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TomTom: Big data will fuel self-driving car innovation

13/05/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


Sat Nav firm Tom Tom uses big data in a big way. The mapping company has integrated big data to improve its services for over a decade and doesn't plan to stop there.

TomTom even claimed at an event in its home town of Amsterdam last monththat it was one of the first to take advantage of big data.

"We are good at big data. We started before everyone else and this is why we lead the way today," said the company in an announcement of its longer-term strategy, which includes plans to power products and services to "address real needs with new innovation".

We spoke to TomTom co-founder Pieter Geelen (above), who told us how the firm realised the value of big data through its achievements in Map Share, a service that allows users to make improvements to a map and share them with other TomTom users.

"I remember a board meeting in 2006 when we were discussing the success of Map Share. The service was strategic for us: competition was heating up, and everybody used the same map data which, in that sense, made all products equal," said Geelen.

"Now our customers are sharing thousands of improvements a day, making their map and their experience better than other brands'. It was a self-reinforcing advantage: we had more users than any other brand, and more users meant more improvements meant better maps meant even more users."

However, the success of Map Share made it difficult to check the corrections for accuracy, so in 2006 TomTom had the idea of gathering anonymous speed measurements from customers so it could check certain map corrections.

For example, if someone reported a road closure, TomTom could check its speed measurements data to see whether cars were travelling on that road.

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