Nokia's next-gen HERE maps will rely on crowdsourcing

Nokia hopes its Here maps will be become more accurate thanks to crowdsourced information, and is testing the concept in India.

The company will work directly with people from more than a dozen universities around India, including Mount Carmel College in Bangalore and the SAL Institute of Technology in Ahmedabad, the company said on Thursday.

The aim is to let local experts share their knowledge. Using a tool called Map Creator, they can add missing streets, bridges, points of interests and other information.

To maintain accuracy, the team at Here, Nokia's location and mapping unit and the brand name used on related services and apps, has built a "community map moderation system" that allows the company and the community to verify edits before integrating them into the base map. Once integrated, changes will become available across maps in cars, personal navigation devices, smartphones as well as in Web and enterprise clients.

The project in India is part of a series of pilot programs that Nokia is using to enhance its community mapping capabilities. The company didn't reveal when the capability would be rolled out on a wider scale.

Nokia is far from the only vendor that wants to crowdsource mapping data. Google organized a mapping contest in India earlier this year. In August, Google updated Maps with reports on accidents, construction, road closures via users of Waze, the community-based navigation company, which it acquired in June.

On Wednesday, Nokia also said the company will start updating offline maps incrementally. When users update maps, they will download only those roads and other features that have been added or changed.

On average, this means 85 percent to 90 percent less data will have to be downloaded and therefore users get a much faster update process, according to Nokia. The feature is being rolled out on all of Nokia's Windows Phone 8 smartphones with the latest firmware, it said.

Nokia is in the process of selling its Devices & Services business to Microsoft, but will keep Here and Nokia Solutions and Networks, its network infrastructure and services business unit.

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