Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta have joined forces for a collaborative maps project

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Google and Apple control the online mapping market, charging mobile app developers to access their mapping services. Other mega-cap tech firms are banding together to create another option. A collaboration between Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services with TomTom is releasing data that could allow businesses to build their maps.

Overture, which was established in December 2022 by a collaboration of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Meta, Microsoft, and TomTom, has just made a release that consists of data on buildings, transportation networks, and administrative boundaries, adding up to over 59 million points of interest. The Overture team currently includes Esri, Cyient, InfraMappa, Nomoko, Precisely, PTV Group, SafeGraph, Sanborn, and Sparkgeo being among the new members.

“Mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, as they grow and change, is a massively complex challenge that no one organization can manage. The industry needs to come together to do this for the benefit of all,” 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.”

You can find the dataset for maps on Overture’s website. The data was donated to Overture by Meta and Microsoft, as stated by Marc Prioleau, the executive director of the OMF. Obtaining data on locations can be challenging, and mapping it out requires a significant amount of time and personnel to gather and refine, as explained in an interview with CNBC.

“We have some companies that, if they wanted to invest in building the map data, they could,” Prioleau said. Rather than spending that kind of money, he said, companies asked, “Can we just get collaboration around the open base map?”

“The Places dataset, in particular, represents a major, previously unavailable open dataset, with the potential to map everything from new businesses big and small to pop-up street markets located anywhere in the world,” Marc Prioleau, Overture’s executive director, says in a statement. “Overture plans to build a broad collaboration to build and maintain an up-to-date, comprehensive database of POIs [places of interest].”

“Microsoft is committed to closing the data divide and helping organizations of all sizes to realize the benefits of data as well as the new technologies it powers, including geospatial data,” said Russell Dicker, Corporate Vice President, Product, Maps and Local at Microsoft. “Current and next-generation map products require open map data built using AI that’s reliable, easy-to-use and interoperable. We’re proud to contribute to this important work to help empower the global developer community as they build the next generation of location-based applications.”

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