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A Holt edited this page Jul 25, 2019 · 89 revisions

Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) Maps

Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) provides offline Map Packs that are like Google Maps but better, for schools especially, as they work offline and avoid all the advertising.

These Map Packs are compressed and use vector (not bitmap) techniques so you can easily download and install an entire continent/region, or the entire world, also including satellite photos:

  • Zoomable maps (15 levels of vector zoom from 0-14, scales beautifully to level 18) offering detailed resolution to about 1 m within the bounding box focus area. This OpenStreetMap content is updated quasi-annually, thanks to

  • Every IIAB Map Pack also includes worldwide map data outside its bounding box focus area (11 levels of vector zoom, from 0-10).

  • Every IIAB Map Pack also includes satellite photos (10 levels of zoom, from 0-9) from Sentinel, offering detailed resolution to about 1 km.

  • Search for cities/towns/settlements that have more than 1000 people (127,654 are included).

  • Attractive IIAB Map Packs (about 4-to-23 GB each) are now available for:

    • ~7 Major Continents
    • The Middle East
    • Central America & the Caribbean
    • The Entire World — which now fits within ~53 GB (Live Demo!)

This represents the state-of-the-art as of July 2019, for IIAB 7.0. For nuts & bolts details as to how this came together, please see the Credits, Software (Source Code) and Links & Advanced Topics sections below.

How do I install an IIAB Map Pack for my region?

  1. If you have not yet, install Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) 7.0 (or higher) from

  2. Use IIAB's Admin Console (http://box.lan/admin, default passwords at http://FAQ.IIAB.IO) to click Install Content (on top) > Get Map Region (on the left).

  3. Pick a checkbox on the left to download, unpack and install the Map Region (Map Pack) you want. As you hover (mouse over) the choices on the left, colorful bounding boxes light up on the world map on the right — to help you choose the Map Pack most suitable for your region:

    • As of July 2019 you can choose among each of the ~7 major continents, Central America (3.77 GB), the Middle East (7.66 GB) or the World (53.17 GB).
  4. After making your choice, kick off your Map Pack download/installation using the Install Selected Region button:

    • Please be patient as this can sometimes take a few hours, depending on your Internet connection etc! You can monitor the progress by clicking Utilities (on top) > Display Job Status (on the left).

    • Here's a working example of IIAB maps in action, so you know how they'll appear after your chosen Map Pack unpacks and installs itself, including fully-zoomable details of all continents in this example:

  5. Once your Map Pack is installed, try it out at http://box/maps — and also look over your new IIAB home page (typically http://box, http://box.lan,, or http://box.local) where a new Content Pack should appear, briefly describing the Map Pack you installed — for students and teachers to click on!

How do I upgrade an IIAB Map Pack?

In the weeks/months after installing your IIAB Map Pack, you might notice that a new Map Pack is published, e.g. if you monitor this "map catalog" link showing the latest available:

In the future, IIAB Maps will use the "perma_ref" names (seen in regions.json above) to allow you to upgrade Map Packs more automagically, while noting that the internal format for Map Packs may change! If you too are a map hacker interested in contributing, please contact us, and we can explain some of the underlying mechanics like:

Just for now (as of July 2019, for IIAB 7.0) the process of upgrading an IIAB Map Pack needs to be done manually, following these instructions:

  1. Back up your Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) using one of the techniques described in http://FAQ.IIAB.IO > "How do I back up, shrink & copy IIAB microSD cards?"

  2. Delete your existing/installed Map Pack from within /library/www/osm-vector-maps — it will be a sub-directory named something like en-osm-omt_africa_2017-07-03_v0.2 — that contains many gigabytes.

  3. Not necessary after 2019-06-26:

    Use a text editor like nano to remove the deleted Map Pack's stanza (all 8 lines of it) from:


  4. Run git branch in both of IIAB's repo directories below, then look at the output carefully, to make sure you're on the master branch in both cases.

    If confirmed, run this 7-line recipe at the Linux command-line, to upgrade all your IIAB software:

    sudo su -
    cd /opt/iiab/iiab
    git pull
    ./iiab-install --reinstall    # takes about 10-20 min
    cd /opt/iiab/iiab-admin-console
    git pull
    ./install                     # takes about 2-4 min

    Alternative: if you're in a hurry, and you're sure you don't want to upgrade other IIAB Apps (using the above ./iiab-install --reinstall) then instead run ./runrole osm-vector-maps at that point, which completes in about 1 minute.

  5. Get your new Map Pack by following the original instructions above ("How do I install an IIAB Map Pack for my region?") i.e. http://box.lan/admin > Install Content > Get Map Region.

  6. Beautify, update or customize your IIAB home page (e.g. http://box) as necessary!


  1. If you downloaded a Map Pack prior to 2019-07-25, you can make it work far more reliably on mobile devices & low-memory client machines by running these manual steps:

    sudo su -
    cd /library/www/osm-vector-maps/en-osm-omt_africa_2017-07-03_v0.23    # YOUR MAP PACK DIRECTORY
    mv main.js main.js.old

    As corresponds to PR iiab/iiab-admin-console#247.

  2. In some upgrade situations glitches can arise, e.g. #1791, #1793 and #1800.

    If you get completely stuck, don't hesitate to contact us !

What might future IIAB Maps bring?

INVITATION: If you can help ongoing efforts to polish maps for children in offline schools in all countries, directly contributing to beautifying OpenStreetMap (VIDEO) thereby bringing Earth to life for all, Thank You! Read more at (#877) and please do get in touch to learn more!

Thanks for your help evolving this into a continuously more friendly community product, as Usability Engineering begins right here — thanks to all who can assist! Background: Internet-in-a-Box is a volunteer community that greatly welcomes your suggestions and contributions !

  • Map issues (and pull requests) currently being discussed or worked on:
  • http://box/maps causes Chrome to crash rather often on Android, and the user experience could use improvement: #1728
  • Individual .mbtiles Map Packs (e.g. smaller map regions, for cities, countries, etc) might in future be directly downloadable to your IIAB, as new ones are published here:
  • Multiple Map Packs might be downloadable to your IIAB, all of them viewable thru the same http://box/maps URL, possibly by combining their .mbtiles files into a single unified .mbtiles file, e.g. using append2region, similar to what Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer proposed in his original design doc (listed at the bottom of this page).
  • Descriptions of Map Packs (on your http://box IIAB Home Page) could offer more tips & tricks for teachers and students, e.g. how to search for cities etc.
  • http://box/maps/maplist/ might show more of a visual catalog of what maps were available around the time your IIAB was originally installed, or most recently updated?
  • Please suggest the highest priority mapmaking needs and/or how you might help!


Much of the original work on IIAB Maps was coordinated by Braddock Gaskill and Joel Steres in 2012-2015.

More recently George Hunt refined city search, moved to vector-based Map Packs, and added satellite photos — leading to major advances in September 2018 (IIAB 6.6) and July 2019 (IIAB 7.0).

Thank you also to Tim Moody, Adam Holt, Anish Mangal, Avni Khatri, Mir Rodríguez Lombardo, Minh Nguyen, Paul Norman, Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer, Nick Doiron & other volunteer professionals from the OpenStreetMap community who are making this tremendous, ongoing progress possible!

Software (Source Code)

Links & Advanced Topics

In reverse chronological order:

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