OSM - Maxar Partnership


Facebook's AI Assisted Tracing

Dear OSM Community,

This email is to share the Facebook process and sample data for review by the OSM community. We welcome feedback. Our goal is to collaborate with the OpenStreetMap community to create quality road data, validated by trained mappers and local OSM communities.

We understand our process is not a traditional OSM import because we are creating the data ourselves and conflating it with existing OSM. As you will see on the wiki, the process is similar to remote tracing using satellite imagery, where human mappers are assisted with road suggestions generated by machine learning algorithms. Using the tasking manager, multiple people go through each node and way making sure to tag each road appropriately, connect them to current OSM data, fix alignment, when necessary, add sensible changeset comments/notes and resolve conflicts before finally saving where it is merged with the current OSM data.

We are working with just one country at a time and our edits will happen slowly by grouping areas into small regions so we complete one before moving to the next. We plan to spend the next few months in Thailand.

Using DG's Vivid+ imagery and have found we can get a 30% increase in road coverage for Thailand. Because imagery in OSM is much older in most areas we are able to pick newer roads with this imagery.
— Drishtie (March 15, 2017) Facebook's AI-Assisted Road Tracing for OSM lists.openstreetmap.org

OSM Community's response

I'm curious to know what kind of arrangement you have with DG.

I assume you're paying them, and in return they let you derive data from their imagery and publish it in any way you wish? So DG has no claim on the road data you're generating, but the rest of us can't see the original imagery you used to create that data - is that correct?
— Eric Jiang (March 15, 2017) Facebook's AI-Assisted Road Tracing for OSM lists.openstreetmap.org
Why don't you make the images used available for manual mapping?

Yes, i know you currently don't have the license for that but i am pretty sure DG would be happy to sell you a license. It is not really convincing in my eyes that the effort you put into automatic extraction of roads is actually cheaper than such a license, especially given that the images would allow mapping a lot more than just roads.

In other words: For the OSM community imagery contributions would be much more valuable than what you propose here so you need to expect a significant uphill battle if you want to import but not provide the imagery.

One important remark mainly for others participating in discussion here: The quality of imagery available in the Bing and Mapbox imagery layers is in significant parts not the best that is openly available for Thailand. Although open data imagery is usually not suited for mapping smaller roads, especially in densely vegetated areas, many of the samples shown of poor Bing imagery in context of this import plan are misleading in that regard because they show very old imagery far below today's base quality level openly available.

Providing up-to-date open data imagery for Thailand would be a fairly useful limited cost effort to improve the basis for manual mapping in Thailand.
— Christoph Hormann (March 15, 2017) Facebook's AI-Assisted Road Tracing for OSM lists.openstreetmap.org
In reading through the comments so far I think we need to keep a few things in mind. We can't demand more of Facebook than others doing imports. When a government releases data under an open license we don't demand to see the imagery they used to make it.
— Kate Chapman (March 16, 2017) Facebook's AI-Assisted Road Tracing for OSM lists.openstreetmap.org
Unless people can compare the source DG imagery with the derived roads, it's not possible to judge the process. The discussion on the Thai forum has suggested that it'd be useful for OSM mappers to access the DG imagery for mapping purposes other than road derivation. Obviously there may be commercial hurdles to climb in order to do either of these, but it'd be difficult to comment on the accuracy of the the import without the source DG imagery. However in case people are unaware DG have already responded in the forum thread said "we are looking at options to publish", so this may be in hand.
—Andy Townsend (March 16, 2017) Facebook's AI-Assisted Road Tracing for OSM lists.openstreetmap.org

DG's response

Hi Everyone, it's Kevin representing DigitalGlobe.

If you've seen my SOTM presentations from last year, I have spoken at length about the DG business model of licensing data. In short, we do this to sustain our business and to operate, develop and launch more satellites!

I'm happy to report we are making progress towards an exciting option that would allow DG to publish an imagery layer directly for OpenStreetMap editing. This is being funded by a group of organizations, and would make the +Vivid imagery layer available for registered OSM editors (the source for Facebook).
— Kevin Bullock (March 16, 2017) Facebook's AI-Assisted Road Tracing for OSM lists.openstreetmap.org
Very cool Kevin, I’m looking forward to the +Vivid release!
— Robert Banick (March 17, 2017) Facebook's AI-Assisted Road Tracing for OSM lists.openstreetmap.org

One month later

I came across this some time ago, where someone representing Digital Globe mentioned making their Vivid+ imagery available for "registered OSM users". I'm extremely curious if anyone has any more information on this? When the images will be available and how?
— Fredrik Lindseth (April 16, 2017) New aerial imagery from Digital Globe? help.openstreetmap.org
Hi all, it's Kevin from DG. Indeed, this is something we've been working on since last summer (my SOTMUS talk). We will have more details forthcoming by way of a blog post, but I can confirm we are planning on making DG imagery available to OSM users (not general public).
—Kevin Bullock (April 17, 2017) New aerial imagery from Digital Globe? help.openstreetmap.org


Over the past few months, we have been working with several of our partners that share the common goal of improving OpenStreetMap. To that end, they have generously funded the launch of a global imagery service powered by DigitalGlobe Maps API. This will open more data and more imagery to help aid OSM editing for OSM contributors. OSM contributors will see a new imagery source in addition to imagery being provided by our partners Bing and Mapbox. You will now see the following two image services from DigitalGlobe:
  1. DigitalGlobe-Premium is a mosaic composed of DigitalGlobe basemap with select regions filled with +Vivid or custom area of interest imagery, 50cm resolution or better, and refreshed more frequently with ongoing updates
  2. DigitalGlobe-Standard is a curated set of imagery covering 86% of the earth’s landmass, with 30-60cm or resolution where available, backfilled by Landsat. Average age is 2.31 years, with some areas updated 2x year.

We appreciate the OSM community’s awareness and diligence for licensing, so we wanted to be clear on the intended uses for this service. We have a short human readable EULA to summarize terms for editing OpenStreetMap :

DigitalGlobe Satellite EULA: DigitalGlobe, Inc. is pleased to provide its high resolution satellite imagery to OpenStreetMap in support of its mapping initiatives. By using our imagery in the OSM editor, you understand and agree that you may only use our imagery to trace, and validate edits that must be contributed back to OSM. You cannot download our imagery or use our imagery for any other purpose.

We retain all right, title and interest in and to our imagery. We provide our imagery “as is,” with all faults and as available; we disclaim all warranties, express or implied, to the extent permitted by applicable law. You can recover from us only direct damages up to an amount equal to the fees you have paid to us to use our imagery on OSM, if any.

We are not liable for any other damages, including consequential, lost profits, special, indirect, incidental or punitive damages.

Happy mapping!
—Kevin Bullock (May 9, 2017) DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery Launch for OpenStreetMap


DigitalGlobe, now Maxar, is transitioning the OpenStreetMap imagery endpoints (from “DigitalGlobe Standard” to “Maxar Standard”; and from “DigitalGlobe Premium” to “Maxar Premium”). The good news: imagery will be more recent and more frequently updated with our latest Maxar mosaic content. We hope that our improved production processes (bundle block adjustment, atmospheric compensation, continuous updates, etc.) will benefit OSM contributors.
— Kevin Bullock (June 28, 2019) Updates to DigitalGlobe imagery layers

2019 Outage

Recently, Maxar has seen sharp usage increases through automated requests coming from a few areas of the world that are of concern.

These are having detrimental impacts to our service and we are taking measures mitigate. Unfortunately this will mean an interruption of our imagery services for OpenStreetMap. Soon we will suspend our imagery service, and we are working with the developers of OSM editing tools to implement a more secure service and restore full access to the Maxar Standard and Premium layers as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to solving this problem together.
—Kevin Bullock (December 19, 2019) Quick update on Maxar imagery

2023 Outage

We’ve been in regular touch with them about API key rotation and other security mitigation efforts. We understand their concerns that a small number of people are using the OpenStreetMap API key to steal imagery for use for non-OpenStreetMap usage.

We have not heard much from Maxar on the current situation, but are trying to connect and resolve the issue.
— Guillaume Rischard (July 1, 2023) Maxar Imagery Not Working c.osm.org