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Overture Maps Foundation aims to create reliable, easy-to-use open map data

The Overture Maps Foundation, founded by Amazon Web Services, Meta, Microsoft and TomTom, aims to create reliable, easy-to-use and interoperable open map data as the basis for extensibility.


The Linux Foundation has announced the formation of the Overture Maps Foundation, a collaborative effort to develop interoperable open map data as a shared asset to strengthen mapping services worldwide. The initiative was founded by Amazon Web Services, Meta, Microsoft and TomTom, and is open to all communities with a common interest in building open map data.

Overture's mission is to create reliable, easy-to-use and interoperable open map data as the basis for extensibility, enabling companies to contribute their own data. Members will combine resources to build map data that is complete, accurate and refreshed as the physical world changes. Map data will be open and extensible by all under an open data license.

"Mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, even as they grow and change, is a massively complex challenge that no one organisation can manage. Industry needs to come together to do this for the benefit of all," said Jim Zemlin, executive director for the Linux Foundation. "We are excited to facilitate this open collaboration among leading technology companies to develop high-quality, open map data that will enable untold innovations for the benefit of people, companies and communities."

Overture aims to incorporate data from multiple sources including Overture members, civic organisations and open data sources. It will also simplify interoperability with a system that links entities from different data sets to the same real-world entities, and will define and drive adoption of a common, structured and documented data schema to create an easy-to-use ecosystem of map data.

The availability of open map data empowers developers and map creators to build new compelling applications, and the project will seek to integrate with existing open map data from projects such as OpenStreetMap and civic organizations.

Benefits for society

Open map data has the potential to provide significant benefits for society. By enabling developers to build new mapping services that leverage the combined contributions of Overture members, the availability of open map data can help to improve the accuracy and reliability of mapping services. This, in turn, can lead to more efficient routing and navigation, which can help to reduce congestion and pollution.

Open map data can also be used to support a wide range of other applications, including logistics, mobility, and autonomous driving. In the future, map services are likely to power augmented reality applications that merge the digital and physical worlds, delivering rich social, gaming, education, and productivity experiences.

Furthermore, this can encourage the development of new and exciting applications, benefiting both businesses and consumers. Open map data can also provide a valuable resource for civic organizations and other non-profit groups.

What about Google?

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, did not take part in the formation of the Overture Maps Foundation. This is not surprising, as Google already has a well-established mapping service in Google Maps. It remains to be seen how Alphabet will react to this new collaboration, and whether it will seek to compete with the open map data developed by Overture.

Google Maps is widely used and a lot of apps rely on its APIs, so it is unlikely that Alphabet will be threatened by the formation of the Overture Maps Foundation. However, the collaboration between Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and TomTom may indicate a desire by these companies to play a larger role in the geo data industry. It will be interesting to see how this new initiative develops and what impact it has on the mapping industry as a whole.

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