Powered by its OpenStreetMaps technology, this is the first international partnership for the company. But before you start to wonder what the big deal is about why there’s a map on a website, think about this: Le Monde used MapBox to turn the entire world French. By doing this, the French newspaper has implemented a service that will feature its news on a map familiar to its readers.
Currently, when you view a map, it’s probably going to be from MapQuest, Bing Maps, or most likely Google Maps. But what Le Monde has done is to use an alternative mapping service to take the entire world, from streets to freeways, stores to buildings, from towns to nations, and convert everything into French — no more English labels.
According to MapBox, all of the French labels were sourced within two months using OpenStreetMap, an open source map layer that allows anyone to insert any information to help build a more comprehensive map of the world. Le Monde’s CTO Olivier Grange-Labat says that in the long term, the OpenStreetMap community will “provide the most accurate data ever” when it comes to understanding the world.
By having a French version of the world on its site, Le Monde will help put into context not only local and national events, but also global ones — when news happens in South Africa, India, Spain, Russia, or in the US, the newspaper will be able to make the story more relevant by potentially affixing geolocation to it. By doing this, Le Monde readers could gain a better understanding of where in the world things are happening and still understand it (because it’s in French).
By adding in MapBox maps, Le Monde has also helped the mapping company expand to another language. Previously, MapBox was only available in English and local languages. It tells us one of its goals is to help people create maps of the entire world in a variety of languages, something that has not been accomplished by any mapping software, even Google Maps. In fact, Google only offers dedicated maps in English, Chinese, and Korean.
In its future, MapBox says that it intends to release more maps in different languages, with German and Spanish being its focus. The company will also be launching an iD editor, a product it developed through the Knight Foundation, that allows the 1 million-strong members of the OpenStreetMap community to easily update any map with any piece of data, whether it be a road, attraction, building, etc.
Here is an interactive version of MapBox’s mapping service in French. The company says that the first version is exclusive to Le Monde, but will be open for all of its accounts in the coming week.
In honor of its relaunch, Le Monde has said it will keep the new MapBox-powered map outside of its paywall for the next seven days to allow its readers and fans to take a look.
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