Esri imagery - big time jump when zooming?

The newly available Esri imagery is very nice. I tried it in iD and the quality is much better than I’ve seen with other aerial imagery available to OSM editors.

The one problem I’m having is that sometimes visible features change a lot at different zoom levels. Based on local knowledge, some recent construction (1-3 years old) appears at lower zoom levels, but when I zoom in it all disappears. It can be quite confusing to zoom in on a building and parking lot to edit there, only for it all to vanish and be replaced by trees or a vacant dirt lot.

I think I understand the reason - that Esri is providing 2 different data sources, one for higher resolution and one lower. Is this correct? And I suppose at least in my areas the higher resolution imagery is much older.

I’ve never seen this behavior before with other iD imagery sources.

There is a fundamental difference between those other sources and the imagery from ESRI: ESRI provides imagery from many different sources (in the hundreds, if I recall well), as made available by companies and government institutions at different levels of government (country, state, municipality). In fact, anybody who has imagery or other data they wish to share, can contribute to ESRI’s base layer.

As a consequence, the imagery will vary widely between areas, but should generally offer you the best available (or most recent) for any given zoomlevel.

So some of the data is satellite imagery, other data is from much higher resolution aerial imagery, generally on a more local scale, e.g. supplied by a specific municipality. Some of the data may be fully rectified ortho-imagery, other imagery not.

Contrary to this, most other data layers in the OSM editors are from a single (satellite) source, and hence more uniform, but not necessarily better because of this!

Thanks for the helpful explanation.

I know this has been discussed elsewhere, and it is apparently a very difficult problem, but it is too bad there is no easy way to see the date of specific imagery or image tiles. I’m sure there have been cases - and will be more - where people modified correct features to match outdated imagery, and I think having older imagery when zoomed it will make this kind of error more likely.