Could Someone Give me Advice on Efficiently Mapping Large Rural Areas?

Hello there,

I am relatively new to Mapillary and I am looking for some advice on how to efficiently map large rural areas. I have a project in mind to document the scenic and less traveled roads in my region; which is predominantly rural with long stretches of unpaved roads; forests; and some hilly terrain.

What kind of camera setup would be most suitable for capturing high-quality images in these conditions? I have read about different 360 degree cameras; action cameras; and even using smartphones. I am curious about your experiences and what you would recommend for this type of project.

Since a lot of the roads are rough and unpaved; what are the best mounting solutions to ensure the camera remains stable and secure?

How do you manage the workflow from capturing images to uploading them to Mapillary? Any software tools or methods that help streamline the process would be very helpful.

Additionally; what is the best way to handle large amounts of data; considering the extended duration of my mapping sessions?

Also, I have gone through this post: which definitely helped me out a lot.

Given that I will be spending long hours on the road; how do you manage battery life and storage capacity? Are there any portable power solutions or high capacity storage options you find particularly useful?

Thankyou in advance for your help and assistance.

Let’s start with your objective: is it to document road infrastructure, and then improve OSM based on that data? Or is it general imagery collection to get an area represented on a photo map?

If the former, your focus would be on capturing the road straight ahead and traffic signs. If the latter, then I guess you’d need to control camera direction to capture what you think is nicer.

Action cameras are quite good in that they are not very expensive, some have GPS, and are easy to mount eg on a vehicle. You might need to process images if it doesn’t have GPS though. Image quality is usually quite good. Good option for road-oriented capture.

360 cameras are good at capturing the overall scene, but most severely lack detail. They are also more expensive, and would be harder to mount securely.

Capturing with a smartphone is easiest, but you may have issues if it doesn’t have image stabilisation on rough roads.
Software tools are all basically provided by mapillary, being the desktop uploader - you can find an article on it on the mapillary website. If you capture video it will take some more processing time and effort.

Large amounts of data will require storage. If you capture eg timelapse images, it will be easier as won’t require as much storage as eg video. 360 imagery takes up more space.

Battery life - best to have the camera plugged in and battery taken out, if possible, to avoid overheating. Otherwise have spare batteries ready.

Also, funky username, and I see you are a moderator already, peculiar

@system Most of my data capture has in fact been rural Australia. My OSM Diary has a few snippets that might be useful.

One rather large problem is that mapping features can be some distance apart, so I have a georeferenced audio/notes system that I derive from the BlackVue dashcam mp4. That saves polling through hundreds of frames or movies to find a small number of features.

I didn’t find rough roads to be a huge problem with the standard adhesive window mount. I would guess that comes from such a wide field of view and 4K. Cameras have of course improved since I started in 2019.

Rural areas allow a slower photo rate capture, but having some facility to increase that whilst driving might be handy.

Think about getting a polarising filter for the camera(s). It helps reduce glare.

If you are live capturing (rather than end of day) WiFi is not a good idea. All Android phones for example allow USB tethering, but older versions have a fixed IP address. That means only one phone per PC/laptop.

If you choose to go for a front facing camera, an additional side facing one that cuts in at lower speeds is very handy. I actually use the front facing BlackVue, a side facing Toshiba phone (no SIM) and side/rear Logitech webcam. I have often been surprised by one camera complementing or completing the data for another. Although “rural” with few features, just slowing down starts the capture of anything interesting that I see.

I upload at the end of every day if I am in reasonable cell range. I use the mapillary_tools for that having done some rough edits beforehand. I also create a daily action set so I can OSM edit whilst fresh in my mind. I may have a few OSM edit days queued up though depending on feature density and cell availability.

My cameras run off the secondary/house battery, 2 via a Linux laptop. I WiFi link to the BlackVue every end of day to download the take, that could be 5-10GBytes. I live on road, so have a solar/diesel charging system. Laptops generally are made to handle some bouncing around and an SD rather than magnetic drive is more tolerant of that. Mounted on the passenger seat also provides some shock attenuation. I also use USB connected (2TB/4TB) drives, but not whilst moving. I assume data loss or storage device failure will happen, so I try to keep 2 or more data copies on separate devices until images have been uploaded.

Hope this helps.

1 Like