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Under the Linux Foundation, the tech companies Meta, AWS, Microsoft and Tom Tom are working together to create more detailed and up-to-date maps. The project has been running since late 2022 and now shares new information.

Maps are not always up-to-date, not even with GPS-based map information. Meta, AWS, Microsoft and Tom Tom want to change that. To this end, the tech companies established the Overture Maps Foundation as part of the Linux Foundation.

The goal should be achieved by combining map data from different (open) sources. This should produce a well-structured map schema with fewer mistakes.

Underlying technology

The underlying structure is interoperable open map data. In June 2023, the Overture Maps Foundation released the Data Scheme and the so-called “engine” for the platform for this purpose; the Global Entity Reference System (GERS). The GERS system helps drive interoperability between different datasets. This is possible by relying on an ID that connects Overture’s open map data with location data provided by companies and organizations. The “connector” should provide the enrichment to create better maps, according to the maps initiative.

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In the near future, AI is also expected to contribute to making more detailed map information possible. Independent providers are already working on this.

Collaboration with Google and Linux Foundation

The Overture Maps Foundation is now supported by a large number of tech giants, but Google does not join. There is only mutual cooperation for, for example, improving the reliability of maps. This is done by adding more buildings to maps by using satellite imagery from Google and Microsoft.

The Linux Foundation supports this initiative to ensure that open data can be freely used, reused and distributed by anyone. By encouraging open data access for map information, the Linux advocacy group hopes to solidify map services worldwide with a shared solution that can only get better over time.

Success dependent on the automotive sector

Whether the Overture Maps Foundation initiative will truly be a success does depend on adoption. Especially in the automotive sector, although they often rely on their own contracts or initiatives for the map information of their navigation systems. In any case, South Korean car giant Hyundai has decided to embrace the initiative. Partner Tom Tom should also ensure that the initiative finds more traction.

Also read: Open mapping is the future, according to Overture Maps