The mapping industry is massively underperforming its potential to drive the physical future of business and life. The internet of things (IoT), self-driving cars, augmented reality, and location intelligence will all benefit from a radically different industry architecture, one built on a layered mapping stack and open mapping platforms with cloud-hosted intersection of mapping data, your data, and software — at scale! We believe that the mapping industry is on the cusp of a third wave of innovation to unlock this value. You can see what we’re up to in the video included in this post.

This post is the second installment in our mapping trends. The first one is here: Mapping Trends, Part One: Opportunity And Angst. Here are two more trends. (Thanks to Emma Huff, a member of our research team, for capturing them in prose.)


Trend No. 4: Indoor Positioning Has Expanded Beyond Marketing To Drive Operational Efficiency

Indoor positioning systems (IPS) have historically been used for offers and ad targeting, but the functionality of this technology is now extending beyond the world of retail and advertising into asset tracking and inventory management. The IoT realm opens up wide with location data. One vendor told us that their large automotive manufacturer client uses location technology to track their production line and optimize assembly time. Each time a machine detects a disruption, it signals the nearest maintainer to resolve the problem, saving an average of 500 euros per malfunction. Others are exploring the idea of tracking healthcare professionals and medical equipment inside hospitals to improve service turnaround — and potentially save a life. And another is guiding vision-impaired travels through a busy international airport. Indoor positioning will become expected and ubiquitous in the next five years.


Trend No. 5: Portions Of The Map Need Standards And Are Nearing A Utility

At the lower layers of the four-layer mapping stack, every supplier — Apple, Esri, Google, HERE, OpenStreetMap, Pitney Bowes, and TomTom — have separately built very similar maps. For example, the satellite imagery, street names, lane delineations, and places data are all pretty much the same on each of the maps. For autonomous vehicles to operate safely, however, layers across multiple maps will need to be calibrated within centimeters. For example, without calibration, an autonomous BMW and Audi following their HERE HD map could pin a third car interpreting its own Waymo HD map against a freshly minted barrier. Eventually, standardization across mapping layers may be necessary to ensure public safety with autonomous assets operating in the physical world.

Zenzic, a UK organization, recently concluded that self-driving vehicle operation will be dependent on conformity to a minimum set of mapping requirements and standards, and the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, which includes the 14 largest Japanese auto manufacturers, including Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, put it, “Globally harmonized standards for the development and practical application of high-precision positioning technologies, high-precision mapping technologies, and dynamic mapping technologies — which continuously update real-time information on, for example, surrounding structures and road traffic and weather conditions — should also be established.”