Google Maps has been, by far, the biggest force in making online global map software and data. Today, a coalition of companies, including Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, and TomTom, have released their first open map dataset in an effort to create an open-source mapping solution.
The group is called the Overture Maps Foundation, which was quietly formed in December 2022. Today's press release states that this public dataset release will be the first to help "enable current and next-generation interoperable open map products."
The press release states:
The collaboration is based on the premise that map data needs to be a shared asset to support future applications. As the requirements for accuracy, recency, and attribution in maps have grown to meet user needs, the costs and complexities of collecting and maintaining global map data have grown beyond the capability of any single organization.
This first dataset release has four layers of information. One is for places of interest, with the group stating it has "59 million POI records that have not previously been released as open data." The second layer contains "780 (million) unique buildings footprints worldwide". It includes information from Microsoft's own "AI-Generated building footprints".
The third layer includes a "worldwide road network derived from data in the OpenStreetMap project." Finally, the fourth data layer includes "national and regional administrative boundaries" that have been translated into over 40 languages.
Marc Prioleau, executive director of the Overture Maps Foundation, stated:
The Places dataset, in particular, represents a major, previously unavailable open dataset, with the potential to map everything from new businesses big and small to pop-up street markets located anywhere in the world.
The group says that future dataset releases will include more open data sources, including the "Global Entity Reference System, a system of stable IDs that allows data to be consistently added to features on the map." Anyone can send feedback on these releases on GitHub.