At AutoMobility - which bills itself as the "world's leading auto-tech conference" -, Microsoft has announced the availability in public preview of a new cloud offering dubbed Azure Location Based Services (ALBS).
In essence, Location Based Services comes in support of businesses deploying Internet of Things solutions by providing "location-based insights" for their "physical assets" that are connected to the cloud. The Redmond giant is calling this approach the "Location of Things" and says that the geographical data provided will unlock a better way to connect smart cities and other IoT solutions, thus making sure to "empower industrial transformation, from manufacturing to retail to automotive – and everything in between."
Microsoft insisted on the streamlined use of the service and its privacy-minded approach:
Available in early December, Azure Location Based Services provides an enterprise-ready location service for customers to build mobility, asset tracking and other geospatial applications that provide useful insights through one dashboard, one subscription and one bill. Azure Location Based Services also provides enterprises with the privacy, data sovereignty, compliance, scale and simplicity they have come to expect from Azure services.
Of course, some partners like consumer mapping company TomTom, and enterprise mapping firm Esri have highlighted their investment in the newest Azure service. Joining these two is Ireland-based Cubic Telecom - an important player in the service provider arena for IoT and the automotive industry - has built a proof-of-concept to rank the effectiveness of charging station placements. Furthermore, U.S.-based Fathym is making use of Location Based Services to help cities, commercial trucking companies, and government agencies "visualize road weather conditions on maps and data visualizations and optimize for other routes if weather conditions are unsafe."
Also building their own solutions on top of this service are:
- ICONIQ - Chinese electric car manufacturer, uses ALBS for maintenance and diagnostics
- BrightBox - makers of connected car platform Remoto
- Cubic Transportation (no relation to Cubic Telecom) - creators of NextCity smart city framework
- Delphi - makers of autonomous driving solutions
- Otonomo - builders of "the world’s first connected vehicle data marketplace platform" for acquisition of vehicle data
Azure Location Based Services is the latest in a series of investments Microsoft is making in the IoT arena, following the expansion of the open-source AirSim project - which tests the safety of AI systems. Worthy of mention is also the Smart Cities for All Toolkit, for which Microsoft has partnered with G3ict and World Enabled, as well as Vision Zero, a collaboration with ODN (Open Data Nation) to "reduce traffic fatalities and injuries."