Google and Apple are the unchallenged rulers of the online mapping realm. Now, their reign, however, is being challenged. A new alliance has emerged from the shadows, ready to disrupt the status quo. Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and TomTom have joined forces to create the Overture Maps Foundation (OMF), a beacon of hope for those yearning for an open-source alternative to the Google-Apple duopoly.
The OMF is not just another competitor in the race. It’s a game-changer. Instead of creating a proprietary mapping service, the foundation aims to democratize geolocation data. They’re offering a comprehensive, precise, and open-source map dataset that anyone can use for free. The goal? To empower businesses and developers to create their own maps, breaking free from the shackles of Google and Apple.
The foundation’s first release, Overture 2023-07-26-alpha.0, is a testament to their commitment. It offers four unique data layers: Points of Interest (POI), buildings, transportation networks, and administrative boundaries. This data, derived from open-source projects like OpenStreetMap and contributions from the founding members, is a treasure trove for developers and businesses alike.
The POI dataset, boasting over 59 million records, is particularly noteworthy. It’s a first-of-its-kind open-source dataset that can map everything from emerging street markets to large corporations worldwide. The building layer, with over 780 million unique building footprints, is another feather in OMF’s cap.
The transportation network layer, derived from OpenStreetMap, offers a global road network that can be augmented with real-time traffic data in the future. The administrative boundaries layer provides a global dataset of national and regional boundaries, translated into over 40 languages to support international use.
The OMF’s approach is a stark contrast to Google and Apple’s business models. While the tech giants offer access to their map services via APIs, they do not provide access to the underlying data. This forces app developers to pay per use, creating a financial barrier for many. OMF, on the other hand, offers the underlying map data, allowing businesses to build their own software on top of it.