This is where enters United Maps, a small, agile, quality-driven German company which motto is “filling the gaps in the map”. By merging licensed cartographic data sets and routing information, United Maps generates content-rich and fully routable vector maps, enabling pedestrian navigation and multimodal
United Maps‘ unique technology is about merging different data sets such as digital maps by NAVTEQ or Tele Atlas and cartographic data sets from national mapping authorities. In the case of Germany, United Maps has used databases from the German National Survey Office and from the Federal Office of Cartography and Geodesy (BKG) on top of a NAVTEQ base map.
The competitive advantage of United Maps is in the sophistication of their “conflation” algorithms; conflation being the process of combining geographic information from overlapping sources so as to retain accurate data, minimize redundancy, and reconcile data conflicts. These algorithms are able to merge multiple sources containing streets, foot paths, rail lines, waterways, supply networks while maintaining a correct and professional topology. After conflation, the data is processed through a digital workflow which includes editorial addition and quality assurance.
In addition to this pure technological know-how, United Maps staff also has a strong knowledge of the European mapping landscape. “In Europe, mapping is a people’s business: to do what we do you need to know each of the 33 different national mapping agencies across Europe” explains Stefan Knecht, CIO at United Maps. “This is a very fragmented market with cultural and language barriers. In addition to that they generate 18 different map formats and every agency has its own set of map attributes. Our team has built relationships with these agencies over many years and is mastering this heterogeneous data set.”
Why does it matter?
According to research firm Berg Insight, the GPS-enabled GSM/WCDMA handset market is to reach 770 million devices in 2014.With location becoming ubiquitous on their cell phones, consumers are now looking for maps that go far beyond the turn-by-turn in-car navigation experience. Whether walking or riding mass transit, consumers expect a detailed representation of the reality around them that relates to their mode of transportation. United Maps’ technology allows just that: pedestrian navigation and orientation as well as multimodal routing that combine walk, drive and ride.
With its unique feature set, United Maps targets mobile use cases and location-based media and services that need professional quality maps beyond conventional standards.
United Maps offers products (comprehensively mapped countries, regions or cities) and also project services to its customers. As a first product, United Maps has started shipping ‘UM-DE‘, its nationwide map of Germany at the hyperlocal scale of 1:2,000. Based on NAVTEQ primary data and conflated with the ATKIS data of BKG and additional data from AdV, this map is fully navigable and has been massively enriched with content and original features such as additional streets, paths and squares, public locations; building footprints with their exact point addresses, public mass transport, touristic, cultural and many more quality-assured Points of Interest.
Thanks to its sophisticated technology, United Maps was able to achieve ‘UM-DE” in less than six months with limited staff resources. With a recent funding from leading venture capital firms, United Maps has even accelerated the production of additional European countries and further 200 worldwide regions and cities are scheduled for a hyperlocal mapping makeover.
Stefan Knecht, CIO and co-founder
United Maps GmbH
Phone: +49 89 4521 393 0