Digital maps to go interactive

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The expected growth of pedestrian navigation and location-based services means that traditional map production technologies will no longer be able to generate and update sufficiently detailed maps, experts predict..

ABI Research noted that the "exponential" growth in map details will increasingly create headaches for mapping firms.

The case for user-generated content for so-called Points of Interaction (POI) is therefore strong, according to the analyst firm.

A large part of all map and POI content will be generated by more than 50 million active members of user communities by 2012, according to the research.

"TomTom's Map Share is the first commercial implementation of user-generated map content technology directly on a personal navigation device," said ABI Research principal analyst Dominique Bonte.

"Map corrections or POI additions can be put on the device on-the-fly, and instantly uploaded and shared with the rest of the TomTom Map Share community.

"Automotive Navigation Data has recently made available an online digital map which can be modified by all users based on web 2.0 technology, allowing the firm to produce maps more quickly and at a lower cost."

Bonte added that, while branded content-sharing initiatives are aimed at keeping commercial maps up to date at low cost, completely open and standardised community projects will create digital maps and POI databases from scratch.

The OpenStreetMap project has already achieved high levels of coverage in the Netherlands, UK and Germany.

Several open POI-community projects such as GPS-Waypoints, Tellmewhere and GyPSii, have recently been launched, some of which have attracted venture capital funding.

The main revenue source for such projects is expected to be based on advertising, but opportunities may still exist to sell packaged content to navigation vendors.
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