Meta, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and the Dutch mapping company TomTom on Thursday launched a new mapping initiative in collaboration with the non-profit organization, Linux Foundation.
Called the “Overture Maps Foundation”, the new collaborative effort looks to develop interoperable open map data on an open-source method that can be used and reused across applications and businesses.
This means developers will be able to use Overture map data freely and build on it.
It aims to kill the dominance of Google Maps in the area of digital mapping by collating and curating data sets required for building detailed and up-to-date maps from around the world for free.
It is a known fact that Google Maps launched in 2005 continues to remain the top default navigation app for most Internet users, offering extensive services such as satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° interactive panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions, and much more.
Not just this, Google has also been able to monetize maps on a large scale.
The Overture Maps Foundation is looking to change this by building reliable, easy-to-use, and interoperable open map data for free. Members will be able to combine resources to develop data that is complete, accurate, and refreshed as the physical world changes.
“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. Industry needs to come together to do this for the benefit of all,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director for the Linux Foundation in a press release.
“We are excited to facilitate this open collaboration among leading technology companies to develop high quality, open map data that will enable untold innovations for the benefit of people, companies, and communities.”
Overture along with other contributors aims to deliver:
- Collaborative map building: Data will be incorporated from multiple sources including Overture members, civic organizations, and open data sources.
- Global entity reference system: Overture will simplify interoperability with a system that links entities from different datasets to the same real-world entities.
- Quality assurance processes: Data will undergo validation to detect map errors, breakage, and vandalism to help ensure that map data can be used in production systems.
- Structured data schema: Overture will define and drive the adoption of a common, structured, and documented data schema to create an easy-to-use ecosystem of map data.
“Immersive experiences, which understand and blend into your physical environment, are critical to the embodied internet of the future,” Maps at Meta Engineering Director Jan Erik Solem added.
“By delivering interoperable open map data, Overture provides the foundation for an open metaverse built by creators, developers, and businesses alike.”
While the project is majorly driven by AWS, Meta, Microsoft, and TomTom, the foundation hopes to expand membership and contributors to include a wide range of signals and data inputs to improve map data.
Overture expects to release its first datasets in the first half of 2023, which will initially include basic layers including buildings, roads, and administrative information.
It will steadily improve the coverage, resolution, and accuracy of existing data, as well as introduce new layers such as geographies, administrative boundaries, border routing, and eventually, 3D building data.