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Meta, Microsoft, AWS, and TomTom launch Overture Maps Foundation to make open map data

Meta, Microsoft, AWS, and TomTom launch Overture Maps Foundation to make open map data

To combat Google’s mapping dominance, the Linux Foundation has teamed with some of the world’s leading technology companies to provide interoperable and open map data.

The new Overture Maps Foundation, hosted by the Linux Foundation, is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Meta, Microsoft, and TomTom.

The mission of the Overture Maps Foundation is to fuel new map products with open datasets that can be repurposed across applications and enterprises, with each member providing data and resources.

“Mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, even as they grow and change, is a massively complex challenge that no one organization can manage,” said Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin in a press release. “Industry must work together to benefit everyone.”

Map and location data are used by IoT devices, self-driving cars, logistics, and big data visualization tools. Having all that data under one or two mega-firms might limit what enterprises can do with it and what features they have, not to mention the licensing expenses.

Meta has made significant investments in Metaverse technology, which will necessitate spatial mapping.

“Immersive experiences, which understand and blend into your physical environment, are critical to the embodied internet of the future,” said Meta Maps engineering director Jan Erik Solem. By providing interoperable open map data, Overture creates an open metaverse for creators, developers, and businesses.

Anti-Google?

The Overture Maps Foundation is absent from Google. Indeed, the fact that such big names and rivals from the technology world are collaborating is likely testament to Google’s stranglehold on mapping, which it has gradually gained since the launch of its Android mobile operating system nearly fifteen years ago.

With the release of the iPhone around the same time, millions of people around the world had maps and navigation in their pockets, which had a significant impact on incumbents such as TomTom, which had built a substantial business off of physical navigation devices stuck to car windshields.

This graph depicts how TomTom’s stock declined during the smartphone era

TomTom has decided to seek to restructure, collaborating with Uber and Microsoft for map and data, targeting developers with SDKs, and acquiring companies to boost its autonomous vehicle ambitions. However, Google and its map – based empire still dominate, which this new alliance will help solve.

“Collaborative mapmaking is central to TomTom’s strategy — the Overture Maps Foundation provides the framework to accelerate our goals,” TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn said in a statement. “TomTom’s Maps Platform will leverage the combination of the Overture base map, a broad range of other data, and TomTom’s proprietary data in a continuously integrated and quality-controlled product that serves a broad range of use cases, including the most demanding applications like advanced navigation, search, and automated driving.”

Open sesame

This new foundation aligns with societal and regulatory pressures to create decentralized and interoperable social networks. In addition, the Linux Foundation established the OpenWallet Foundation to develop interoperable digital wallets, thereby challenging Google and Apple’s closed payment ecosystems.

Today’s announcement fits into that pattern. The founding firms seek to collaborate on map-building programs that combine data from several open data sources into a consistent, standardized, and production-ready format. Municipal and OpenStreetMap data will be channeled.

At launch, there are four member companies, but the ambitions are to include any company with a direct interest in open map data.

The Overture Maps Foundation plans to release “fundamental” layers like roads, buildings, and administrative responsibilities in the first half of 2023. This will eventually include more locations, routing, and 3D building data.

About MahKa

MahKa loves exploring the decentralized world. She writes about NFTs, the metaverse, Web3 and similar topics.

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