New zoom freezing feature for Geohash plugin

New zoom freezing feature for Geohash plugin

Built by Grab, the Geohash Java OpenStreetMap Editor (JOSM) plugin is widely used in map-making, but a common pain point is the inability to zoom in to a specific region without displaying new geohashes. Read to find out more about the issue and how the latest update addresses it.


Geohash is an encoding system with a unique identifier for each region on the planet. Therefore, all geohash units can be associated with an individual set of digits and letters.

Geohash is a plugin built by Grab that is available in the Java OpenStreetMap Editor (JOSM) tool, which comes in handy for those who work on precise areas based on geohash units.


Up until recently, users of the Geohash JOSM plugin were unable to stop the displaying of new geohashes with every zoom-in or zoom-out. This meant that every time they changed the zoom, new geohashes would be displayed, and this became bothersome for many users when it was unneeded. The previous behaviour of the plugin when zooming in and out is depicted in the short video below:

This led to the implementation of the zoom freeze feature, which helps users toggle between Enable zoom freeze and Disable zoom freeze, based on their needs.


As you can see in the image below, a new label was created with the purpose of freezing or unfreezing the display of new geohashes with each zoom change:

By default, this label says “Enable zoom freeze”, and when zoom freezing is enabled, the label changes to “Disable zoom freeze”.

In order to see how zoom freezing works, let’s consider the following example: a user wants to zoom inside the geohash with the code w886hu, without triggering the display of smaller geohashes inside of it. For this purpose, the user will enable the zoom freezing feature by clicking on the label, and then they will proceed with the zoom. The map will look like this:

It is apparent from the image that no new geohashes were created. Now, let’s say the user has finished what they wanted to do, and wants to go back to the “normal” geohash visualisation mode, which means disabling the zoom freeze option. After clicking on the label that now says ‘Disable zoom freeze’, new, smaller geohashes will be displayed, according to the current zoom level:

The functionality described above can also be illustrated in the following short video:

Another effect that enabling zoom freeze has is that it disables the ‘Display larger geohashes’ and ‘Display smaller geohashes’ options, since the geohashes are now fixed. The images below show how these options work before and after disabling zoom freeze:

To conclude, we believe that the release of this new feature will benefit users by making it more comfortable for them to zoom in and out of a map. By turning off the display of new geohashes when this is unwanted, map readability is improved, and this translates to a better user experience.


In order to start using this new feature, users need to update the Geohash JOSM plugin.

What’s next?

Grab has come a long way in map-making, from using open source map-making software and developing its own suite of map-making tools to contributing to the open-source map community and building and launching GrabMaps. To find out more, read How KartaCam powers GrabMaps and KartaCam delivers comprehensive, cost-effective mapping data.


KartaView 101

Karta and other variations of the word mean map in multiple languages, /kâːrta/

The year 2020 – packed with challenging events, strict circumstances, and with a tendency to redesign life as we know it. In spite of its unpredictable nature, 2020 has also marked a milestone for us, as it unveiled the long-overdue transition from OpenStreetCam to KartaView – an app that withstood a change in its aesthetic, but clearly not a change of heart.                                    

KartaView is still here for you, for the community – here to replenish the endless stream of OSM information, at a gradual but steady pace. 

How often did you find yourself editing and wished you had imagery to fall back on? Nothing beats precision mapping more than having a good quality recording from which you can extract valuable attributes. It’s even more fun when those images are recorded by you! 

If you’re eager to embark on this journey, you can grab it here for Android or iOS. Let’s do some exploring!

There are already more than 384 million images on KartaView, covering almost 8 million kilometers of road, so, obviously, getting started is easy enough that it can be done without much guidance. Throughout this blog post, we would like to sway you into making your first contribution to KartaView, whether it’s for personal or communal use. Our collection app still relies on its main functionalities, which you already know and love. 

Mounting – Invest in a good quality phone mount!

Carefully secure your phone by using an appropriate mount, to prevent imagery from being blurry or come across as shaky. Using a stable, well-positioned mount is essential for capturing top-notch street-level imagery. The phone should be as centered as possible so that attributes from both parts of the road can be captured during one ride. Use the camera preview in the app to check.

Record during good weather conditions!

Now that the phone is well mounted, let’s tap on that camera shaped icon before starting your engine. As soon as you begin, an assisted tilt will show up on the screen – it will help you straighten your phone’s position. You guessed it, it’s time to click on START! And STOP. As many times as your phone storage or microSD can take it.

Use the map to find new roads that are not yet collected. Remember: more new roads, more points!

Preview recordings

Time to Netflix and preview! Maybe there was some bad weather outside or some images got blurred. Once you finish recording, check the imagery and binge-watch your trip on fast-forward. 


You can now either upload every recording or discard unwanted ones and upload the rest, it’s entirely up to you. Your upload speed may vary depending on your Internet connection.


Once your recordings reach our server, they will go through a complex procedure that involves snapping the photos to the roads, removing Personal Identifiable Information (faces and license plates), and preparing them to be published to kartaview.org. This is also when your points are calculated – the number you see during recording is mostly a ballpark figure that can give you a general idea of how many points you’ve earned. Keep in mind that your recordings might end up in a queue – don’t worry, they’ll be processed when they’re first in line.

Unmatched pictures are available as well, and they can be recognized as small dots on the map, while zooming in. 

Editing OSM

Having high-resolution and up to date KartaView imagery is a vital source in editing OpenStreetMap. It helps you edit new features (e.g. lanes, turn restrictions, road name) in the map or validate the existing ones, especially while doing armchair mapping. This is a discussion on which we’ll emphasise in upcoming posts, fully dedicated to editing. 

In drawing things to a close, we’d like you to know that KartaView isn’t just about street-level imagery – in fact, as this field is becoming more dynamic than ever, we too try to make the most out of this progression – whether it’s indoor mapping, disaster surveying or simply embedding the coordinates of your favorite pizza place, images are key. 

Walking, driving, hiking, biking are all KartaView friendly activities that could make OpenStreetMap a better and better map for the world!

How are you using KartaView?


OpenStreetCam plugin becomes KartaView and integrates new visualisation feature

OpenStreetCam plugin becomes KartaView

Following OpenStreetCam’s transition to KartaView at the end of last year, we’re writing to announce that our plugin component will undeniably mirror these changes. The latest version integrates a new name and a matching set of icons and colors which we hope you’ll find not only aesthetically pleasing, but also convenient to work with.

Let’s not stop here, though!

Wrapped 360° photo visualisation

The current KartaView plugin is about to bring to the community some new features related to photo visualisation. Recently, the team has integrated in the tool the support for displaying wrapped 360° images and the possibility to switch between these two available formats.

Map representation and design updates 

The wrapped photos integration has been visually enhanced with the following features:

  • the purple dots represent the location of the photos, which now offer the option of visualising both photo types (wrapped and front-facing)
  • the blue dots mark the location where only front-facing imagery can be found

Moreover, this fresh plugin version now uses a cool new set of icons for illustrating the actions found in the panel in a more intuitive way.

Switch options and photo display

You can choose a favoured photo format from the preference panel by selecting it from the available options – this will have a general impact on the actions from the tool (e.g. seeing the photos of a loaded track or loading previous/next photo).

Another switching option is pressing the 360o button from the panel. It is an extremely useful feature for changing the format of the currently shown photo. As seen in the attached picture, all the previously implemented features are available on both formats, including the rendering of the corresponding detections.

This being said, we’re eager to find out how you are going to use this fresh, interesting feature. You can get in touch with us any time at geo.kartaview@grabtaxi.com and let us know what projects you’re working on – we’re always psyched to share with the world what our talented community is up to.


Hello, KartaView!

After 5 years of serving the mapping community through OpenStreetCam and over 7.6 million kilometers recorded by contributors all around the world, we’re now happy to announce a new product identity: KartaView.

As maintainers and developers of KartaView, it’s been an honor so we’re taking this opportunity to share more on what we’ve been up to recently and what contributors can expect in the near future.

But first… Why the new name?

In 2018, the OSM Foundation (OSMF) adopted a Trademark Policy discouraging names like OpenStreet-Thing. This was brought to our attention this year. In support of our good friends, we chose to embrace the name change.

Despite changing names a couple times (anyone remember OpenStreetView?) our mission has stayed consistent since the early beginning: we want to make OSM better by providing an open, collaborative repository of street imagery for the mapping community. So the imagery license, terms & conditions and privacy policy remain unchanged – we have no intention to be less open.

KartaView at Grab

As you probably know, in December 2019 the team and the project transitioned to Grab – the super-app of Southeast Asia and top contributor to OSM in the region. 

Since then, besides supporting the global mapping community we’ve been increasingly active in driving imagery collection in Southeast Asia. The region is still an under-mapped region of the world despite a population of over 650 million and we’re on a mission to improve that.

Earlier this year we partnered with local Grab drivers across 20 cities in Indonesia and Malaysia, recording a staggering 880,000 km of imagery in the span of a few months. All this data is publicly available on KartaView for everyone to use.

On the engineering side, we’ve been busy this year with significant infrastructure and pipeline improvements to support the growing platform, and while improving some things… others broke. Apologies to our active users.

Kuala Lumpur coverage, all contributed by Grab drivers

Things are starting to look better and the engineering team is active on more future-proofing, which will be rolling-out in the coming months.

What to expect now?

First, kartaview.org will be the new home for the project. In the next few days, the other pieces like the mobile apps, JOSM plugin, Github repos will be updated as well. Some external projects integrating KartaView will probably need a bit more time to update the name, so most likely we’ll spot OpenStreetCam in tools and other corners of the internet for a while.

The name change will not break any existing integration (API end-point will be maintained) and changes to the legal terms and conditions are limited to reflecting the new name.

The Road Ahead

So now you know why we have to change our name and that our mission remains the same. There’s just so much around us that is unmapped, and we’ll always be at the forefront of this community-driven mission – to make OSM richer and better through imagery.

Thank you for being a part of the journey.

KartaView team

OpenStreetCam plug-in – Search Box for detection filtering

The most recent version of the OpenStreeCam plugin contains a new feature for improving detection filtering. This option became a need due to the significant growth of sign types. Its main purpose is to increase the ease of finding data. Therefore, the signs displayed in the characteristic area are reduced.

The team has added a search box to enable users to find a specific sign by entering keywords. To make filtering more relevant, the typed words should include the category, the sign name, or a combination of these two information. As a result, the detection type area will be sorted according to the input text.

This feature also works alongside the selected value for the region.

We’ll strive to continuously improve the OpenStreeCam plugin with new features!


OpenStreetCam and ImproveOSM are moving to Grab

Following Telenav’s strategic partnership with Grab, we’re announcing that the OpenStreetCam and ImproveOSM platforms are moving to Grab! The goal of contributing to the OSM project by supporting the community with tools and data remains unchanged, and users will continue to benefit from those platforms.

  • Data and applications: The data is available to the OSM community just as before, with better latency for many.
  • Open Source: Good news, the code license is changing from LGPL to the more permissive MIT license. The imagery license will remain the same, CC BY-SA version 4.
  • Policies: The Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy were updated to reflect the project’s transition to Grab, other than that similar to the previous OpenStreetCam policies.
  • OpenStreetCam apps: The iOS and Android apps will now be published under the Grab AppStore / Google Play account – that makes no difference in contributing awesome imagery to the community! You can download and use the apps as usual.
  • Waylens: You can keep using your Waylens dashcams to contribute imagery to OpenStreetCam.

As always, we look forward to collaborating with the community members and improving OSM.


A fresh Cygnus+ version

Cygnus is a tool that helps the community improve the OSM map by comparing it with an external (local) map, and detecting differences between the two maps. The differences detected include road geometry and certain tags of interest (e.g.: ‘name’, ‘oneway’, ‘ref’, ‘maxspeed’) that are missing or have different value from OSM.

In this latest version of Cygnus, we have introduced new features and made a few overall improvements.

New Features

Minimum Way Length Distance

A new setting was added in this latest version: the minimum distance by which a way’s length in the OSM map may be extended using the external map.

Conflation setting which is defaulted to 15%. Maximum can be 50%

Extending a way’s length can be very useful where section of a road may be missing or a new road needs to be added. Existing ways will be extended when the local map has a significantly longer way (as defined by the maximum connect distance). If it is possible to connect the extended way to any new ways, this will be done automatically.

New Grouped Settings and Checkboxes

We have grouped settings for ease of use into conflation, way-related and tag-related groups.

New checkboxes were also created for adding/extending ways (to allow more refined usage), adding/changing tags and specifying a minimum lexical difference.

Conflation Results

The conflation zip file now contains a narration log detailing each change that is proposed by the conflation archive. The Cygnus+ output explains in the ‘telenav:action’ tag exactly what action was taken on each way (this same output goes into the narration log).


The conflation algorithm was improved and also the readability of parameters on jobs in the queue.

We hope you benefit from those changes, and let us know if you have any questions or ideas for further improvements.


An ImproveOSM editor update

When we first released ImproveOSM, the Telenav initiative to share millions of potential missing road, turn restriction and one-way locations based on massive anonymized GPS signals from drivers, we also launched a custom editor based on iD.

The ImproveOSM editor, based on iD.

The editor provided an easy way to inspect ImproveOSM data and make OSM edits based on it.

Since then, we have worked hard to build out the functionality of the ImproveOSM JOSM plugin, and worked with the iD team to integrate ImproveOSM into the main OSM web editor.

OpenStreetMap’s built-in iD editor with ImproveOSM layer

These developments have made the custom editor obsolete, and we have decided to take it offline.

If you are interested in using ImproveOSM data to edit OpenStreetMap, please check out our JOSM plugin or select the ImproveOSM overlay in iD. You can also download the raw data from our ImproveOSM web site.

Thanks for using ImproveOSM and making OpenStreetMap better!


US metro OpenStreetCam competition

We decided to celebrate summer and the great driving weather that comes alongside it by launching a new OpenStreetCam competition! If you live in or happen to be nearby Miami, Los Angeles, Houston or Chicago, this is your chance to participate!

The kick-off date is June 12. Buckle up!

Competition guidelines

  • Download the free / open source OpenStreetCam app for Android or iOS.
  • Collect as many OpenStreetCam points as you can until August 12, 23:59 Eastern time. Every image uploaded gets you points, with more points awarded for roads that are being covered for the first time or that have been surveyed infrequently.
  • We will announce the winners on the 13th of August.
  • The top contributors will win an OpenStreetCam enhanced Waylens Horizon dashcam.
  • We will give out one dashcam per city to our top contributors.
  • Two runner ups will receive a $100 Amazon gift card.
  • You need to gather at least 500K points to be eligible to win the dash cam.
  • It costs nothing to compete.
  • Only the points collected between June 12 – August 12 are taken into account.
  • Points collected with Waylens dashcams are not eligible.

If you’re looking for additional insight, refer to the FAQ below:

  • How will I know my rank in the leaderboards?

We will post weekly updates on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you check them once in while.

  • How can I earn more points?

Go to https://openstreetcam.org and check out where the magenta lines are missing. Those areas will guarantee the highest return. 

  • I’m getting errors trying to install the app, record or upload.

Send us an e-mail at hello@openstreetcam.org and we’ll provide support and troubleshooting ASAP.

  • Does your app provide routing?


  • Can I use an OBD-II dongle?

You sure can, if you have one to spare. It’s going to enable the 2X multiplier per each kilometer collected.

  • Can I record with a dashcam?

Of course, you have our full support, as long as the data is under the form of geotagged JPEGs. You can upload the data collected via our script.

  • I signed up via OSM, how will you contact me?

Please send us a message on Facebook or drop an e-mail at hello@openstreetcam.org.

We reserve the right to disqualify contributors for cheating by uploading useless / blurry / dark images or duplicating existing data from multiple devices on the same account.

Contenders will need to opt in and supply an e-mail address in order for us to contact the winners.

Drive safe!


OpenStreetCam – Confidence level visualization

The OpenStreetCam plug-in has once again brought a new feature to help its users. It now allows displaying and filtering aggregated detections based on their confidence level. The confidence level represents a measure of confidence of the validity of the detection or aggregated detection.

New aggregated detections display

Aggregated detections can now be displayed using a confidence level based color code. This is an optional behavior that can be turned on in the plug-in preference settings by selecting the following preference:

If selected, each aggregated detection will be displayed with a border of the corresponding color, according to the legend table displayed under the check-box.

Map display based on confidence level:

If the checkbox is not selected, all aggregated detections are displayed with a white border.

Confidence level filtering

With the introduction of the confidence level attribute, a new form of filtering was added. Filter data now allows setting a value for minimum and/or maximum confidence level. When set, only the aggregated detections with the appropriate confidence level will be displayed.

The confidence level minimum and maximum must be values between 0 and 1.