Who do I go to for help about a problem with the site, my maps, my payment, etc?
CalTopo is a small company! Open a ticket in our discussion system or e-mail us and you’ll get a response quickly, typically within 24-48 hours (though holidays or weekends can occasionally slow down our responses). We do not outsource our customer support, so we are unable to provide 24/7 coverage. Typically we try to answer requests at least once each morning and evening Monday to Friday, and at least once over the weekend.
I want to support CalTopo!
Glad to hear this, the best way to support CalTopo is to purchase a subscription and to tell your friends. Subscription fees keep the site running. We do very little marketing so sharing our platform with you friends and colleagues is very valuable!
Are you hiring?
We currently are hiring for a training and customer support guru. Take a look at the full posting here.
We love the overwhelming interest we’ve gotten from our customers for previous job postings and we do keep resumes on file for the future. Feel free to share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What kinds of positions do you hire for?
In the past we have looked for full stack developers. We are a small company so versatility is important as is motivation. Being at least familiar with the product is also important. We anticipate continued growth moving forward and will always post any positions to our blog and facebook page.
My question wasn’t answered here. Where do I go?
Where do CalTopo maps come from?
CalTopo sources the underlying map data from a variety of sources. Some of these sources include governments, satellite survey companies, open source projects such as Open Street Map, and other commercial data sets such as the Google layers. Each individual layer could be sourced from one or more data sets and is combined and customized by CalTopo. Depending on our contracts and agreements, much of the time we display relevant copyrights and data sources in the bottom right corner of the map.
When was this layer last updated? Why don’t I see this new trail?
It depends on the layer you are looking at.
The data driving Mapbuilder trail and road data, as well as some other features is updated 4 times per year, approximately quarterly. We are frequently asked why trails do not appear on our map that are on Open Street Map or other sources…be patient, typically we catch these updates with our next quarterly update. Every once in a while a trail could be labeled in a manner that will not cross over into our data, contact us if you see a persistent missing trail.
NAIP Imagery layers (which are the base of MapBuilder Hybrid as well) are updated every few years depending on availability. Each layer is labeled with the range of years the data comes form (such as 2013-2015). We do not access to the exact date each image was taken.
Google layers are updated regularly. If you navigate to Google directly you can determine the last time the layer was updated in your specific area and even look at older images for that area. At this time CalTopo doesn’t display these dates or older images within our platform.
Sentinel Satellite Imagery is set up so that the entire US is covered every 5 days. If you look at the images themselves the date the image was taken is displayed on the raw image. We license this layer and don’t know precisely when the next image in your area will be taken, but it is within 5 days. You can “go back in time” within CalTopo on this layer to look at the image from approximately a week before, or various set intervals in the past back several years.
Scanned 7.5′ Maps
The scanned 7.5′ maps come from a variety of data sources such as INEGI, NRCAN, USGS, LINZ, etc. These maps vary widely in age depending on the location of the map. There may be more recent quad maps or USGS map data available that has not been integrated into this layer. When possible MapBuilder Topo and FS Topo layers typically provide the most up to date information at least in the US.
Live Overlays (Temp, Wind, etc)
These are “live” layers! Occasionally there some mild lag between the source server and our display but these are up to date and live layers.
Elevation Data/Slope Angle Shading
The elevation dataset is mostly derived from national datasets many of which have not been updated in several years including the national elevation dataset (NED). The US is in the process of updating a national elevation dataset with 1m LIDAR which CalTopo is working to integrate as it becomes available. Much of the slope angle shading is now based on this data. The actual slope angle derivation is based on a proprietary algorithm.
Will you make me a custom layer, overlay, dataset, etc?
CalTopo currently doesn’t create custom layers for individual users or groups, we are a very small company and do not have the bandwidth to do so. However, we do want feedback on layers our customers want to use, for example layers such as Sentinel, MVUM and others are the result of customer feedback.
Additionally CalTopo allows for a wide variety of custom data sources, from PDF and JPG, to WMS, WMTS and TMS servers and many others. The knowledge base contains more information about importing other layers or images.
Didn’t I see CalTopo Maps in another app?
Entirely possible. CalTopo currently has license agreements with a number of other companies to provide mapping layers for use by their customers. We think CalTopo maps are fantastic and so do many other companies!
Why can’t I see a layer in the app or print a layer?
Some layers are restricted by the copyright holder from printing or distribution in mobile apps. The best example of this is the google satellite layers which are unable to be displayed in the app or be printed. This doesn’t change with a subscription unfortunately. Other layers with restrictions include OpenStreetMap/OpenCycleMap and Thunderforest Outdoors. We are working on adding additional printable layers including worldwide satellite coverage.
Why do I have to use Google, Facebook, Apple, etc to login?
When you want to create, share, or use a map between sessions we have to know who you are. We use a unique identifier to associate your saved account information back to your login. On the app we require all users to login because of how integral checking permissions is for downloading map layers and access to layers. At some point the future we may allow a guest account on the app that can’t save maps and doesn’t need a login, but at this point we don’t support this.
Developing safe and secure login practices, storage of passwords, verification of identity for reset or account or passwords all take a large amount of time, development effort and money. We went with an open protocol for verifying user identity called OpenID to ensure that this process was safe and cost effective.
What is OpenID?
The protocol used is OpenID (https://openid.net/what-is-openid/) which facilitates verification of a user by established login procedures. OpenID is used by several major tech companies. It’s validated, secure, and well supported.
Is my Google, Yahoo, etc, account now linked to CalTopo?
CalTopo receives electronic identifying information that is unique to the user which could be a number/letter string or an e-mail address. We use that unique ID to set up your CalTopo account. We cannot see your e-mail account, your fantasy football team, or any information saved with that group.
Can I create an account just to login and use CalTopo?
Absolutely, you can create a free account on Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, etc and use that account to login to CalTopo, it doesn’t have to be your primary user name with that service. Just make sure you set up a way to recover your password with that service. We are not able to reset your password with an external service.
Can CalTopo see my user/name or password for these services?
Nope! CalTopo only sees that the authentication was completed, and a unique user ID for you and your e-mail address (used to identify you as a customer and your account).
I forgot my password! How do I reset it?
You will need to go through the password reset process with the service you use to access CalTopo such as through Google or Apple. We will never see your password, and therefore cannot help reset it for you. Every once in a while a user loses access to their e-mail address (such as graduating college, leaving a job, etc). We can go through a verification process to ensure you are the owner of your account and help migrate it to another address. Contact email@example.com to start this process.
First Responder Accounts
Pricing and additional information about each account can be found on our First Responder Subscriptions page.
Do you provide free accounts to first responders?
CalTopo provides free or discounted accounts to individual first responders. These accounts are not for organizations or multiple users. To request an account, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, including the name of the organization and documentation showing you are active with that organization. Some examples include an unexpired ID card, a letter of good standing from the organization, or a pay stub. E-mailing from an official e-mail account (such as a government or military account) qualifies as well.
Does my organization qualify?
CalTopo provides accounts to individual members of a first response organization including fire departments, law enforcement organizations, search and rescue teams, military members engaged in training or civil defense, and many other uses not specifically listed here. Please reach out directly if you want to know if your organization qualifies.
Team accounts are for any groups of users that wish to have the ability to share maps, layers, and other features all detailed at Team Accounts.
Does my organization qualify for discounted pricing?
We offer discounted pricing to any organization that is primary staffed by volunteers. That is to say, nearly all of the members of the organization volunteer for their role. Examples of this include search and rescue teams led by a small number of paid deputies, but otherwise staffed by volunteers, or volunteer fire departments with a paid chief or a small number of paid officers. We also will also consider some 501(c)3 organizations for this pricing, but please contact email@example.com for additional information or if you aren’t sure what pricing your organization qualifies for.
Does CalTopo require a subscription to use?
No, CalTopo software and apps both include full functionality for free. These functions include free PDF generation, map creation, and the ability to save a limited number of maps. Numerous layers are also provided at no cost. Free accounts allow for import and export of a variety of file formats.
What does my subscription add?
All the details of each subscription are available on the following pages: Individual Subscription, First Responder Subscriptions and Team Accounts. The long and short of is that if you want to use CalTopo offline where you will not have cell phone service, or only have access to intermittent cell phone service you will need a subscription. You may also need to purchase a subscription if you are doing work with advanced mapping or GIS tools, including overlays in Google Earth. Subscriptions also give you the ability to save more private maps, print larger PDFs, and allow access to a couple of specialized layers (such as parcel data and weekly high-res (sentinel) imagery).
How do I turn off auto-renewal of my subscription?
You will find the setting for autorenewal here. Turn off autorenewal at least 1 day before your account is set to renew in order to be sure you are not charged. However don’t worry if you decided to close your account; CalTopo has a customer friendly policy and refunds are available for any reason. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request a refund (note refunds take up to 5-10 business days).
I want to cancel or downgrade my subscription. May I have a refund?
We’re sorry you’re not pleased with the product. We offer a refund of up to 1 year subscription fee within 1 year of subscribing or renewing (essentially we’ll give you back the entire previous year, but we won’t go back 5 years and refund you all of it). We also allow for upgrade or downgrade between account levels at any time and will prorate those changes. Upgrades can be done through our join page, however downgrades must be done via e-mail. Any questions just e-mail email@example.com.