTS converts geospatial data to vector tiles this made it easier and faster to update the applications’ maps dynamically when the underlying data changes, without needing to rebuild map styles. It also provides a high-speed, low-latency cache network to enable scaling in any region, which is especially important for the Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster team due to the high spikes in traffic that the apps receive during weather or disaster events.

"MTS supports advanced scaling, which helps display detailed information by zooming into a specific area of the map during a disaster, all without extensive load. This feature gives us great confidence despite skyrocketing traffic during an emergency."

Akihiro Kajiwara, Development Lead, Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster

Work with Mapbox Studio solved the pain point of needing to use and maintain complex styling instructions in spreadsheets. The user-friendly design of Mapbox Studio made it easier for the team to coordinate on map styling changes and manage their map styles.

"Mapbox Studio UI is very intuitive. Compared to our Excel sheet days, it is much more efficient, and easier for us to imagine the final output."

Tatsuya Morooka, Planning and Direction, Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster

More beautiful and performance maps, for less cost and effort

The biggest benefit of migrating to Mapbox was reducing the high operation costs of the servers to zero. Another operational benefit was the significantly reduced costs of distributing the static images Optimal retention and distribution of map data is now maintained by Mapbox, allowing the Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster Information team to focus on developing their custom app services and designing how to visualize data for each service. 

In addition, the Disaster Information Service no longer has to worry about traffic surges during peak periods. The enhanced stability of the existing services brought new possibilities to offer new services on Mapbox.

Another benefit of the migration was completing a conversion from raster data to vector data, which supports more flexible and dynamic map styling.

Another contribution was switching from raster data to vector data, which allows to change the representation of geographical features in a flexible manner based on different purposes, even for the same terrain. Also vector data perfectly fits for representing features with clear boundaries.

Yahoo! JAPAN Weather & Disaster app now delivers accurate climate data in real-time, with high performance maps and improved stability for their large user base.

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