Malaysia/Data Sources

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This page is, more or less, the elaboration from what has been told in the data source section on the main project 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.

Also, respect copyrights: which means, please don't copy from sources that explicitly mention it.

Permitted tracing layer

For iD users, here's how to change these.

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

Available directly in every editor

  • Maxar Premium and Standard (Beta)
    • As a precaution, compare and contrast between all available imageries to get the rough idea. Some places may have quite the latest imageries probably from 3-6 months ago.
    • Very important: check its offset, especially those near uneven surfaces (hills, mountains, slopes, etc).
  • Esri World Imagery and Clarity (Beta)
    • A combination of many different imagery sources. Refer more about it.
  • Bing imagery
    • The default imagery in iD editor.
    • Check its offset too sometimes!
    • As a good practice, please include the source=Bing tag.
    • A note about Bing: only the plain satellite layer (imagery) is allowed to be traced into OpenStreetMap. Any geographical names taken from Bing Maps is totally not allowed to be copied into OpenStreetMap!
  • Digital Globe satellite imagery (via Mapbox)
    • For some places, it might be similar to DigitalGlobe's layers. For most of the places, there might be greyscale imagery up to zoom level 17 only (believed to be from around early 2010s).
    • source=Mapbox or source=digitalglobe tags can be put up.

Custom imageries

  • 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.
  • Sentinel-2
    • Copernicus Sentinel-2 imageries that are available worldwide. Open, libre and allowed to be used to further improve OpenStreetMap.
    • It may be hard to get access to high-resolution imagery, though.
    • Ask around the community to getting help obtaining the latest imagery.


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!

Geotagged photo

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

GPS tracks

Public GPS traces on itself, can be really useful for tracing. It acts as a supplementary data, if not it's the only available data to be used for mapping. These can be used to align the provided aerial imagery. Things on the imagery may be displaced away from the their own real position.


ImproveOSM (Browser-based tool, also available as a JOSM Plugin) is provided by Telenav. Some places might have GPS tracks that might hint to unmapped roads - or could be useful to align the aerial imagery; where both Strava heatmap and upload GPS traces is absent.

On top of that, ImproveOSM has another tool to determine whether a highway is unidirectional or not and detecting turn restrictions.

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.
    • This is not Geonames!

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.

Take note that viral photos or videos propagated on various social media has copyrights (they belonged to the service providers). If you managed to locate the actual uploader, ask for their permissions first. If your wish is granted, consider giving a proper attribution towards the uploader.

Complimentary tools

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

Don't use these!

You have been warned (JOSM)
You have been warned, as well (iD)

   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[8]. But, again, the datasets can be used as a list of things to be surveyed. Mapping party, anyone?