Linux Foundation Announces Overture Maps Foundation to Build Interoperable Open Map Data
The Linux Foundation | 15 December 2022
Reliable, easy-to-use, and interoperable open map data allows developers to build new map services that leverage the combined contributions of Overture members.
SAN FRANCISCO – The Linux Foundation, a global nonprofit organization enabling innovation through open source, today announced the formation of the Overture Maps Foundation, a new collaborative effort to develop interoperable open map data as a shared asset that can strengthen mapping services worldwide. The initiative was founded by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Meta, Microsoft, and TomTom and is open to all communities with a common interest in building open map data.
Overture’s mission is to enable current and next-generation map products by creating reliable, easy-to-use, and interoperable open map data. This interoperable map is 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. This will drive innovation by enabling a network of communities that create services on top of Overture data.
“Mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, even as they grow and change, is a massively complex challenge that no one organization 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.”
Map data today underlie thousands of applications for local search and discovery, routing and navigation, logistics, mobility, autonomous driving, and data visualization. In the future, map services will power augmented reality applications merging the digital and physical worlds to deliver rich social, gaming, education, and productivity experiences.
Overture, along with other contributors, aim to deliver:
- Collaborative Map Building: Overture aims to incorporate data from multiple sources including Overture Members, civic organizations, and open data sources.
- Global Entity Reference System: Overture will simplify interoperability with a system that links entities from different data sets to the same real-world entities.
- Quality Assurance Processes: Overture data will undergo validation to detect map errors, breakage, and vandalism to help ensure that map data can be used in production systems.
- Structured Data Schema: Overture will define and drive adoption of a common, structured, and documented data schema to create an easy-to-use ecosystem of map data.
Today, developers delivering map services face many challenges. Sourcing and curating high-quality, current, and comprehensive data from disparate sources are difficult and expensive. Multiple datasets reference the same real-world entities using their own conventions and vocabulary, which can make them difficult to combine. Map data is vulnerable to errors and inconsistencies. Open map data can also lack the structure needed to easily build commercial map products and services on top.
The contributions to Overture Maps Foundation will address many of these concerns and complement existing open geospatial data to support best-in-class map services. The open base map data will support an entity reference system and allow additional data sets to be more easily combined to support richer map experiences.
The availability of open map data empowers developers and map creators to build new compelling applications. 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 to create a living digital record of the physical world.
While Overture has been founded by AWS, Meta, Microsoft and TomTom, the goal is to expand membership and contributors to include a wide range of signals and data inputs to improve map data. By joining, members accelerate progress and influence prioritization and decisions around investments, technical innovation, and timing.
Overture expects to release its first datasets in the first half of 2023. Initially, this release will include basic layers including buildings, road, and administrative information. To support next-generation map products, Overture will steadily improve the coverage, resolution and accuracy of existing data, as well as introduce new layers such as places, routing or 3D building data.
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Supporting Member Quotes:
“Map data plays an increasingly important role both internally and for our customers across AWS. However, maintaining accurate and comprehensive map data is cost prohibitive and complex, which can put it out of reach for many customers and stifle innovation,” said Michael Kopenec, General Manager for AWS Geospatial. “Through Overture, we are facilitating greater cooperation across the industry to make comprehensive, high-quality map data available to more end users. This will allow everyone to take advantage of the same underlying data to power a wide range of established and emerging mapping use cases across industries.”
“Immersive experiences, which understand and blend into your physical environment, are critical to the embodied internet of the future,” said Jan Erik Solem, Engineering Director, Maps at Meta. “By delivering interoperable open map data, Overture provides the foundation for an open metaverse built by creators, developers, and businesses alike."
“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.”
“Collaboration is the future of map-making, and core to TomTom’s strategy as we recently announced. Co-founding Overture Maps is the logical next step,” said Mike Harrell, VP of Engineering for TomTom’s new Maps Platform. “Overture’s open and interoperable base map is fundamental to bringing the world together to create the smartest map on the planet. TomTom’s Maps Platform will leverage the combination of the Overture base map and our own data to serve even the most demanding commercial use cases for our automotive and enterprise customers.”
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