Meta, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and mapping company TomTom, in partnership with The Linux Foundation, have launched a new mapping initiative that could challenge Google’s dominance in the mapping world. TechCrunch reports.
The recently launched Overture Maps Foundation aims to encourage the development of new map products with openly available databases that members can contribute to and reuse across businesses and apps. In addition, it will use open data that already exists from city planning departments, as well as open source projects such as OpenStreetMap.
While only four companies are currently driving the initiative, the foundation plans to invite other companies and communities to join as well.
“Mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, even as they grow and change, is a hugely complex challenge that no organization can handle,” noted Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin in a statement. press release. “The industry needs to work together to do this in the best interest of all.”
Such map and location data is necessary to power a number of gadgets and apps. These include, for example, IoT devices such as fitness trackers, self-driving cars, logistics apps and even technology for the metaverse, something in which Meta invests billions.
“Immersive experiences, which understand and blend into your physical environment, are critical to the embodied internet of the future,” added Jan Erik Solem, technical director for Maps at Meta. “By providing interoperable open map data, Overture provides the foundation for an open metaverse built by creators, developers and companies.”
The new initiative also aims to make building new map products faster and easier. For example, developers often need to integrate map data from multiple sources, which can cost time and money. The foundation essentially addresses this problem by providing a free, easy way to combine map datasets from multiple sources and even link different but related datasets together.
At the same time, the foundation also hopes that such joint effort by so many worldwide will lead to more accurate data that will be regularly updated. As Mike Dolan, SVP and GM of Projects at The Linux Foundation, told Venture Beatthis is important because “without reliable and modern maps, [we] simply cannot build other products and services and capabilities.”
The first datasets are scheduled for release in the first half of 2023, but will contain limited basic information such as building and road details. However, the foundation plans to improve it over time with more data, such as turning and navigating and 3D building data.