The TomTom Maps Platform

TomTom corporate logoEarlier this month, at its investor meeting, TomTom announced that it was launching something called the TomTom Maps Platform. The announcement was, because of where it was made, long on investor-focused jargon: growth, innovation, etc., so it’s not immediately clear what it will mean.

Basically, TomTom is building a map ecosystem that can be built on by developers and businesses: an apparent shot across the bow at the Google Maps ecosystem. And indeed that’s how The Next Web sees it: an attempt to “wrestle control” of digital mapping away from Silicon Valley.

TomTom plans to do so by combining map data from its own data, third-party sources, sensor data, and OpenStreetMap. I’ve been around long enough to know that combining disparate map data sources is neither trivial nor easy. It’s also very labour intensive. TomTom says they’ll be using AI and machine learning to automate that process. It’ll be a real accomplishment if they can make it work. It may actually be a very big deal. I suspect it may also be the only way to make this platform remotely any good and financially viable at the same time.

TomTom Says Its Algorithms Avoid Potentially Dangerous Routes

It probably has nothing to do with Google redirecting traffic up poorly maintained mountain roads during a blizzard in California last month (previously), but TomTom has posted a piece explaining how its algorithms avoid sending drivers down potentially dangerous routes in Finland even though, on paper, they’re shorter.

TomTom’s routing and location technology recognizes that the shorter route to Koli National Park is on winding unpaved roads, made up of sand and gravel, and it takes that into consideration when computing a route for a driver. It places significant importance on this information. […] Even though the unpaved route is shorter, it’s still not considered “better” than the longer paved route when all things are considered. If map data didn’t include this contextual data about the specific road, the unpaved road would most likely be the default route suggestion.