Getting Started with Mobile Mapping

What is mobile mapping? What are its benefits? Read all you need to know before implementing Mobile Mapping Systems in your company.


25 June 2020, by Mario Sabatino Riontino


Figure 1: Photo by @gletham GIS, Social, Mobile Tech Images on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/gisuser/
Figure 1: Photo by @gletham GIS, Social, Mobile Tech Images on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/gisuser/

Why Collecting Geospatial Data

Whenever your objective is urban planning, street & road mapping, onshore & offshore mapping, emergency response planning, or designing digital maps, you might need to collect geospatial data.

Geospatial data indicate where objects are absolutely or relatively positioned on Earth.

Over the last few years, mobile mapping (MM) has become one of the most popular geospatial processes in the world, enabling companies and researchers to capture data faster and create accurate 3D models, also in difficult conditions.

What is Mobile Mapping

Mobile Mapping is the process of collecting geospatial data from mobile vehicles such as cars, drones, boats, trains or aeroplanes. Vehicles could be equipped with a range of sensors:

  • Positioning (GNSS, GPS)
  • Cameras
  • LiDAR
  • Radar
  • More remote sensing systems

Figure 2: Mobile Mapping Drone. Photo by Jared Brashier on Unsplash
Figure 2: Mobile Mapping Drone. Photo by Jared Brashier on Unsplash

Benefits of using Mobile Mapping

Mobile mapping devices are fairly easy to use, thus requiring minimal training for non-experts.

Mobile Mapping is conducted much quicker than traditional surveying methods. In fact, according to a study by the Association for Project Management (APM), it could be up to 40 times faster than traditional static scanning tools (e.g. tripods).

For large projects with budget restrictions and time pressure, the use of mobile mapping devices is cost-effective.

Furthermore, mobile scanners can be operated remotely, through a pulley system, autonomous vehicles or UAV, making it possible to survey and map inaccessible, dangerous or hostile environments.

To summarize the benefits of Mobile Mapping:

  • Easy to use
  • Cost-effective
  • Remote control

The Future of Mobile Mapping

The size of the mobile mapping market was over $14 billion in 2018 and is predicted to reach $40 billion by 2024, rising with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% between the years 2018 to 2024.

Figure 3: Mobile Mapping Market Prediction
Figure 3: Mobile Mapping Market Prediction

Additionally, the expansion of this technology across different verticals caused a substantial increase in data collection and processing.

Data Protection & Privacy

Mobile Mapping Systems (MMS) capture images of pedestrians, therefore data protection is key. Particularly when using planar or aerial imaging, MMS often collect personal data like faces, bodies and license plates.

As we discussed extensively in this article, these are the most fundamental and highly visible elements of our identity, they fall under the definition of personally identifiable information (PII) and need to be protected according to the GDPR. Thus, measures such as anonymization are necessary to comply with the legal requirements. In the specific case of image processing, blurring emerged as the de-facto standard anonymization method.

Ready to get started with mobile mapping? Before that, check this 📝list of things you need to consider when starting with the anonymization of mobile mapping street-level imagery.


Celantur offers an industry-grade and scalable image anonymization solution for mobile mapping to automatically blur faces, bodies, license plates and vehicles on panorama and planar images.

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