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

UGC, Map Updating and Market Segmentation

February 21st, 2008 by MDob

Last time we indicated that we would take a crack at trying to diagnose which companies might be able to employ UGG in map and map-related updating to their advantage. So let’s take the next step and segment the industry based on UGC. In order to do so we need to make a couple of detours before we get there.

While thinking through the markets and players, I realized that I needed to further dichotomize UGC and map updating into “passive” and “active” User Assisted Map Updating (UAMU).

Passive UAMU refers to probes equipped with a two-way communication channel (e.g. cars equipped with GPS devices or phones equipped with GPS devices) that reports the probe’s path while it is traveling through a transportation network. By analyzing these paths, you could determine traffic flows and potentially the “near real-time” geometry of a street network, including turn restrictions, directionality, time of day restrictions, etc. In such a system, the human is effectively a probe, but a dumb one. The person does not report back any information; instead their role is merely to transport the recording device from location to location so that it can communicate data.

What I have been focusing on in this column is “active” User Assisted Map Updating, in which the user is involved in determining and reporting selective map update information that is important, or perhaps, noticed by them.

At this point, it might be useful to point out that there is a growing negative opinion about UGC and map updating, which, in my opinion, reflects a lack of understanding about the advantages and prospects for UAMU. While several companies have suggested they are going to use UGC to create navigable databases, or to create databases that will meet their needs for Local Search, I find these statements lack credibility. I suspect these comments are positioning statements made by companies negotiating contracts with Navteq or TeleAtlas, or companies that would like to attract naive investors and go home millionaires. So, let me be clear – Creating a navigation database based on UGC that could match the offerings of Navteq or TeleAtlas is a pipe dream. On the other hand, using UCG or UAMU to improve the quality of existing navigation databases while helping to decrease data collection costs is clearly a promising strategy.

Key Factors

The companies likely to use and benefit from UAMU are those that have a customer facing brand and would receive a benefit from having maps or map data (streets, roads, addresses, POIs, etc) more up-to-date than those offered by their competitors.

Another condition is that these companies must be able to use the map update process to directly benefit their product by being able to fuse these updates with the map data they use or own. UGC will be also used by companies other than navigation map suppliers. Although not all companies will aspire to a comprehensive User Assisted Map Updating program, anyone supplying their customers with information on locations should consider improving the spatial aspects of their databases through UGC

The simple statements above help to distribute the beneficiaries of UAMU into several camps. Let’s take a look at the following “rough-cut” of the industry. (I realize that there are overlaps in the categorizations, but some of the players in this industry. Google and Microsoft, for example, have an enormous appetite for spatial data, primarily related to their Local Search/advertising that requires accurate geotargeting. They require not only that the addresses and contact information be correct, but that the mapped location allow them to deliver a customer to the merchants door (a new take on Direct Store Delivery (DSD)!

Possible beneficiaries of User Assisted Map Updating

For a larger version of this graphic, download this PDF file that contains a full sized version of the image.

Next time, let’s take a brief look at the categories of participants and how they might benefit from UGC. While we are at it, why not take a crack at prognosticating the winners and losers?

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Data Sources, map updating, Mapping, User Generated Content, where20

(comments are closed).