February 3, 2023

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Google’s stranglehold on the mapping space could be challenged by new initiatives from Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, and others

Meta, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and mapping company TomTom have partnered with the Linux Foundation to launch a new mapping initiative that could challenge Google’s dominance in the mapping world, TechCrunch reports.

The recently formed Overture Maps Foundation aims to encourage the development of new map products with openly available databases that members can contribute to and reuse across companies and apps. In addition, existing open data from urban planning offices and open source projects such as OpenStreetMap are used.

While there are currently only four companies driving the initiative, the foundation intends to invite other companies and communities to join.

“Mapping the physical environment and every community on the planet, even as it grows and changes, is an extremely complex challenge that no organization can handle,” noted Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin in a press release. “The industry needs to come together to do this for the good of all.”

Such map and location data is necessary to power a range of gadgets and apps. These include things like IoT devices like fitness trackers, autonomous cars, logistics apps, and even technologies for the Metaverse, in which Meta is investing billions.

“Immersive experiences that understand and blend into your physical environment are critical to the embodied internet of the future,” added Jan Erik Solem, Engineering Director for Maps at Meta. “By providing interoperable open map data, Overture provides the foundation for an open metaverse being built by creators, developers, and enterprises alike.”

The new initiative also aims to make creating new mapping products faster and easier. For example, developers often need to integrate map data from multiple sources, which can cost time and money. Essentially, the foundation addresses this problem by providing a free, easy way to combine map datasets from multiple sources and even join different but related datasets together.

At the same time, the Foundation also hopes that such a collaborative effort by so many people worldwide will result in more accurate data that will be updated frequently. As Mike Dolan, SVP and GM of Projects at The Linux Foundation, told VentureBeat, this is important because “Without reliable and modern cards, [we] just can’t develop other products and services and capabilities.”

The first datasets are scheduled to be released in the first half of 2023 but will contain limited basic information such as building and street details. However, the foundation intends to improve it over time with more data, e.g. B. Rotation and navigation and 3D building data.