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Friday, July 12, 2013

The Future of Digital Mapping: Crowdsourced Maps

Crowdsourced OpenStreetMap (left) vs the same Nokia map (right)
In a recent article by Oliver Kühn Skobbler, he writes  that the future of digital mapping will be in crowdsourced maps; and I think he makes a compelling argument.

In his article he says "One of the most exciting opportunities for crowdsourced maps specifically, and digital maps generally, lies in car user data, which is just coming into its own. Cars are obviously one of the largest travel tools utilized by individuals on a daily basis, and, with the advent of the connected car, the data that they collect via internal/external sensors has grown more nuanced, granular, and specific over the years.  Cars are simply getting smarter, with sensors capable of providing everything from weather conditions to speed-zone information.

Making this information available in the cloud and combining it with data available via crowdsourced mapping platforms produces remarkable possibilities for innovation. Imagine adding road-condition data, as just one example, to crowdsourced mapping services. By marrying a crowdsourced map with crowdsourced car-sensor data, the map’s overall utility multiplies immeasurably."

He also mentions that with Google's recent acquisition of Waze, that they are hoping to improve their own efficiency in this area.  Google currently spends billions a year to maintain it's mapping platform.  How much will they likely save by having local drivers provide near-real-time updates for them?