Data advocacy group wants Apple and others to give away mapping data in UK

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Data advocacy group Open Data Institute (ODI) has filed a report with the UK government suggesting large companies like Apple, Google and Uber should be compelled to share their collective mapping data to help smaller companies innovate.

Apple pedestrian data gathering
Apple pedestrian data gathering


Large tech firms have created a monopoly on mapping data which has stifled innovation from small companies and startups, the ODI argues. Opening this information up for others to use would not only grant wide access to more comprehensive mapping data, but would allow smaller companies to iterate on their respective technologies. Drone delivery services and self-driving cars were offered as examples of products that would benefit from open map data.

The report concludes geospatial data is a "vital resource in the digital age" and used throughout most aspects of life. Between $7 billion and $14 billion could be generated for the country if mapping data was shared, according to a previous UK government estimate.

"The large companies are becoming more like data monopolies and that doesn't give us the best value from our data," Jeni Tennison, chief executive of the Open Data Institute, said in a statement to The Verge.

ODI is not an unknown organization in the UK, and carries some clout of its own. It was founded in-part by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, alongside an AI professor out of the University of Oxford, Nigel Shadbolt.

There is no word on what the UK government plans to do, if they are mulling a decision to act on the matter or if there is much demand for such a change.

Apple has been investing in a ground-up rework of its first-party mapping product for years. The project involves vans outfitted with specialized equipment that initially surveyed streets in California before spreading across the U.S. and into other countries. More recently, the company started collecting pedestrian data from person-mounted positioning systems to improve walking directions and capture previously undocumented pathways.

A considerable behind-the-scenes effort parses raw data using specialized software, the results of which are digested, refined and ultimately pushed out to users in Maps.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,057moderator
    Give away?  Or be compelled to offer for sale?   Neither seems very fair.

    Apple:  Let’s let Google and Uber gather the data.  We’ll just use theirs.

    Google:  Sorry, we’re going to stop gathering and use Apple’s and Uber’s data.

    Uber: Don’t look at us.  We’re thinking we’ll use your data.  You two have deeper pockets to spend on gathering. 
    netmagecommand_fcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 26
    Rubbish!!!

    In ASEAN locations, we have communities that willingly participate in free mapping efforts. Large firms such as Garmin even collaborate with these communities as they are frequently quick to update POIs and new Roads, changes to traffic controls/flows. Examples of such communities are MalSingMap (aka MSM) and MalFreeMap (aka MFM).

    If the UK government allows this to go through its legislation, it will only deter large firms from investing their R&D dollars in UK. Which business will invest in something on a long term if it is not able to make revenue out of that investment?

    ODI just doesn’t talk business sense at all.
    netmagecommand_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 26
    entropys said:
    Other Peoples’ Money is always the best to spend.
    Did those companies complain when the Ordnance Survey, the UK government mapping agency, was required to give their data away for free?
  • Reply 4 of 26
    Give away?  Or be compelled to offer for sale?   Neither seems very fair.

    Apple:  Let’s let Google and Uber gather the data.  We’ll just use theirs.

    Google:  Sorry, we’re going to stop gathering and use Apple’s and Uber’s data.

    Uber: Don’t look at us.  We’re thinking we’ll use your data.  You two have deeper pockets to spend on gathering. 
    Is it fair other agencies are required to provide their data to these private companies? Why should the UK tax payer fund these companies?
    airnerd
  • Reply 5 of 26
    Just like paying tax. They should share some level of basic data, not all, not all the details. 
    coolfactorairnerd
  • Reply 6 of 26
    I don’t understand how smaller companies can’t collect the data that Apple, et al, have already collected. It’s not as if access to the roads is now blocked. 

    I bet there are a lot of smaller companies that would like to get access to Google’s data on searches. That would probably be a big help to some of them. Maybe ODI should ask for that. 

    What about Amazon’s customer habit/buying data? Maybe save a few of those mom and pop shops or help a new startup know where to focus. Come on, ODI, stop slacking!
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 26
    gc_uk said:
    Give away?  Or be compelled to offer for sale?   Neither seems very fair.

    Apple:  Let’s let Google and Uber gather the data.  We’ll just use theirs.

    Google:  Sorry, we’re going to stop gathering and use Apple’s and Uber’s data.

    Uber: Don’t look at us.  We’re thinking we’ll use your data.  You two have deeper pockets to spend on gathering. 
    Is it fair other agencies are required to provide their data to these private companies? Why should the UK tax payer fund these companies?
    Aren’t those companies also large tax payers?
    netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 26
    I agree that geo data should be shared, to a degree (no pun intended).


    edited November 2018 airnerd
  • Reply 9 of 26
    Aren’t those companies also large tax payers?
    You don’t follow the news much, do you..
  • Reply 10 of 26
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,057moderator
    gc_uk said:
    Give away?  Or be compelled to offer for sale?   Neither seems very fair.

    Apple:  Let’s let Google and Uber gather the data.  We’ll just use theirs.

    Google:  Sorry, we’re going to stop gathering and use Apple’s and Uber’s data.

    Uber: Don’t look at us.  We’re thinking we’ll use your data.  You two have deeper pockets to spend on gathering. 
    Is it fair other agencies are required to provide their data to these private companies? Why should the UK tax payer fund these companies?
    Simple.  Choice.  Presumably the UK tax payer has a vote in who runs their country.  
    netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 26
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,712member
    gc_uk said:
    Give away?  Or be compelled to offer for sale?   Neither seems very fair.

    Apple:  Let’s let Google and Uber gather the data.  We’ll just use theirs.

    Google:  Sorry, we’re going to stop gathering and use Apple’s and Uber’s data.

    Uber: Don’t look at us.  We’re thinking we’ll use your data.  You two have deeper pockets to spend on gathering. 
    Is it fair other agencies are required to provide their data to these private companies? Why should the UK tax payer fund these companies?
    I think you are missing a better option here. How about these parasite businesses pay to access, regardless if it is from some company or the government? 
    corporate socialism (socialise the costs, privatise the profits) never ends well.
    edited November 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 26
    Looks like Ralph Nader must have given up on the U.S. and is trying his luck in U.K.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 26
    payecopayeco Posts: 301member
    I can sympathize with the goal but things like this are why large tech companies don’t come out of Europe. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 26
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,604member
    gc_uk said:
    entropys said:
    Other Peoples’ Money is always the best to spend.
    Did those companies complain when the Ordnance Survey, the UK government mapping agency, was required to give their data away for free?
    Except that Ordance Survey doesn’t give their data away for free.

    Ordance Survey charges businesses for use of the more useful mapping layers such as land parcelling, water networks, and of course, the Topography layer. Oh, and the address database isn’t free either. 

    https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-and-government/products/finder.html

    Source: me

    I’ve worked on a couple of government-based land mapping projects in the past. 

    What you find with government departments is that the free stuff isn’t suitable for business use, so then you have to negotiate a license. I’ve also found that the “open” font the government uses for websites (and traffic signs) cannot be uses on sites outside the government domain. So it’s not really open. Disappointing, because it’s a very nice font. However, it cost money to develop it, so I don’t see why they should give it away at the taxpayers’ expense.

    Likewise, it costs to map the U.K., so businesses should be charged for its use. (Which they are). 

    Likewise, it costs businesses to do their own mapping, so I don’t see why it should be given away at the shareholders’ expense. 
    edited November 2018 sphericwatto_cobrabeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 15 of 26
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,834member
    Isn't Open Street Map a thing?  I think Apple was even using it for a while (though did they ever contribute back?)
    command_f
  • Reply 16 of 26
    LatkoLatko Posts: 387member
    Considering geodata public domain is in contradiction with commercial data collection by the kinds of Nokia, TomTom and hundreds of others. There is no mono- or oligopoly here (like there is in Music Streaming, Appstores)
  • Reply 17 of 26
    Those waskely Communists, what’s yours is mine, what’s mine is mine...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 26
    mubaili said:
    Just like paying tax. They should share some level of basic data, not all, not all the details. 
    No.  Must Ford give away some free cars? Must McDonalds give away some free hamburgers?

    Mapping data is an asset that Apple (and other companies) invested in creating. They own that asset and should not be forced by Robin Hood governments to give it away for free.

    See also: “Anti Dog Eat Dog Rule” (Ayn Rand) for the immorality of this approach
    edited November 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 26
    crowley said:
    Isn't Open Street Map a thing?  I think Apple was even using it for a while (though did they ever contribute back?)
    Indeed it is: https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=6/54.915/-3.428 and its existence is relevant to the proposal.

    The proposal is not sensible. A company (eg Google, Apple) invests a whole lot of money to create a competitive advantage (ie make their products more useful to their customers that their competitors' products are). They're then expected to give it away so all their competitors can use, thus removing the competitive advantage that was the reason for investing the money in the first place.

    Why would any company invest in mapping?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 26
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,834member
    I don't even fully understand the complaint.  Apps and web services can use Apple and Google's map data, subject to terms and conditions, because Apple and Google make this data available, albeit Apple only on apps in mac/iOS, and Google probably requires you to show data that benefits Google in advertising.  Uber less so

    What innovation is being blocked by the current situation?
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