Mobile mapping market grows on back of crowd-sourced data despite imperfections

Crowd sourcing of information may be one of the few drags on the rapid growth of the mobile mapping market globally, according to a new report by Global Market Insights.

The mobile mapping market was estimated to be worth $14 billion USD last year and is projected to grow at a rate of 15 per cent through to 2024, according to the industry trends report published in September. A big driver of demand for mobile mapping data comes from the telecommunication and transportation sectors, which use it for asset and fleet management, construction decision-making, and maintenance of networks.

mobile mapping market revenue by component
U.S. mobile mapping market revenue, by component. Image from Global Market Insights.

Prior to mobile mapping data, these sectors relied on images provided from aerial photography services, which was more time consuming and much more expensive. With the development of mature 4G networks and always-improving computing power available in our pockets, many people now commonly access navigation apps with their smartphones.

Not only are those users consuming the mapping service, they’re also contributing to it. The Global Market Insights report description notes its one source of hindrance for the market:

“The growing concerns regarding the data accuracy of the technology have restricted the mobile mapping market demand. In GIS applications, the primary basis of classification and abstraction is based on the real-world phenomena. The users decide the amount of information to be used and its classification into various categories. Nevertheless, the users sometimes misclassify the information, reducing the accuracy of mobile mapping solutions.”

Google is listed as one of the top vendors in the mapping space by the report, alongside Apple and Baidu in leveraging mobile mapping solutions. It launched its Local Guides program in 2015, which encourages users of Google Maps to add information about places they visit and rewards them with points and ranked status in a community.

Toronto is one of the most active of such communities, with 1,897 members at present in the Toronto Canada Local Guides Community, billed as “the coolest guides in the 6ix.” Richard Trus, a visual technologist, is one of the administrators of the group. He’s known for being spotted walking around Toronto wearing a 360-camera mounted to a helmet, to contribute to creating a 3D map representation of Canada’s largest city.

“The next evolution of maps are 3D maps,” he said in a 2017 interview with IT World Canada. “When you get into things like drones and driverless cars, you need three dimensions, so you know approximately where everything is.”

Trus works with local businesses to make their information more complete on Google Maps, which is an important way to reach prospective customers, he says.

mobile mapping market diagram
A diagram showing the components of the mobile mapping market, provided by Global Market Insights.

North America is projected by the report to remain the leading region in the mapping market, with a 40 per cent stake in the market. It also helps that Silicon Valley is home to so many of the technology firms competing in the space.

The next step in this market may combine mobile mapping applications with detailed aerial photography from another source, drones. For example, earlier this year Lecia Geosystems partnered with Aibotix and DJI to build new UAV mapping and surveying apps.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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