A coalition consisting of Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, and TomTom, known as the Overture Maps Foundation, is providing data that could empower developers to create their own mapping services to compete with Google Maps and Apple Maps. Today, the group released its first open map dataset since its inception last year.
This dataset permits third-party developers to create their own mapping or navigation tools, offering an alternative to the current dominance of Apple and Google in the field. The dataset incorporates 59 million "points of interest," including restaurants and landmarks, plus details about transport networks and administrative boundaries. This information was collated and donated by Meta and Microsoft.
"The release marks a significant step towards creating a comprehensive, market-grade open map dataset for our continually evolving world," commented Marc Prioleau, Executive Director of the Overture Maps Foundation. "The Places dataset, particularly, presents a major, hitherto unavailable open dataset, capable of mapping anything from new businesses to pop-up street markets worldwide."
Prioleau acknowledged the ongoing challenge in maintaining up-to-date data amidst constant changes to meet user expectations. He emphasized that Overture aims to foster extensive collaboration that can construct and maintain a comprehensive, current database of Points of Interest (POIs).
Upon the group's announcement last year, the companies shared their vision to expand the data over time, including more places, routing and navigation, and 3D building data.
The Overture Map Foundation was created to make app development easier and more affordable. Presently, developers have to pay to access Google Maps' API. While Apple allows native app developers free access to Apple Maps, web app developers are charged for the service.
Map and location data are integral to a variety of sectors, powering everything from IoT devices and autonomous vehicles to logistics and big data visualization tools. The current limitation of accessing such data primarily via mega-corporations can be restrictive concerning what companies can do with the data and the features available to them.