Mapzen open-source mapping project revived under the Urban Computing Foundation

The orphaned Mapzen project, which is used in many mapping programs, has now found a new home with the Urban Computing Foundation.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

The Mapzen open-source mapping platform has a hard history. On the one hand, Mapzen, which is based on OpenStreetMap, is used by over 70,000 developers and it's the backbone of such mapping services as , Remix and Carto. But, as a business, Mapzen failed in 2018. Mapzen's code and service lived on as a Linux Foundation Project. 

Now, it's moved on to the Urban Computing Foundation (UCF), another Linux Foundation group with more resources. UCF is devoted to helping create smarter cities, multimodal transportation, and autonomous vehicles.

In the UCF, Mapzen will have the support of such members like Facebook, Google, and Uber. There, its developers can collaborate on and build a common set of open-source tools connecting cities, autonomous vehicles, and smart infrastructure. 
It joins the existing UCF project Kepler.gl, an open-source geospatial analysis tool for Big Data. 
Mapzen is made up of several MIT-licensed projects. These include real-time search, rendering, navigation, and data. These include:  

  • Pelias: Distributed full-text geographic search engine
  • Tangram: Libraries for rendering 2D and 3D maps with WebGL/OpenGL ES and vector tiles
  • Tilezen: Libraries to generate vector tiles for global map display
  • Transitland: Community-edited data service aggregating transit networks across metropolitan and rural areas around the world
  • Valhalla: Global, multi-modal routing engine for turn-by-turn navigation services
  • Who's on First: Gazetteer or a big list of places, each with a stable identifier and descriptive properties

"We are extremely excited to welcome the Mapzen family of projects to the Urban Computing Foundation," said Travis Gorkin, Uber's engineering manager of data visualization. This move "represents a great step forward in expanding the ecosystem of open-source urban computing software and tools," he added.

It's also good news for all the many mapping services, which has relied on Mapzen, and for all the future transportation and mobility applications that will lean on it in the future.

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