Home sales and lot purchases depend on the right maps and cartography. Start ups are recognizing the importance of mapping for many industries and trying to advance the right solutions.

FOR AT LEAST one startup, 2018 opened with a thud. On Tuesday, the open source mapping company Mapzen announced it would shut down at the end of the month, with its hosted APIs and support services going dark on February 1.

That’s a real pain for Mapzen users, whose ranks include civic tech organizations like Code for America, app developers, and government agencies like the Portland-area transportation agency TriMet. And it’s a bummer for those who contributed to Mapzen’s wide-ranging data sets, which included detailed info on public transportation.

While Mapzen's products are built on openly licensed data from OpenStreetMap, it adds valuable software tools to the mix for those who don't know how to build their own or don't have the time.MAPZEN
The good news is that, in some ways, Mapzen's founders built it to fail. “Part of the rules with Mapzen is that everything is open source and we only deal with open data,” says CEO Randy Meech. “Luckily, we’re staffed to help people stand things up on their own.” Users now have T minus 28 days to grab the info they need (or get Mapzen’s help to do it) and upload it to their own data portals, keeping it free and accessible.

In a statement, TriMet spokesperson Tia York said the company's closure would have “no negative impact” on its ongoing, federally-funded project that used Mapzen’s Pelias Geocoder to help convert postal addresses to a point on the Earth’s map. “The Pelias Geocoder is open source software, with a significant community; therefore worldwide use of, improvements to, and maintenance of Pelias is expected to flourish as an open source project,” York said.

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