Here launches OTA Connect, founds OneMap alliance in global ploy

Automotive mapping provider Here, the one owned by Audi, BMW, Daimler, and Intel, has announced a new service called OTA Connect, designed to provide mapping data and software updates to vehicles in a secure and timely fashion. Also announced was an agreement was the launch of the OneMap Alliance, which should help its HD Live Map platform take further hold in the market.

Here says it will combine the OTA Connect features into its existing software suite, although it is currently available in a standalone configuration. The system is based on Uptane, a security framework designed by a group US academics and funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. Advanced Telematics Systems (ATS) was one of the first OTA update providers to adopt Uptane, and Here acquired the company in December last year – providing the basis for OTA Connect.

Here says that governments are working to make OTA compliance mandatory, citing projects in the US DoT, the UK DoT, and Germany’s BMVI, as well as the global UN Task Force project – UNECE WP29, which is expected to issue a recommendation in mid-2018, and pass a potentially binding resolution in 2019.

Getting its foot in the door early makes a lot of sense, especially as Here tries to increase pressure on its main mapping rival, TomTom. Here has been expanding its global coverage, trying to provide automakers with a single option that would work in any market – with maps that are of high enough definition to be used in self-driving navigation.

Here seems to still be the leader in this market, and has influential backers. But it has had to broker agreements to get access to Chinese map data via NavInfo – which is one of the four founders of the new OneMap Alliance. The new industry group is fleshed out by SK Telecom (South Korea), and Increment P (Pioneer, Japan).

OneMap says it hopes to create a global, standardized, high-definition map by 2020, based on the specification that Here uses in its HD Live Map. Looking to attract more members, the group is looking for automotive, mobility, and smart city partners.

“Automakers building automated cars are thinking globally and want a HD map that can scale with them,” said Ralf Herrtwich, SVP Services at Here. “By sourcing from the OneMap Alliance partners, automakers get to leverage a map that is fully harmonized across regions, offering the same high quality for their vehicles in the U.S. as it does in Europe and Asia. This simplified way of sourcing the map will also help reduce automakers’ development time and unnecessary costs.”

While the other mapping providers are planning on benefiting from the cross-pollination, SK Telecom is most interested in the data platform and location services aspect of Here’s maps – specifically, the Open Location Platform. Over time, Here plans to use the cars using its platform to harvest all manner of data, which can then be expressed in the OLP and subsequently sold on. Such a platform would make a solid foundation for many of the services that a telco like SK would like to provide.

However, until TomTom comes to the table, this looks like it will be another example of a classic IoT alliance – the kind that usually descends into a game of ‘spot the notable absentee.’  Should OneMap gain an unsurmountable lead, TomTom might be compelled to join up, but it seems that the distinct two camps will remain in opposition for some time.

The potential for data sharing on such a platform is huge, but because it is a commercial venture, there will always be those wary of buying in. The transaction value of all the data trades could be a very lucrative opportunity for Here, but so far, it has stayed quiet on such matters. But there’s no practical way to create such a platform in an open source fashion, and so company’s like Here are going to have to take the reins, at least to begin with.