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The end of the Google Maps monopoly?

Dec 16 – Google Maps has always had a distinct group of quiet competitors, but now it’s about to see fierce competition. The Linux Foundation has introduced Overture Maps, which is intended as an effort to develop interoperable open map data as a shared asset “that can strengthen mapping services worldwide.” The product is open source and includes backers from companies like Amazon Web Services, Meta, Microsoft and TomTom.

Further details

On the Overture Maps Foundation’s new website, The Linux Foundation published a press release pertaining to the product. According to the press release, the product aims to deliver:

1. Collaborative map building, which will enable multiple sources to contribute information to the development of maps.

2. A global entity reference system, which will simplify interoperability with technical systems that link entities from divergent data sets to actual real-world entities.

3. Quality assurance processes that will assist with the detection of map errors, breakage and vandalism.

4. Structured data schema that will contribute to an easy-to-use ecosystem of map data.

What about OpenStreetMap?

An open source map community does already exist. It’s called OpenStreetMap, and has a Wikipedia-like set-up, meaning that anyone can edit the information.

How will Overture’s project differ?

The Overture press release states that, “The project will seek to integrate with existing open map data from projects such as OpenStreetMap and city planning departments, along with new map data contributed by members and built using computer vision and AI/ML techniques,” ultimately creating a living digital record of our physical environment at-large.

Overture 2023 launch

Overture intends to launch its first datasets in the early portion of 2023, and will share more details as progress occurs. The group says that the code for Overture map data and the new global entity reference system will eventually live on GitHub.

In the early stages, Overture intends to release basic layers information. This will include building, road and administrative details. Later, the group will introduce new layers, like place routing or 3D building data.

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