Grab work with the OSM Thailand community (Mapathon Kick-off in BKK)

Hi All,

I’m Pimlada Veerapongwattana from Grab’s maps team and we’re planning to hold a mapathon in Thailand in July month. We’ve hosted mapathon with OpenStreetMap in Indonesia, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia. More info on these events.


We’d love to host one in Bangkok / Chiang Mai and get your support to make this event truly worthwhile for the Thai community. Some preliminary details from our end:

Num of volunteers target is 10, Venue is Grab Bangkok Office (Thanapoom Building), Focus of mapping tasks will be specified on POI in public areas like Commercial Building, Shopping Mall, Hospital, and other popular POIs in Bangkok and greater BKK areas

Looking forward to hear your suggestions on how we can make this successful

Best regards,
Pimlada / Lilian / Ajay

Hello Grab Team,

In general it is a good idea to bring people together to work on OpemStreetMap. It helps beginners to get some things right.

For such “mapathon” events I am a bit more skeptical. It all depends on how experiences your instructors are and how closely you can monitor what is getting done.

We have had dozens of examples in Thailand where people did mapping events with beginner mappers which resulted on map details which sometimes would have been better to be deleted and started over again.

Especially bad idea from my experience is to try to push people to map everything. Some POI are quite difficult to tag. The tagging scheme might not fit well. Inventing a new tagging with beginners at such an event will likely result in failed tagging.

I know the OSM community in Chiang Mai. There are certainly some experiences mappers who can guide. In Bangkok I am not aware of such community structures. But there are some mappers and they did meet in the past.

Who will be your “instructors”? Do they have enough experience with mapping? Can you point to some OSM user names?
What kind of POI do you plan to map? Have you prepared tagging hints for these POI?

Giving beginners a good understanding of OSM and especially that there are some more or less grey areas in how to tag specific features helps certainly more than planning to add thousands of POI.



I’ve been in touch with Pimlada and team, I’m happy to help be an instructor here in Bangkok.

Pimlada proposes that she wants to map potential pick up and drop off points in:

  1. Commercial Buildings: Kasikorn Thai Bank Head Office, SCB Park Plaza, SCG Head Office
  2. Shopping Malls: Central Plaza Westgate, The Promenade, Central Festival Eastville, Fashion Island
  3. Hospital: Piyavate Hospital, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital
  4. Government Places: Department of Consular Affairs, Department of Agricultural Extension

I’ve seen from the app that these are either existing taxi stands, pick up drop off points, or named after the exit i.e. Gate 7 or a descriptive name like Starbucks Exit. I’m not sure which combination of tagging schemes would be appropriate. Thoughts?

Best Regards

Hi Pimlada and Team,

Welcome and I certainly appreciate your interest and ambition. You can contribute a lot, and thanks in advance!
POI’s alone are not a map. I would like to suggest some other areas where OSM is no so good and where your work could be best spent:

  1. Any time you travel away from main roads, please record and upload GPS traces. This will help with map alignment.
  2. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are not all of Thailand. There are many large towns where roads and POI’s are absent. Consider choosing a town away from BKK. They tend to be neglected.
  3. GPS signals aren’t very good in cities and can be wrong.
  4. You can’t do better than Mishari as an instructor.
  5. Some of the best OSM mapping has been from people like you mapping a University campus.
  6. I think tagging a road name is more important than adding a 7-11.
  7. If you think a road is not drawn very well, you can fix it!

Please email me if you have any question about how to map something.

All the best, Tom Layo

As a past user of Uber, and now having been forced to change to Grab, in real life one of the major frustrations is the way that Grab insists on picking you up from the nearest place “it knows”. In contrast, Uber allowed you to submit an actual GPS based location, and would even follow you.

I assume Grab uses Google maps for locations so I’m interested in how plotting POI pickup places for Grab on OSM, will work with their app. Of course, if Grab is going to start using both OSM and Google data, then great ad I for one, would like to see the Grab mapping team provide us with feedback as to how their systems integrate with OSM, both currently, and what they plan for the future.

Pimlada & team : we would welcome one of you to come to Chiang Mai for a day and give us a talk on your projects if you have the time.

I did not use Grab in Thailand, so can’t tell, but are you certain about the map? About four years ago Grab got complaints that they used OSM without proper attribution:

Other posts state that Grab uses multiple providers which might then include OSM as well. And why improve OSM when GM would be used?
So I suppose it is OSM.

I still don’t get the point what exactly needs to be tagged. The malls, hospitals, etc mentioned above are quite large. I did not check, but would be surprised if not yet mapped.

As Tom pointed out: Street names probably make sense. At least in Bangkok downtown the streets have names. “Street xxx in front of Starbucks” or such sound like a valid description for a pick up. Or “corner Sukhumvit/Soi 61”.

Take care to add full street names. Shortening for display/rendering has to be done in software. Just mapping a short name like “Soi 1” does not help as road might be connected to two other roads. So soi 1 of which? This requires proper/full tagging.

Hi All,

Thanks a lot for all comments and recommendations from all of you who have a great experience in mapping. We are really appreciated.
As the point of mapping that we are going to focus, I would say that Grab is now doing an Entrance Project which usually seek for the best location for pick-up and drop-off passenger. As a result, we try to start mapping Entrance/Exit within a large public place (like Shopping mall or commercial building with multiple entrances). The Tagging Hints might be under “Entrance or Exit Tag” if possible.’

As discussed with K.Mishari on the general plans, we are welcome to invite all of you as well as a group of people (University Students, GrabTaxi/GrabCar Drivers, etc) who are interest in this mapping party. We think about deploying Mappillary as a basic tool cause it should be easily used in normal live. We will have a mini training on how to use a tool prior Mapping Party that will be hold in July (or August). Again on road name mapping, I totally agree that we should tag a road name/fix a missing road name. GPS trace from our GrabCar/GrabTaxi Drivers are really helpful.

@Russ MC: I am happy to go to Chiang Mai for a talk, might be next month cause I will be there for a training. For further contact, could you please provide me an email?

Thanks again for every great suggestion and welcome for other additional comments :):slight_smile:

@Stephan it’s an interesting issue, for example looking at the Grab app now, Paragon has four exits on the West:

Starbucks exit
Vanilla Brasserie
Gate 5
Gate 6

Two of the gates are known by their numbers while the other two are by their colloquial name, so the question is how do we tag this in a consistent manner?

Outside of Thailand I’ve also seen parking zone that is allocated for Uber pickup and drop off, often coming with a sign that says “Uber Drop Off Point” or similar. I’m wondering if you have any ideas on how to tag this? Ideally we can tag the exits too so that an app can parse the map of an area and give users an option of all the appropriate points for pick up and drop offs.

Perhaps this is a discussion for the Tagging list?

First: The current naming is probably not coming from OSM.
In case of “officially” signed entries, like for example on BTS/MRT stations the ref tag should be used.

Paragon, at least on their website does not number the entrances. Having them tagged with “entrance” and “level” is certainly a good idea. You might want to double check that the shops next to them are also located there and have a matching level tag.
Be aware of the numbering of level: ground floor (usually street level) is level 0, one times stairs up and you are on level 1.

It would be up to Grab to do a proper processing of the data to get the exit names into their app.
A simple algorithm could be to use the content of “ref”. Should work fine for named ones, eg BTS and such.

If no official ref, so no tag it has to come up with something else. Could be generated like “exit on ground floor next to Starbucks”, where it selects the nearest POI (from maybe a category) on the same level.

We certainly do not want to add tags specifically for Grab, Uber or similar.

If a dedicated location for them exists, then it has probably signs on the ground and can be tagged as such, using the operator key.

More likely is a generic taxi pick-up point. amenity=taxi is established.

First of all thank you for your advice, I agree that’s how tagging is to be done, except for this bit:

This is where I think it is inadequate since I think having pick up and exits tagged specifically for cars picking up passengers can be a great feature, not only for ridesharing but other utilities as well, such as schools and stadiums where it is important to manage the flow of traffic and would be useful in cases where you’ve asked your friend or family to come pick you up. Sometimes these points can be located some distance away from the exit, I was in a theme park recently where it was a tram ride away.

What I’m thinking of is something similar to the Meeting point proposed tag except for cars or Kiss and ride or even Stop area but not limited to public transport.

Any ridesharing app can be added to this quite easily with something like ride_share=yes if Ubers are allowed to stop there.