Mapillary, a personal street view

Mapillary Logo

I’ve introduced this app briefly on the other part of this blog under “favourite GPS apps” and here I’m going to elaborate on it a bit because it’s really a great app.

In a nutshell, it’s an app that takes google street view and puts the camera in your hands. Instead of only seeing pictures from the google car, you can see photos from anyone and anywhere they’ve decided to go. Photos aren’t restricted to the road, and they’re not restricted to one company. One of the beautiful things about it is, people will take more time to take good shots of the places they know and love. This means instead of having some generic photograph of a location, taken by someone who was paid to perform to a certain standard, you get a passionate volunteer who’s eager to show the best of their favourite locations.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

First, is the google maps version. You can see I’m holding the little yellow guy and no roads are showing up blue. That’s because the google car has not yet made its way there yet. And that’s totally understandable,  for one company to map every single road in the world is a really ambitious project, and it’s sure to come with some sacrifices.Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 3.46.59 PM

And then there’s the Mapillary version. As you can see on the right, someone (it was me) has been taking photos in Lund!  Not only did I take photos of the road, so you can see the conditions, etc. I also made a quick 360 degree panoramic compilation and included the sign on the left which explains how Lund got it’s name. Not only is it visually informative, but since I like the place I took the time to show off a little bit of its history by highlighting that sign (there were other things I could have highlighted as well, but our water taxi was about to leave).Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 3.48.19 PM

Another example is for work. When we’re out in the field and in fairly remote locations, such as logging roads or in the forest, I use Mapillary and keep a log of what the area looks like. That way I can upload them later when I’m in WiFi and send someone a link to my map if I want to show them that “yes there is a stream nearby for drinking water” or to simply just to show people the interesting and remote locations where my job takes me.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 4.19.49 PM

You can upload just a few pictures as a personal reference (or for reminder sake), or you can upload tons of them. In fact it is encouraged.

So maybe my comparisons are a little unfair, I mean these two examples are comparing a place with photos to a place without them. But the obvious limitations of Google street view imagery, are that you wont find a picture from the middle of the forest on street view. And of course you could just take a photo and send it to someone if you wanted to show them what an area looks like, but believe me, this process is way quicker. It’s one touch to upload your files (once in WiFi), you don’t have to attach a file, and you can spread the idea of mapping  to friends, family, and co workers so we can help to build a photographic map of the world. Sounds pretty ambitious, but if everyone takes just a few photos from their neighbourhoods or the next time they’re on a camping trip, then it’s totally manageable.

Download Mapillary today (it’s free!)




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