Mapillary – wait, what?

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, but now we’re back with a new post. I will tell you why the lack of updates, but first a little context.

I currently work for a startup called Mapillary. In short Mapillary allows anyone, with any camera, to create a seamless street-view experience. Not only that, but using computer vision, it scans the images for features and creates map data out of it. For instance, when it sees a traffic sign, it labels it as such, then creates an actual lat-lon point of it on the world map. You can buy this automatically extracted data. If you don’t know why this is useful, then map data subscription is most likely not for you. (Big companies, like the googles and apples have this information as well, but they’re on a different agenda and they don’t sell licenses for this data.)

OpenStreetMap (or OSM, for short), the Wikipedia for maps, allows anyone to edit the world map. You can plug Mapillary into OSM and you then can do map editing and check what’s on the ground. If you don’t have fresh imagery on the ground you can always go out and capture it yourself. Here is a good article on this.

For the most of you Mapillary is just a name, for me, it’s something else.

Back in April, 2018, I was at a company retreat event with Mapillary. We have our own way of doing these, what we call, offsites, but back at this particular event there was a workshop. It was held by Sandy, where she’s asked a couple of questions, then we shared our answers on post-it notes. (There was even some clustering involved at the end of this group exercise!) I thought maybe I should post some of my answers on my blog, because this ultimately is my testament.

Why do we exist?

To disrupt. Mapillary wants to disrupt some of the mapping industry. The industry doesn’t work well, map data updates are way too manual and tedious process, asset inventory in cities is a problem, big companies are keeping the data to themselves, anyway, there is not a good and simple solution, and so we’re building that.

What makes us different from our competitors?

Because we make it simple. We’re working with hard concepts, the whole Machine Learning/Computer Vision concepts are just crazy hard to even understand, yet, to make a simple product out of it that anyone can easily use?

Why do you work for Mapillary?

Because my job is not done yet. We’re not there yet. It’s not as simple and delightful as we (I) want it to be. There is still so much we need to do.

And this is exactly why I don’t have time to update this blog. Even though I would have so many topics I’d like to discuss, so many podcasts I want to create, so many Apple products I’d like to write about. Everything is just infinitely unimportant when I put it in context, because I want to solve Mapillary. This name you’ve probably never heard of, this one in a million random startup, where I’m just your average product designer.

Yet, even though I’ve been here for 3,5 years, I often feel like this is something that is only getting started.