Amazon Web Services, Meta, Microsoft and TomTom have come together as founding members to form the Overture Maps Foundation. This is an open-data project that aims to build “reliable, easy-to-use and interoperable open map data”. 

The new project is being established under the Linux Foundation and aims to define a new standard for mapmaking. This is a step towards TomTom’s goal of being the smartest map on the planet. 

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.”  

In the company’s press release, they highlighted that Overture would deliver collaborative map building, global entity reference system, quality assurance processes and structured data schema.  

The contributions to Overture Maps Foundation will address concerns highlighted by developers of delivering map services. The company has said it will complement existing open geospatial data to support best-in-class map services. 

“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.” 

Overture says that it expects to release its first datasets in the first half of 2023. This release will initially include basic layers including buildings, road, and administrative information. 

“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.” 

Overture plans to support next-generation map products by steadily improving the coverage, resolution and accuracy of existing data. The company also plans to introduce new layers such as places, routing or 3D building data. 

Press release: Linux Foundation

Picture: TomTom