WikiProject Malaysia/Data Sources

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

This page is, more or less, the elaboration from what has been told in the data source section on the main WikiProject page and also from the other articles in this Wiki. Furthermore, the details about satellite coverage over Malaysia (with some related tools) and other potential data source will also be discussed.

Again, adding things into OpenStreetMap should be coming from your knowledge, be it through daily commute to work (or school), balik kampung journeys or during leisure holidays, outdoor activities e.g. cycling or running, and might be from mapping parties. Read more about tagging sources.

Permitted tracing layer

These are the satellite imageries which is available as a tracing layer:

  • Bing imagery
    • This Relation relation (1903784) (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) shows current coverage area with excellent high resolution, full colour satellite (up to level 19) imagery offered by Microsoft's Bing.
    • Another useful tool, the Bing Coverage Analyzer(wiki here) can be used to know the age of a certain area of a satellite imagery.
    • In short, a few spots have somewhat recent imageries (e.g. from 2013, at high zoom levels). For example, Klang Valley have high zoom level imageries, but they are from 2011 or 2012. Half of the Penang island has imageries from 2008 (the rest of Penang has the ones captured in October 2013).
    • To be honest, some key places do not even have high zoom level imageries, so it is quite hit-and-miss.
    • It is not recommended to blindly trace things from an outdated satellite imagery layer. The best way to deal with this is to go mapping outside!
    • As a good practice, please include the source=Bing tag.
  • Digital Globe satellite imagery (via Mapbox)
    • For Greater Klang Valley, Ipoh, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu mappers, please use Mapbox satellite - more recent imagery (than Bing) is available.
    • Johor Bahru mappers can also benefit from Mapbox satellite as well. There's colour imageries up to zoom level 18 (from 2012).
    • For some places, it might be the same with Bing's. For most of the places, it's greyscale imagery up to zoom level 17 only (believed to be from around 2011). The rest might not have a decent ones at all. At least one may send a request for a fresh imagery at a certain area.
    • Can be a relief for most of the places without Bing imagery coverage. Well, half a loaf is better than none.
    • source=Mapbox or source=digitalglobe tags can be put up.
  • DigitalGlobe Premium and Standard
    • Colour imagery! Still, some places might have imagery taken between last year, probably up to a few years ago. Very important: check its offset, especially those near uneven surfaces (hills, mountains, slopes, etc).
    • This link may give some hint (for the DigitalGlobe Standard layer) about what year of a certain imagery shot is from.
  • OpenAerialMap (OAM)
    • OAM shows what is available from Landsat (up to zoom level 13) or even (donated) drone imagery - if there's someone kind enough to do it! OpenAerialMap
    • The only alternative for imagery blind spots. At least one could trace major highways or waterways.
  •'s Bakun Reservoir imagery
    • Landsat 8 from 2011. Ask help if you have problems to load custom TMS imagery.

Logging Roads campaign

This is an initiative between Moabi, the European Commission and Global Forest Watch. There's a campaign to map "information related to logging activities" - read more on the campaign page. A special iD editor is provided with links to Landsat 8 imageries from 2014, 2015 and 2016 - but in a different spectrum, emphasising more on vegetation.

Geotagged photo

Besides these, one can use data from Mapillary. Mapillary photos can be used to add things into the map. It is the alternative for Google Street View (don't use this to add map data).

GPS tracks

Supplementary data that can be really useful for tracing is:

These can be used to align the provided aerial imagery. Things on the imagery may be displaced away from the their own real position.

Strava heat maps and Slide tool

Strava provided a special iD editor and a nice Slide tool. See it in action. Automated tracing but in areas with better data, its output is quite accurate and possibly a time saver.

Other sources

Public domain database or out-of-copyright maps can be a possible source, such as:

  • Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
  • GEOnet Names Server
    • A database of names of places and geographical features from the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and U.S. Board on Geographic Names. A member of Mapbox Data Team wrote a guideline on how to use this, so please read his diary first. Get some help from experienced users on how to make use this database in the iD Editor, for example. But please, please, please DO NOT make a blind import. Consider some common sense because e.g. some place names are really misplaced from where they are in reality or are incorrectly spelled.

Possible data source?

Let the community know (in the forums). Otherwise, send an e-mail to the Licensing Working Group to know whether a certain data source can be added into OpenStreetMap.

Complimentary tools

Warning: these are meant as planning tools (i.e. to do future surveys in a place without a decent satellite imagery) - this not an excuse to copy stuff from Google and/or other map providers.

Don't use these!

Do not freely copy things from these:

The OpenStreetMap community would love to avoid any copyright violations. This should be a kind reminder why OpenStreetMap contributors may not freely copy things from copyrighted maps. The maps are free as in someone's buying you food for lunch, but not as free as in freedom. Also, this piece of opinion further describes the reasons why we should not simply copy things.

But, in terms of planning to do a survey, feel free to use them – remember, no copying stuff afterwards!

Malaysia Government's Open Data Portal

The terms and conditions mention that every third party app must provide a specific attribution – see section 3. In short, license incompatibility - this was the result of some discussion on the Legal Mailing List[5]. But, again, the datasets can be used as a list of things to be surveyed. Mapping party, anyone?


  1. OpenStreetMap Help
  2. Waze Terms of Service, under the Use Restrictions segment
  3. personal use only, not compatible with OpenStreetMap's license
  4. strictly non-commercial, thus, license incompatibility
  5. [OSM-legal-talk] Use of data from the Malaysian government Open Data portal