Meta, Microsoft team up on map nonprofit

Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon are all partners in a collaborative, interoperable map project.

The Linux Foundation, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Meta, Microsoft, and Dutch mapping company TomTom have combined forces on a new mapping nonprofit called the Overture Maps Foundation.

Its goal is to help people build new map products by offering interoperable open map data — basically, mapping data that members can use across computer systems.

Data will come from:

  • Government agencies, like city planning departments
  • Existing open map data projects like OpenStreetMap (which Meta already uses)
  • Members, who contribute their own

Membership ranges from $0 to $3m per year, depending on if it’s an individual, nonprofit, government agency, or business.

Why?

As Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin told Venture Beat, this isn’t a Google Maps that you can ask for directions. Rather, it’s mapping’s answer to open-source software.

Currently, developers who want to find high-quality and up-to-date mapping data often cobble it together from various sources, all of which have their own languages and quirks.

Overture’s data will live in a single place, serving as a base map that companies and developers can build on.

The first data set, launching in 2023, will include building, road, and administrative info. Over time, Overture will release other layers, like 3D building data.

Mapping data…

… is useful for a variety of purposes, including navigation, routing, search, and augmented and mixed reality — something Meta likely cares about given its metaverse aspirations.

Notably absent: Google and Apple. They have their own maps, which, as TechCrunch points out, took a huge bite out of TomTom’s business as smartphones replaced GPS devices.

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