Frequently asked questions about Mapeo.

For help with technical issues using Mapeo, see the Troubleshooting section.

Who made Mapeo?

Mapeo was built by Digital Democracy in close collaboration with Indigenous partners in the Amazon who are on the front lines of defending their rights and territories. Digital Democracy is a non-profit organization that works in solidarity with marginalized communities to use technology to defend their rights. For more information on Digital Democracy and our partners, visit our website.

Is Mapeo free to use?

Yes, all Mapeo tools and features are free to install and use.

What kind of data can Mapeo collect?

For more on Mapeo's default categories and details fields, see Default configuration. To learn about customizing these options, see Custom configurations.

What languages is Mapeo available in?

Mapeo is currently available in over 8 languages, including:

  • English

  • Spanish

  • Portuguese

Mapeo can be translated into additional languages on Crowdin. For more information, see Translating Mapeo & default configurations

Is Mapeo Mobile available for iOS?

Mapeo Mobile is currently available for Android only. It is on our roadmap to release a version for iOS in the future.

Do I need to customize Mapeo to use it?

When you install Mapeo, it comes with default options that can be used right away, without any customization. To learn more about whether these options will work for you, see Will Mapeo work out-of-the-box for me?

Some projects may require customization of data fields or background maps in order to best meet the needs of the project or context. Customization currently requires some technical skills. For more on customization options and technical requirements, see Customization options.

How does Mapeo work offline?

Mapeo is built on an embedded peer-to-peer database, so all data collected with Mapeo is stored directly on your device, with no need for an internet connection or centralized server. Users of Mapeo Mobile and Mapeo Desktop can synchronize or exchange data over a local Wi-Fi network. The data never leaves your local Wi-Fi network and does not require an internet connection. Mapeo Desktop can also exchange information via a synchronization file using a USB drive.

For more on how Mapeo stores and synchronizes data, see Peer-to-peer & Mapeo sync.

Does Mapeo use a Blockchain?

Mapeo uses secure peer-to-peer technology with a distributed ledger, which does not include a public blockchain or consensus.

Public blockchains are designed for a scenario where public transactions must be mediated between participants which are all potentially malicious. These “trustless” transactions are the key assumption of a blockchain that distinguishes it from peer-to-peer technology.

Applications like Mapeo assume that data is managed by the community generating it - and some of that data may never be publicly accessible. Mapeo's approach, in contrast, creates a closed group, where data creators are also data stewards, managing their own data and controlling who has access. We take security seriously and maintain protections from third-party attacks such as targeted hacks and surveillance by third-parties. For users of Mapeo, privacy is critical for protecting their ancestral knowledge and environmental monitoring information until it’s ready to be shared with trusted partners.

For more information, read this blog post and this paper from Article 19 about why blockchain is not a recommended tool for human rights and freedom of expression.

Who will have access to my data?

Mapeo was designed to be an offline-first set of tools that centers data sovereignty for its users. That means that the data you collect with Mapeo will only exist on the device it is collected or created with until you choose to share it with other Mapeo project participants or external actors. The data you create will never be stored on external servers or shared with app maintainers or other actors, unless you choose to send it or enable and use Web sync options through Mapeo.

Does Mapeo collect information on users?

Mapeo collects only basic, anonymized statistics for debugging, designing and understanding to what extent the applications are being used.

What happens if Mapeo loses financial support? Will my data be inaccessible?

Mapeo is built with long-term sustainability as a focus. This goes beyond financial sustainability - we ensure that no single entity or technology is responsible for data storage or access.

Mapeo does not lock your data into a particular data format. You can easily move your data around, and it is kept in its original form. Mapeo Desktop can export data to SMART, Shapefile, CSV, and GeoJSON. You'll never be locked into using Mapeo software. For more on export options, see Exporting data & sharing externally.

Can you help me deploy Mapeo?

There is a community of active users and maintainers of Mapeo that participate in our public chat channel on Discord and on our Earth Defenders Toolkit Forum. We encourage you to consult these spaces for additional tips and ideas on how people are using Mapeo.

Digital Democracy's core team is very small and we have limited capacity to provide direct accompaniment for implementing Mapeo outside of our existing partnerships. In some cases we are able to offer support. To read more about the way we work with partners and different levels of support, see here.

How can I report bugs or problems using Mapeo?

There is community of active users and maintainers of Mapeo that participate in our public chat channel on Discord. To join the conversation or seek help on technical issues, you can access the channel here.

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