Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

User Generated Content, the new source for business listings and map databases?

August 11th, 2007 by MDob

Hi everybody.

Sorry for the recent lack of articles, but I was finishing a report that had a deadline. When I concluded writing and editing late Wednesday I never wanted to open Word again, or even sit in front of my monitors. Ok, so now it’s Saturday and time to start a new series.

As you know, I am interested in business listings database side of local search and how these databases are generated, verified, maintained, and categorized. I was researching User Generated Content (UGC) for the report I mentioned and found myself wondering how social networking, social search and UGC would influence the future of business listings databases.

Perhaps this was sparked by the proposed acquisition of TeleAtlas by TomTom, who claims (at least in the press) that the potential use of UGC to update maps was one of the prime reasons behind their strategy.

Earlier last week, I was listening to Navteq’s Earnings Conference Call. At the end, Judson Green, the CEO of the company, very noticeably mentioned that Navteq had significant experience gathering map error correction and update information from its users and suggested that the company would have an even bigger footprint in this area in the future. Recently Navteq announced that several major companies in the hospitality industry were providing hotel data listings directly to the company for inclusion in its business listings database.

Around the middle of this week, Google announced its Google Local Business Referrals Program , which is designed, at least at this point, to have non-employee representatives, who are also non-sales representatives, visit community businesses and gather information such as hours of operations, types of payments accepted, address, telephone contact information, and photographs, etc. Click this link to see the FAQ provided to people who would like to become business representatives.

What do these announcements mean for the providers of business listing databases? Can we expect more current listings, more accurate listings? What strategies could be used to find an effective way to collect and verify these types of data and data sources? Will businesses want to deal with each vendor on an individual basis? Or is this all just a pipe dream?

What will the TomTom’s strategy and Navteq’s response mean for the navigation industry? Are movements like Open Street Map causing real concern?

Sounds like some interesting questions to me, and I intend to take a much deeper look in my next few blogs.

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Posted in Data Sources, Local Search, Mapping, Navteq, TeleAtlas, TomTom, User Generated Content

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