The Future of Driving ist HERE

The data-driven mapping company’s Open Location Platform offers almost unlimited potential for innovation – both on- and off-road.

August, 2017

In 100 meters, take the right turn to merge onto the A2,” suggests the familiar voice of your GPS. You follow the command, only to find that the way is blocked due to construction work which the system had not computed. The result: a long detour, a missed appointment and a bad mood. This common scenario presents a real problem for the manufacturers of navigation systems, and an opportunity to provide the edge in a highly-competitive market.

In the growing location ecosystem, one company is quickly pulling ahead of the pack. HERE locates its origins back to 2007, when the Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia acquired Chicago-based mapping industry insider Navteq and later amalgamated it into Nokia Maps. In 2012, Nokia rebranded the service as HERE, bundling mapping, location businesses, satellite navigation and other services. But HERE’s biggest boost came in 2015, when it was bought by a consortium of Germany’s three leading car manufacturers, BMW, Audi and Daimler, for €2.8bn. Then this year Intel acquired a 15 per cent stake.

Ways of the world

With 7,500 employees covering 150 cities worldwide, HERE aims to make its Open Location Platform (OLP) the global leader in location services, supporting everything from smartphone apps to autonomous vehicles, smart cities and intelligent transportation systems.

“We have already created new services that bring the Open Location Platform into action with our next-generation automotive services – Road Hazard Warning, ­Real-­Time Traffic, Road Sign Recognition and On-Street Parking,” says Sebastian Kurme, head of media relations at HERE. “These services gather the data from sensors in vehicles belonging to third parties – automotive companies – analyze and publish it back to everyone using the systems. Other car manufacturers will be free to add their own data to the pool, making the system ever stronger for everyone who subscribes to it.”

Self-driving vehicles are also on HERE’s radar. The company’s HD Live Map service provides reliable, constantly-updated maps that plot every coming lane, obstacle and speed limit, and enables autonomous vehicles to move safely in ever-changing environments and make informed decisions on behalf of the driver.

The keyword is “open”

Although HERE recently announced that the number of OLP cars sold worldwide has passed the 100m mark, the platform is not solely auto-focused. The firm also provides services to Amazon, Facebook, FedEx, Micro­soft, Samsung and SAP, among others. The platform, says Kurme, “is open to anybody and will allow data owners, developers and others to add, mix and manipulate data for themselves, or for other people tapping into the platform, like never before.”

“Imagine, for example, a city authority might wish to make public the locations of their newly-installed EV charging points,” he continues. “A developer might then use the OLP to create an app that leads motorists to their nearest charging station using HERE routing services. And that’s just a taste; what if that information was parcel delivery ETAs, 4G/WiFi coverage, bus timetables, popular ice cream flavors or anything else you might imagine?” HERE’s innovative platform puts it in the driver’s seat not only for autonomous transport but for the coming era of the Internet of Things and Big Data. As its CEO Edzard Overbeek said when the OLP was launched, “These new services are just the beginning.”