This past week The Economist published an article, “The battle for territory in digital cartography” by Hal Hodson, discussing how companies like Mapbox and Mapillary are using community powered data from OpenStreetMap, crowdsourced imagery, and anonymous real time GPS location data gathering from smartphones to compete with the likes of Google in the quest to develop autonomous vehicles.
Needless to say, I’m absolutely thrilled to see how my work at Mapbox, building the anonymous real time GPS location data gathering technology in the Mapbox iOS and Android SDKs, continues to power Mapbox’s business today (Directions, Mapbox Drive, Maps, etc) as well as set the company up for future success. In addition to this, two major things that I’m also very proud of in regards to this work are that fact the data is collected anonymously and that it’s shared openly. Unlike many other tech companies, Mapbox has no way to tie collected location data to specific and named people. This was done on purpose. This focus on privacy not only helps people feel safe using the technology, but also allows Mapbox to publish / donate this location data to OpenStreetMap so that everyone can benefit with the latest in map data collected from the real world.