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The goal of the Overture Maps Foundation is to build interoperable open map data for anyone needing enterprise-quality map data to build map services.

To make that happen, the highest quality open geospatial data sources must be conflated, combining data sets from various community, government, and private sources into unified themes.

Jennings Anderson, a research scientist at Meta specializing in open map data, recently sat down with Mapscaping host Daniel O’Donohue to discuss how Overture Maps Foundation’s work complements OpenStreetMaps and describe Overture’s geospatial data conflation strategy for building high-quality, interoperable open map data. 

Jennings emphasizes the importance of a stable ID system within Overture and the potential for easy conflation and integration of third-party datasets. Overture’s system, called the Global Entity Reference System (GERS), connects a wide variety of datasets built by different organizations to the same real-world map features, in a simple, unambiguous way. 

GERS involves assigning unique GERS IDs on a massive scale. Eventually, unique GERS IDs will be assigned to every real-world object across four themes, including Places of Interest (POIs), Buildings, Transportation Network, and Administrative Boundaries. In order of magnitude, that will include hundreds of millions of buildings, over 100 million places globally that have never before been released as open data, and tens of millions of road segments and administrative boundaries. 

Since open map data can lack the structure needed to easily build map products, Jennings discusses Overture’s process of defining and driving the adoption of a common, well-structured, and documented data schema. The schema will be applied to each of the datasets to normalize attributes, for example, reporting building heights in meters rather than feet or inches, in order to make the data easy-to-access and interoperable for users looking for combined open map data that’s already conflated. 

Overture is building out its four themes and using GERS and structured data schema to release an easy-to-use, cloud-native ecosystem of map data that gives developers control over the data they feed into their mapping services.

Listen to the podcast here.