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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 10:13am

    I wonder what percentage of people would be nice enough to report construction and such. I know I wouldn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Traveler, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 10:30am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 10:34am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 10:36am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 10:45am

    A simple "speed trap" alert button would be nice too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    keyboard, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 11:15am

    speed trap

    Us old guys just flash our headlights to warn other drivers of an on coming speed trap. Be careful though because then a gang member might try to ax murder you ha ha

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Dr Rings, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    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.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Beck, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 11:32am

    Commercial Establishments

    It would be nice to be able to see all restaurants and other businesses, as reported by the community of users, instead of just those businesses who paid to be included in the directory.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Eric the Grey, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 11:38am


    And how many of those who try to update while driving have an accident...

    It would be cool, so long as the end users don't end up paying for those updates.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 11:51am

    GPS Mapping Community Link

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Nils, Jul 30th, 2007 @ 3:59pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Carolo, Jul 31st, 2007 @ 8:49am

    I think this is awesome! I can't wait for the Go 720 to come out, I think mapshare is going to be really helpful!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    ranon, Jul 31st, 2007 @ 10:20am

    Wikimapia allows user additions to the site. It has become very popular in India, Indonesia and many other places where GPS mapping is not very good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    boomhauer (profile), Sep 10th, 2007 @ 9:33pm


    Im considering patenting this, but id like to have radar detectors build into the gps and a method to commnunicate locations out to other users in the area.. if we keep a live map of all smokey's, the tickets shall no longer prevail.

    if its legal...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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