MapQuest Technology and Applications

By Joe Francica

In 1991 the folks at Reader's Digest contracted the cartographic services group at R.R.Donnelley & Sons to develop and produce a road atlas of the United States and various cities, which was later published under the Travel Guide USA title.R.R.Donnelley, who had been publishing maps since 1967, invested more than $3 million to build a database from which the Reader's Digest product was derived."Our origins go back to printed road map products made available in gas stations.Only with the success that MapQuest has had over the years can we see how truly visionary these print maps and the associated country-wide mapping database was," said Walt Doyle, Vice President and General Manager of MapQuest Business Solutions. "The roots of MapQuest were developed from that database."

In 1994, what was then the Mapping Services division of R.R.Donnelley & Sons re-established itself as an independent company called GeoSystems Global Corporation (GGC). During this time, AAA, the premier U.S.automobile club, asked GeoSystems to automate its popular TripTik routing system.To develop a successful AAA customized system, GGC added routable mapping code to the database.New business-to-business licensing deals began to materialize as well-known organizations like National Geographic, which wanted the GGC products branded under their name to launch a retail map presence, and companies like Federal Express and Exxon sought GGC's talents for customized products that identified their business locations for the consumer.

In February 1996, GGC launched the Web site."We were the first to market an online travel Web site, generating a million hits in the first month," said Doyle. "The launch of the Web site created what we know today as the online mapping space and did a great deal to promote the adoption of location based services." As a result of this success, GGC changed its name to just before it went public in 1999.America Online acquired in 2000 and since then, more than 2,000 mapping systems have been developed for the service.

MapQuest, a wholly owned subsidiary of America Online, Inc., is the result of a 30-year evolution of mapping and technology, which has made it a world leader in online mapping and driving directions, and location based solutions for business partners and consumers.MapQuest is ranked within the top 10 most powerful U.S. brands on the Internet by NetRatings and is the number one mapping site and number one travel site by comScore Media Metrix.MapQuest is based in Denver, CO and Mountville, PA, and has three business units:

  • receives more than 26 million visitors every month and serves up over 10 million maps and directions each day.
  • MapQuest Business Solutions: allows businesses to map-enable their Web sites, company Intranet and call-center applications for improved marketing and customer service functionality.
  • MapQuest Mapping Services: a leading provider of mapping content, product packaging, and cartographic services to publishers and corporations.
See additional information about MapQuest Products and the MapQuest System Architecture.

Published Friday, March 26th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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