360° Street-level Photos: A Journey to Resilient Cities in Tanzania using Mapillary and OpenStreetMap.

OpenMap Development Tanzania
4 min readJun 14, 2024


Written by Iddy Chazua & Innocent Maholi

Dar es Salaam, the economic core of Tanzania, is contending with the pressures of extraordinary expansion with an estimated population of around 7.6 million (World Population Review, 2024), and an urbanization rate exceeding 8% annually (International Labour Organization, 2023). This rapid influx, however, has outpaced urban planning efforts leaving the city struggling to keep pace with the demand for housing, leading to a significant increase in unplanned settlements (UN-Habitat, 2020) which often lack proper infrastructure and drainage systems, and are particularly vulnerable to flooding.

During heavy rains, overflowing waterways and poor drainage systems cause significant damage and displacement (World Bank, 2022). This highlights the need for comprehensive and up-to-date geospatial data to support decision-makers, development partners, and communities to ensure urban resilience and minimize the impacts of such phenomena. Moreover, due to climate change, we are currently witnessing major impacts in most cities of Tanzania such as Morogoro, Mwanza, Bukoba, Manyara, etc., where floods, landslides, and other disasters hit communities. With these happening, they are damaging properties and killing people, yet, there needs to be more up-to-date and reliable maps/data to support safe interventions and coordinate rescue missions on the ground.

Floods in Rufiji District (photo courtesy of Habari Leo, 2024)

There have been efforts in previous times to address disasters through the use of open data/maps. A notable one is the Ramani Huria, a community mapping for flood resilience project between 2015 and 2020 that significantly trained and worked with local communities to create open datasets that support risk identification and help synchronize the government, communities, and development partners efforts to address issues and ensure urban resilience and the well-being of the local communities. However, the created datasets from previous mapping efforts need regular updates from time to time due to changing environments and human interactions. Updating the maps can become unrealistic and challenging due to resource limitations such as funds, people, tools, etc.

OMDTZ is committed to contributing to and using open data and open technology to attain global development goals and solve socio-economic and humanitarian challenges in Tanzania. Through our innovation department, OMDTZ is investing in novel approaches to simplify the data collection processes and plans to execute mapping activities using minimal resources and time spent in the fields. With this in mind, we are conducting a 360° street view mapping in Dar es Salaam with plans to extend to other major cities in the country such as Morogoro, Mwanza, Arusha, Mbeya, etc.

To conduct this activity, the OMDTZ team plans to make use of its “Bajaj”, a common term in Tanzania used to describe a three-wheeled tricycle that will be mounted with GoPro MAX, a 360° photo capturing device to collect 360° street-level photos in areas of interest. The reasons and merits of using the “Bajaj” are:

  1. Accessibility: tricycles can navigate narrow and winding streets that are common in unplanned areas, reaching places that larger vehicles cannot. Also, their smaller size and greater maneuverability make them ideal for navigating congested areas and avoiding obstacles, which is crucial in densely populated regions.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: tricycles are relatively inexpensive to operate and maintain compared to larger vehicles, making them a cost-effective solution for extensive data collection.
  3. Reduced Traffic Impact: tricycles can easily weave through traffic jams and congested areas, ensuring that data collection is not significantly delayed by urban traffic conditions.
A Mapping “Bajaj”

The collected 360° street-level photos/data are expected to be hosted on Mapillary, a street-level imagery platform that scales and automates mapping using collaboration, cameras, and computer vision. After capturing the street-level information, the team will automate the Mapillary data, use this data to update OpenStreetMap, and publish the datasets to make them ready for decision-makers to use for development or humanitarian purposes. Data expected to be extracted from Mapillary’s 360° street view to OpenStreetMap include, but are not limited to:

Stay alert to check our 360° street-view mapping “Bajaj” in action in the streets of Dar es Salaam and stay tuned for a series of blogs that will uncover our 360° street-level mapping journey including mapping methodology, techniques to import data to OpenStreetMap, challenges, opportunities as well as data use cases.



OpenMap Development Tanzania

Open-source tech & geodata for managing & solving community's socio-economic and humanitarian challenges