Last week, mobile device manufacturer Nokia followed internet firm Google’s footsteps by crowd-sourcing the data accumulation for its mapping solution called Here (stylised as HERE). Incidentally Microsoft, which announced its decision to acquire Nokia’s device and mapping solutions, Bing Maps are powered by Nokia’s Here maps. Google Map Maker was conceptualised in 2008 by Google India’s head of products, Lalitesh Katragadda and has now evolved as a key product in Google’s emerging markets philosophy.
Two months ago, Apple acquired Embark, a company that also develops apps aimed at public transport users, in its quest to improve its Maps.
During its launch Apple’s Mapping solution had faced a lot of flak. Meanwhile Google acquired Waze, which helps report real-time incidents to Android and iOS applications. The search giant has recently integrated Waze community-reported real-time traffic reports into the mobile versions of Google Maps.
Mapping products have gained in importance for the major technology companies over the past couple of years. Maps and location-based services are increasingly becoming important in an “always connected” lifestyle and that translates into benefits for the local business. These listings on maps can come in handy for people on the move. Companies wish to translate the online presence of these local businesses to advertisements at a future date or even simply as a better product ensuring the user stays on with their maps.
“Sophisticated map-making is already a human and capital-intensive business. Add to this the fact that the world around us is constantly evolving with the addition of new roads, new infrastructure and even new names, and cartographers simply can’t keep up,” says Michael Halbherr, executive vice-president of HERE. Nokia’s project is a pilot that is being tested for the first time globally in India.
The project with a team of more than 1000 people will combine Nokia’s industrial data collection methods with a crowd mapping initiative. Nokia feels that by balancing both its highly advanced industrial capture methods along with contributions from residents of local communities will provide a fresh, precise and locally relevant information.
“HERE will employ its global crowd-sourcing pilot programme to tap the expert ‘know-where’ of a billion Indian consumers. This initiative will help HERE gain a sizeable competitive edge with broader and denser mapping coverage in one of the most multi-faceted geographies globally,” says Neil Shah, research director, Counterpoint Research, a technology research firm .
The companies position this as a social service by mapping local hospitals,