GPS Maker Hopes To Harness The Power Of The Community

from the g-p-us dept

The GPS navigation unit market is one that’s largely commoditized, with little apparent differentiation to many consumers among products. It’s also a highly competitive market, particularly for makers of standalone systems, who must compete against car manufacturers’ built-in offerings, and now also against mobile-phone based systems. But TomTom, the world’s biggest vendor of standalone GPS units, is hoping to set itself apart from its rivals by harnessing the power of its community of users. It’s made a bid for Tele Atlas, a digital mapmaker, and once it owns the company and its maps, it will be able to incorporate all sorts of user-generated information into its maps and navigation units. Users will be able to notify the company of changes to roads and conditions, or to update information on points of interest, such as restaurants that have opened or closed. This sort of “crowdsourcing” has gotten a lot attention over the past few years, though many implementations of it leave a lot to be desired. But TomTom’s idea could be a pretty good one. Not only does it help the company improve its products and differentiate from its rivals at a relatively low cost, users also derive a tangible benefit from participation in the way of updated and more accurate maps and info, so they have some incentive to participate.

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Companies: tele atlas, tomtom

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Comments on “GPS Maker Hopes To Harness The Power Of The Community”

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Traveler says:

As Long As It's Edited.......

this is a good idea. But, if information is not fact-checked somehow, this could be a mobile “Wikipedia” type of thing. Some informatin might be true, but how would anyone know.

Without editing and confirmation, it would be like someone turning a street sign in a different direction, causing users to be misled.

Anonymous Coward says:

Open Sorce GPS

This will be just another company asking for free input and then charge for updated maps… (btw. you can submit map changes to teleatlas already).
The only thing that would really change gps maps for the better would be an open map format that all gps systems are compatible with. Most newer systems allow for sd cards and you could easily use overlays to update maps. Some format as ubiquitous as MP3 or at least google earth overlays.

Anonymous Coward says:

i’d say they should do two things (possibly 3)

1) give the user the choice to go by the standard, non-‘user-edited’ map.
2) there should be stages of acceptance. if only one person notifies the map of the change, the change should appear only in people who are *in* the area, not just driving through. the users in that area should then be asked about the change if they ever have to drive through it. once a specified amount of ‘locals’ confirm the change, it then can be made more open to the rest of the world (or country, whatever).
3) as a back-up to #2, or just to replace #2, changes should stay to that user only until an editor checks it out. priority will be based on how many people submit the change. therefore, the more popular ones will get confirmed first.

Dr Rings says:

I’ve added street changes to the two major map database companies via their websites. It’s pretty straightforward, but don’t know whether the changes have been incorporated yet. Verification may take years… even though the roads are obvious on Google Map satellite views, but the street overlays are missing. Or conversely, street data exists for roads that were never constructed due to developer bankruptcy. The “roads” for these “virtual” neighborhoods even appears on paper Rand-McNally road atlases.
The map companies should not allow cities to forward road data until construction has at least started. Too many projects change or get delayed, screwing up the GPS databases.
One nice feature that could be implemented in future GPS units is the software that would detect a vehicle moving on an “uncharted” road, and flag it for new road verification. Uploads could happen via a USB connection in the home, even as new map data is downloaded. If dozens or hundreds of people are now driving on this heretofore unknown road, reinforcing it’s reality, the GPS database employees could research and download the new street quickly.


Nils says:

Contribute to a _free_ map!

There is already a community project:

Some cities like London, UK or Karlsruhe, Germany are mostly complete.
But there is still a lot to map and its quite fun.
Join and contribute to a really free map. Don’t give your gps data to companies which will then give the maps back only for lots of money.

BTW, feel free to add restaurants to the map.
Speed traps are still in discussion but this feature will probably be added soon.

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