The July edition of GeoBLR featured Rahul RS from Onze Technologies. Onze is the prefered store locator infrastructure by several businesses in India including TVS, Dell and Cafe Coffee Day. The store locator is powered by Onze’s very own Latlong.in – extensive, web based points of interest and map data interface.
Rahul shared the story of Latlong.in, their infrastructure and challenges mapping Indian cities. They started out in 2007 at a time when there was no reasonable geographic data source available for India – commercial and non-commercial. Rahul’s team gathered toposheets from the Survey of India and georeferenced boundaries to incorporate into their maps. Rahul pointed out that these are inexpensive but high effort tasks. Plus, tools to do these are expensive.
In order to address India-specific mapping needs, geo-rectification needed to be inevitably supported by field surveys. Each city is unique and people entirely depend on landmarks and hyperlocal information to get around. Rahul brought in experts from different areas to gather local information. “The idea behind Latlong.in starts by saying that addresses don’t work in India”, says Rahul. When OpenStreetMap picked up, Latlong.in moved to a mix of their data and OSM that was maintained on their own. It is a complicated effort. Conflation and dealing with multiple revisions of data is tricky and there aren’t great tools to deal with it effortlessly. Latlong.in follows Survey of India’s National Map Policy. They avoid mapping defence and high security features.
Owning the entire data experience is critical to win in this market. Remaining open and improving continuously is the only way to keep your datasets upto date.