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4 Map Trends You Need to Pay Attention To in 2017

These four trends are here to stay.

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The digitization of business has had an impact on both traditional and online businesses. In particular, the way companies are using  and making maps has totally entered a new era of possibilities.  At Base, we believe that maps can totally change the game for marketing, sales, operations and business intelligence departments by giving a true representation of the world in physical space.

During recent years, we’ve seen major shifts in how businesses are utilizing maps.  5 years a go map technology stack was an afterthought.  It is not becoming a focal point and competitive advantage for companies who know how to use the power of maps.

Here are the top 4 trends that are unfolding in a big way for 2017:

1.  Maps as a platform

One of the biggest trends of 2017 will be more companies utilizing maps as THE platform as opposed to playing a supporting role in applications.  Apple maps was not the first to address this but their announcement about “extensions” certainly brought the “maps as a platform” concept to a wider audience.  Apple explains that “with new extensions, apps like OpenTable can integrate bookings right into Maps, and services like Uber and Lyft can make it easier for users to book a ride, without ever leaving the Maps app. Maps is even smarter with new intelligence that proactively delivers directions to where you most likely want to go next, based on your routine or appointments on your calendar. Once a route is planned, Maps can search along the route for gas stations, restaurants, coffee shops and more and provides an estimate of how the stop impacts the length of your trip.”  With mobile devices providing so much data, the fact that developers will be able to utilize this data to enhance Apple’s map app is a no brainer.  Building on top of Apple Maps is not necessarily a done deal though,  just ask Facebook, Airbnb and Uber all who have chosen to develop on platforms other than Apple Maps.

Apple maps wants to be platform, not a stand alone app for directions

2.  Real time data on a map

UBER was one of the first mobile applications to clearly demonstrate the amazing convenience and power of real time data on a map.  Viewing a service provider or your UBER car coming to pick you up is not only a great consumer experience, it’s also a powerful advantage that helped the company grow in a viral way.  The below map by https://www.shipmap.org/ is another striking example of what can be done when you put massive amounts of data on the map.  It puts the user in control in a whole new way to seek out information, trends and status.  Looking at this shipping data in a database would not illuminate any of the fascinating finds that can be seen when viewing it through the lens of a moving map.

3.  Fusing data sources on a map

Real time data is taken to the next level when you start to pair several, dozens or hundreds of different data points on a map.  This is when maps can start acting as a central command and control for information fusion.  Information or sensor fusion is the combining of data derived from disparate sources such that the resulting information has less uncertainty than would be possible when these sources were used individually.  In the context of maps, this can be as simple as combining crime and walk score data when doing home purchase research or as advanced as looking at AIS ship data along with weather sources and known terrorist data to predict and re-route logistics operations. As you can start to imagine, the combination of valuable data sources that can be paired together into crucially important information is endless. This is one of the main areas Base is focusing on unlocking in  2017 for personal and commercial applications alike.

A Palantir map mashes up multiple data points to add intelligence for analysts.

4.  Controlling ioT, Drones, Automation & Robots (On A Map)

The internet of the things, drones, automated data connectors and robots are all contributing to the mind-boggling amounts of data that is being created on a daily basis.  Maps have become an important tool for giving users a way to instruct and command these technologies on what to do.  From planning a flight path for a drone to viewing autonomous vehicles data, maps have become central to a wide variety of use cases in these emerging technology fields.

A map of a drone flight path in the agricultural sector