New roads drive GPS upgrades [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]Naushad K. Cherrayil Staff ReporterAl Bawaba Ltd.
Drivers that use navigation devices "spend 18 per cent less time driving on average than those without navigation. This is an annual saving of four days less on the road," according to Gassan Freij, Sales and Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa, Nokia.
He should know as drivers are putting down old Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and picking up smartphones with navigation services to find their way around the roads. Around 25 per cent of cars on the road in 2010 used some type of navigation device, "we expect this to increase to 55.7 per cent in 2015, equivalent to 552 million users," Sythoff said.
Many are using Google Maps or OVi Maps in smartphones for navigating their way around. There are also a range of navigation apps available, including TeleNav, Wisepilot, iCoyote and UbiNa, CoPilot, MotionX, Navigon and TomTom and Bing Maps.
But, how accurate are they. "We rely on our local presence and a team of 150 field analysts to survey and drive road networks using our proprietary data collection technology. In addition, we collect, aggregate and process anonymous user activity data sent back to us from connected devices such as smartphones to detect changes in road networks and to help us improves maps further. This is a win-win as users get back the benefit of these improvements," said Freij.
"Our operational strategy relies on creating local presence in every country as far as possible to ensure high-quality maps and content. Where this is not possible due to specific country reasons, then we use local partners who with appropriate training use our tools to collect data on our behalf and according to our requirements and standards," he added.
According to Ammar Ebrahim, Product Manager for Google, map data comes from a combination of many sources, including the relevant official authorities like the Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA) in the UAE, as well as user contributions.
"We believe users are the best experts about their locales and have received great feedback about empowering people to map their world. This is why we have developed Map Maker which is an online tool that allows users to contribute and edit map data for certain regions. This is part of a broader effort to improve the detail, comprehensiveness and quality of mapping data around the world," he said.
"It's an ongoing process and we are constantly working to improve the quality and accuracy of the information available in Google Maps," Ebrahim said.
"Our global database comprises more than 38 million road kilometres and we make more than 2.4 million daily changes. This is a huge undertaking. When it comes to Dubai or GCC at large, rate of change is extremely rapid due to massive development which continues apace," Freij said.
"Whilst our teams drive road networks daily, we employ carefully targeted update strategies to ensure freshest maps with an ever growing product portfolio.In this way we collect new data road curvature, road slope, lane width. In general, we update our product on a quarterly basis," he said.
Some apps provide live traffic data and 3D capabilities for drivers.