Big Data

First Open Map Dataset Launched by AWS, Meta, Microsoft-founded Overture Maps Foundation

The Overture Maps Foundation is a geospatial collaborative effort founded by Amazon Web Services, Meta, Microsoft, and TomTom in December 2022. Earlier this week, the organization announced the release of its first open map dataset.

Sourcing and curating high-quality, up-to-date, and comprehensive map data from disparate sources is difficult and expensive and goes beyond the capability of any single organization, OMF says of the reason behind its efforts to create a shared map resource. The group aims to incorporate map data from multiple sources including Overture Members, civic organizations, and open data sources, its website says.

The Overture 2023-07-26-alpha.0 release includes four unique data layers: Places of Interest (POIs), Buildings, Transportation Network, and Administrative Boundaries. A description of these layers is below:

  • Places of Interest: This data later includes over 59 million POI records not previously released as open data. The dataset was derived from data contributed to OMF by founding members Meta and Microsoft to provide a significant baseline of worldwide places data, OMF says. The Places dataset is licensed under CDLA Permissive v.2.0 and can be freely used by any map builders or location service providers.
  • Buildings: The Buildings layer features more than 780 million buildings footprints worldwide. The layer was developed by combining open data projects like OpenStreetMap, Microsoft AI-generated building footprints, and Esri.
  • Transportation: This layer shows a worldwide network of roads derived from the OpenStreetMap project. The data has been reformatted in the Overture data format, which OMF says provides consistent segmentation of the data and a linear reference system to support additions of data such as speed limits or real-time traffic.
  • Administrative Boundaries: This layer is a global open dataset of national and regional administrative boundaries and includes regional names which have been translated into over 40 different languages to support international use.

The Overture Places data layer includes almost 60 million places worldwide, OMF says. (Source: OMF)

OMF said in a statement the four layers combine various sources of open map data and have been validated and conflated through a series of quality checks. They are released in the Overture Maps data schema, available for download here. The Places of Interest dataset includes data on 59 million+ places worldwide as a foundational element of navigation, local search, and location-based apps.

This map data should be a shared asset to support future applications, the group wrote in a statement. Aside from its founding companies, OMF now has over a dozen mapping, geospatial, and technology companies including Esri, Cyient, InfraMappa, Nomoko, Precisely, PTV Group, SafeGraph, Sanborn, and Sparkgeo.

Marc Prioleau, executive director of OMF, said in a statement the new release is a significant step in establishing a comprehensive open map dataset for a constantly changing world. “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,” he said.

“Anyone who works in mapping knows that the initial data is just the beginning; the ongoing challenge lies in maintaining the data amidst constant changes to meet user expectations. Overture plans to build a broad collaboration that can build and maintain an up-to-date, comprehensive database of POIs,” said Prioleau.

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