This week, Tele Atlas (TA) announced the first release of their global street network that is augmented with data from TomTom Map Share, a service offered to users of TomTom portable navigation devices (PND) that allows them to independently report a variety of road network changes including impedences, new signage, etc. The feedback is sent to TA, a TomTom company, but as a consequence of collecting so much additional data, TA recognized that it was also capturing new road geometry not previously mapped.
Users of TomTom PNDs have the option of providing feedback in a few different ways. One is to manually indicate road blockages, for example, but another is to share certain bits of data such as speed and position. As it turns out,TomTom users were leaving their PNDs on even in areas where there was sparse or no road coverage such as certain regions of Eastern Europe. This feedback made it’s way to TA database managers that are recognizing that new road segments were being added to the community contributed data. This new information allows the company to selectively dispatch crews to verify new road geometry and perhaps identify pockets of new users for additional marketing and advertising.
I spoke to Mr.
into the TA road database. He also informed me about TA’s historical speed profiles which are now being incorporated into traffic information. TA began collecting speed information in 2006 and now has a database of historical profiles in 5 minute increments for various times of day and now over months of time. Essentially, TomTom users are acting as probes on the street network collecting a vast amount of data that now equals twice the entire road network of Europe every 24 hours according to Mr. Desmet. He believes this is a unique service that TomTom provides to users.