Maxar imagery not working (was "Maxar is blurred in ID" and other similar topics)

I think a lot of editors - including yours truly - would try to assist the Foundation and Maxar to find a solution which lets editors use the imagery and the same time stops nonconforming retrieval.

Personal keys sound like a good way to stop abuse but it shall be done carefully not to do it in a way which would make it prohibitively hard for editors to get keys (say, editors with a normal amount of edits would get a key, or an automgically retrievable yearly key, and both parties would promise to help investigating disabled keys and reenable false positives).

Also requires some common sense not to flag “abuse” those editors who scroll more than average but do not abuse the service. (For example it could have been me when mapping rivers in Siberia; but I did it consistently with JOSM useragent and a stable IP, among other things).

I support Maxar in protecting their own interests while they would support OSM community, and I really trust the Foundation to keep communicating with them and try to reach an optimal point where both parties are happy.

I have used their imagery where it was important that it is fresher than 4-5 years. (My government would rather eat or burn the images instead of offering it for free. We have theoretically freely available 10+ years of imagery. Useful only to establish reference points.)


A lot of the suggestions seem to suppose we can work with Maxar and they’ll respond to us. Past experience has shown this is often not the case, and there’s nothing we can do about it. The OSMF has the best chance of getting a response, but they can’t force one.


In my experience with such large data owners is that it requires a dedicated person to keep searching someone there who supports the case from inside, then in cooperation with them search the person who can repeatedly ask the legal team not to drop the case and go for yet another coffee break but try to suggest a workable solution.

[In my experience] it is usually a failure if someone thinks such things can be done by sending one email to a random address and expect them to offer their valuable resources for free just because we asked.

[Unless someone really knows someone there… - ] It definitely requires a reliable, trustworthy organisation (like the OSMF) to make the request. Sometimes it takes a personal meeting, or even several, to convince them that they do not lose value by the process and that OSMF really positively try to protect their intellectual property while using their valued contribution to make a freely available global resource to advance, and also that their name will be attached to all the edits people are creating using their resources, and also OSM lists them as Big Sponsors on the wiki and possibly elsewhere.

(I am rather sure that OSMF and various people from the OSM community already have contacts with Digitalglobe/Maxar, and it may be useful to collect these people and try to organise this. Sat imagery is extremely useful for OSM editors, and if it is done properly it does not harm the business of Maxar; it is worth the time and energy spent on it doing right.)


Apologies for coming to this thread late. Mapbox has a longstanding relationship with Maxar and we’re happy to make some inquiries to see if we can get this issue unstuck.

In the meantime, I will note that Maxar is a major input to Mapbox imagery, and that our terms allow tracing our imagery for mapping in OpenStreetMap. We make that layer available for free within the iD and JOSM editors, so if folks are looking for an alternative and haven’t given us a try, please consider it.


As earlier stated there are often dependencies in the available image layers.There are regions where Maxar has been similar to Bing or Mapbox. I usually have a short look at all image layers after downloading a new area. But there were some regions where “Maxar premium images” was definitely many years ahead of the others. That’s the reason for concerns here.

Of course any help leading to more accurate and actual data is welcome.


With reference to the earlier images from Bing (Maxar imagery not working (was "Maxar is blurred in ID" and other similar topics) - #41 by ftcat), while not as clear, Mapbox at least shows the earthworks and access road for the development that appeared in Maxar and was mapped. It will be a major blow to mapping in developing countries particularly where HOT projects may be mapping out of date features or where other project mappers, such as those with Apple and Tom Tom who occasionally pass through, change or delete features based on out of date imagery. I have experienced this myself where a mapper mapping for Apple deleted an entire road network I had added from GPS data.

Could you tell us, or suggest Mapbox to implement, if possible, a method to devise/indicate how old the imagery is?

I usually try to compare various sources (bing, esri, maxar [used to], mapbox) and try to figure out who has the newest (and least distorted) source.

Most providers use a timestamped attribution, which is more, or usually less indicate the age of the imagery, and it is clearly visible in JOSM (and elsewhere). Mapbox source do not seem to have an attribution and there is no date of image either.

In my experience Mapbox imagery usually overlaps with Bing, and often have less “visual” resolution, either by having really lower resolution or using a blur/sharpen combo resulting less visually sharp imagery to draw from.

(It may be also useful (and possibly proper for attribution) to know what the image source was, which may be related to its quality. But this may depend on the license details Mapbox has.)

As a slightly unrelated note I wonder what amount of abuse Mapbox see related to OSM keys?


I have just done a quick comparison of BIng, Mapbox and Esri World Imagery over parts of Lusaka. Around the peripheries of Lusaka it is quite easy to see the differences as new developments appear or disappear as you move between the imagery. Within the centre of the city it is not so easy as there is less new development but what development there has been is easier to date. Generally Esri is more up to date than either of the other 2 with Mapbox being the most out of date by many years. A check on tile info with Bing gives a range of 1/9/2018 to 9/25/2021 for metadata capture, I presume this means the imagery can be out of date by up to 5 years. One way of getting a fairly accurate date on the Bing imagery is to look at a newly constructed flyover along the Great East Road, there have been a number of them but 1 in particular was officially opened just before elections in August 2021 and this appears in the Bing and Esri imagery open and in use, in Mapbox imagery only very early earthworks on one end of the flyover is shown. Further along the Great East Road there is a large new conference centre that was opened last year, this appears complete in the Esri imagery and partially complete in the Bing imagery and does not appear at all in the Mapbox imagery. I have seen similar differences in the outskirts of Lusaka but the Esri imagery is not as clear in these areas.

Over more remote areas, such as the development near Mwinilunga I previously highlighted in earlier posts Esri is the most up to date next is Mapbox and Bing metadata capture date is given as 5/19/2012-6/18/2014.


Thanks for the link. While it is interesting to see the changes in Lusaka it is also very depressing to see the deforestation over time in other parts of Zambia.

left click shows

some other places have local imagery made by the government (yearly), because they give them as open data, showing depends on the zoomlevel.

What a pity. It was a GREAT ressource. By pure luck I JUST happened to finish identifying and positioning all buildings in North East Greenland National Park late june. Could not have pinpointed a single one without.

Riverbeds were next to go. Now a no-go…

As you can see above Esri World Imagery use Maxar too, so in lot of places it is the same as Maxar own service. Esri try to get the best imagery possible on a location. All kind of sources.

Have a look at Esri World Imagery.

It’s of course good practice to have from time to time a look at all available image sources.
But nevertheless Maxar was in some regions the most recent source by several years.


Look here: Only Maxar Premium allowed me to map everything including grave monuments here: OpenStreetMap

The same is true for some 300 other cabins, huts, and ruins of such…

Or what about this airstrip? OpenStreetMap The navigation aids are single white painted drums. Easily seen on Maxar Premium…

The mapped area is this Northeast Greenland National Park - Wikipedia

You have a point … it is not Premium detail.

But fully agree with your post. This clearly shows the added value of an organisation like the OSMF.

For me Maxar was my one and only imagery source . Sad to see it go.

It was high resolution, more recent with barely any offsets unlike the other providers.


We hope Maxar imagery to back, if it requires a license fee, we can have a crowdfunding that funds delicated to pay this fee, and cost of other expense of osm operation of excess the necessary for license fee.

I guess it would be a few magnitudes more expensive as you would guess. That’s not the right direction for a nonprofit project.