Meta, Amazon and Microsoft release open maps dataset

Meta, Amazon and Microsoft release open maps dataset
2 min read
27 July 2023

The Overture Maps Foundation is made up of high-profile tech companies and aims to make map data freely available. Now there is a first dataset.

The Overture Maps Foundation has released its first open maps dataset. The dataset is intended to lay the foundation for further expansion of the map material. The goal is to build an interoperable, open set of map data that developers can use for their applications.

The Overture Maps Foundation was founded last year. It has a high-profile membership: The driving members are Microsoft, Meta, Amazon and TomTom. The participating companies combine their own map data into a comprehensive set that can be downloaded for free. The data comes from its own members, charitable organizations and open sources such as OpenStreetMap or urban planning agencies.

Data set for world that is constantly changing

According to the foundation, it is impossible for a single company to keep a map service up-to-date worldwide. But the joint project aims to do just that: "The release of Overture Overture 2023-07-26-alpha.0 is an important step towards a comprehensive, market-ready open map dataset for our ever-changing world," says Overture director Marc Prioleau.

"Anyone involved in cartography knows that the initial data is just the beginning. The ongoing challenge is maintaining the data amid constant change to meet user expectations." Overture, therefore, plans an ongoing collaboration that can not only create an up-to-date database, but also maintain it over the long term.

59 million "points of interest"

Overture's initial map data set is still incomplete: Included so far are 59 million "Places of Interest" such as landmarks and restaurants, as well as 780 million buildings. The set relies on OpenStreetMap for its road networks, and administrative boundaries between different regions are also noted and translated into 40 languages. The data is public, and Overture hopes to receive plenty of feedback on GitHub or by mail. Future releases will integrate more data sources, among other things, Overture writes in a release.

The open data set could help break the duopoly of Google Maps and Apple Maps. For independent developers, the data from these market-dominating map services is often only available against payment. Map services are not only used for navigation, but also for fitness trackers and IoT applications, for example.

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