AWS, Meta, Microsoft, TomTom form Overture Maps

  • December 20, 2022
  • William Payne

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Meta, TomTom, and Microsoft have formed the Overture Maps Foundation, under the governance of the Linux Foundation, to develop interoperable open map data.

Overture will enable future map products by creating interoperable open map data, will be 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.

To realise this, Overture will deliver: collaborative Map Building, incorporating data from multiple sources including Overture Members, civic organisations, and open data sources; a Global Entity Reference System that will simplify interoperability by linking entities from different data sets to the same real-world entities; Quality Assurance Processes, validating data to detect map errors, breakage, and vandalism to help ensure that map data can be used in production systems;  and a Structured Data Schema that will define and drive adoption of a common, structured, and documented data schema to create an easy-to-use ecosystem of map data. 

Overture expects to release its first datasets in the first half of 2023. Initially, this release will include basic layers including buildings, road, and administrative information. To support next-generation map products, Overture will steadily improve the coverage, resolution and accuracy of existing data, as well as introduce new layers such as places, routing or 3D building 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 organisation 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Microsoft is committed to closing the data divide and helping organisations of all sizes to realise the benefits of data as well as the new technologies it powers, including geospatial data,” said  Russell Dicker, Corporate Vice President, Product, Maps and Local at Microsoft. “Current and next-generation map products require open map data built using AI that’s reliable, easy-to-use and interoperable. We’re proud to contribute to this important work to help empower the global developer community as they build the next generation of location-based applications.” 

“Collaboration is the future of map-making, and core to TomTom’s strategy as we recently announced. Co-founding Overture Maps is the logical next step,” said Mike Harrell, VP of Engineering for TomTom’s new Maps Platform. “Overture’s open and interoperable base map is fundamental to bringing the world together to create the smartest map on the planet. TomTom’s Maps Platform will leverage the combination of the Overture base map and our own data to serve even the most demanding commercial use cases for our automotive and enterprise customers.”