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Mappers and humanitarian activists will use MAPS.ME’s open sourcing to improve OpenStreetMap and to facilitate relief efforts
SAN FRANCISCO–Mail.Ru Group will open the source code of its MAPS.ME application, the largest free mobile mapping app using OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, in an announcement made at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in San Francisco. The app, which has more than 25 million downloads worldwide and allows maps to be downloaded so they are accessible both on and offline, will now allow other developers to embed free maps into their mobile products. MAPS.ME’s code will also be available under the Apache 2.0 license, which means free usage for users, even when being used for commercial purposes. Additionally, MAPS.ME will be used by humanitarian groups, activists and volunteers in rural areas of disaster zones and political crises. Typically in these areas there is no sustainable internet, and other mapping services do not provide necessary geographical data.
“We are happy to share our vision of open and free software available for communities around the globe. The whole team at MAPS.ME appreciates the opportunity to contribute in HOT’s humanitarian missions and help to serve in areas of disasters and political crises”
In coordination with OSM, a project dedicated to providing crowdsourced mapped data of the world, opening MAPS.ME’s source code is an important step in changing the ecosystem of the development of mapping apps. OSM was created to be updated by editors like Wikipedia articles; users can edit maps, add towns, roads, locations and points of interest. This database is constantly updated by a global community of enthusiasts that has grown exponentially to 2 million members. This crowdsourced model combined with the open sourced MAPS.ME app allows for the most detailed and up-to-date maps available.
Fast-updating maps are crucial in areas of humanitarian aid, especially in rural areas and lesser mapped countries. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is constantly working to encourage people to update OSM in these areas. Efforts like Missing Maps’ events prepare maps for printing and uploading to GPS devices by using volunteers in the field. The open-sourced MAPS.ME application now is included into these volunteer’s toolset, and HOT members can not only install the app for doctors and aid workers, reducing the need to teach them how to use it, but also provide people with the most updated maps. Open source means users can tailor the app to their needs, for example, adjusting the map style so important elements like fresh water taps and refugee camps are immediately visible.
“MAPS.ME‘s decision means that people around the world will now have access to a professionally developed, cross-platform code base that they can freely work with, and that can be customized and remixed into tools of all sorts,” said Blake Girardot, Volunteer Mapper and Member of the Board of Directors, HOT. “The ability to tailor an application means that we can make sure we are presenting or collecting our data in the most efficient way possible for the communities we serve. We will benefit directly from MAPS.ME‘s decision to open source their applications, and have already started planning for how we can provide our humanitarian focused geographic data and maps for use in the MAPS.ME application.”
“We are happy to share our vision of open and free software available for communities around the globe. The whole team at MAPS.ME appreciates the opportunity to contribute in HOT’s humanitarian missions and help to serve in areas of disasters and political crises,” said Yury Melnichek, Head of Maps Business Unit, Mail.Ru Group. “Opening MAPS.ME is an important step not just for us, but for the whole free mapping community, as OSM will become even more accessible for a wider audience, which, I hope, will attract new editors to join this outstanding movement.”
MAPS.ME is an award-winning mapping and navigation app based on the crowdsourced OpenStreetMap project. Available on iOS, Android and Apple Watch, it includes detailed maps of all countries in the world, as well as search, geolocation and routing features – all of which can be easily downloaded for offline use. The first version of MAPS.ME was released in 2011. Mail.Ru Group acquired the service in late 2014, making the app free. Since its acquisition MAPS.ME has grown to more than 25 million installs.
About Mail.Ru Group
Mail.Ru Group (LSE:MAIL, listed since November 5, 2010) is a leading company in the Russian-speaking Internet markets (Russia is Europe’s largest Internet market measured by the number of users, comScore). Mail.Ru Group’s sites reach approximately 96% of Russian Internet users on a monthly basis (comScore, June 2015) and the Company is the sixth largest Internet business globally, based on the total time spent (comScore, June 2015).
In line with the ‘communitainment’ (communication plus entertainment) strategy, the Company is moving rapidly to build an integrated communications and entertainment platform. The Company owns Russia’s leading email service and one of Russia’s largest internet portals, Mail.Ru (TNS, all Russia, age 12-64, June 2015); three major Russian language social networks, Vkontakte (VK), Odnoklassniki (OK.RU) and Moi Mir (My World); and Russia’s largest online games business. Our portfolio also includes a leading OpenStreetMap-based offline mobile maps and navigation service MAPS.ME and two instant messaging (IM) services, Mail.Ru Agent and ICQ, popular in Russia and CIS.
The Company holds an equity stake in Qiwi (1.31%). The Company also holds a number of small venture capital investments in various Internet companies in Russia, Ukraine and Israel. In November 2013, The Company launched My.com in the US and later globally to provide communication and entertainment products and services in non-Russian speaking countries.
My.com is a subsidiary of Mail.Ru Group, the sixth largest Internet business globally, based on the total time spent (comScore, June 2015), that is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:MAIL, listed since November 5, 2010). My.com‘s vision is to build an integrated communication and entertainment platform, dubbed ‘Communitainment,’ beginning with a family of mobile apps and games, and most recently, expanding to PC games bringing immersive, massively multiplayer online experiences to the masses.