For futuristic cities, Location Intelligence can be used to analyze and predict traffic routes, weather patterns, redesign infrastructure, create intelligent mobility solutions, says Nikhil Kumar, Country Head – India, HERE Technologies, in an exclusive interview with Geospatial World.
Being a leading mapping and location data services company, how do you foresee transformation in the location sector ten years from now, particularly in a rapidly expanding economy like India?
In the last couple of decades, the way we communicate and live has undergone a drastic change, thanks to the increased penetration of affordable mobile devices combined with Cloud computing, analytics and the rise of smart consumer. The next wave of growth will come from a world that is more connected and advanced. The Internet of Things (IoT) will pave the way for such a world. With 5G gradually expanding in the region, it is only a matter of time before India reaps the benefits of these developments. NASSCOM has predicted that the IoT market in India is expected to reach $15 billion by 2020, accounting for nearly 5% of the global market. Industry estimates also suggest that industrial IoT is expected to surpass the consumer IoT space in 2020, thereby enabling the need to incorporate Location Intelligence into business operations, especially in sectors like healthcare, smart cities, transport and logistics.
From a business standpoint, the government’s supportive stance through programs such as ‘Digital India’, ‘Smart cities’ and ‘Make in India’ have already opened new avenues, whether it is developing smart devices, smart cities, connected homes or connected vehicles. In other words, location will continue to be a driving force behind many of these products. As India looks to create ‘cities of future’, the insights derived from Location Intelligence can be used to analyze and predict traffic routes, weather patterns, redesign infrastructure, create intelligent mobility solutions, develop better waste management programs through fleet management and deliver public welfare and healthcare schemes to citizens at their doorstep.
We will also see India leading the innovations space with a lot of focus in the research and development of emerging technologies. India will lead the innovations with startups and companies creating products and platforms that would cater to a global audience and challenges.
Does HERE have any smart mobility initiatives and interactive traffic management solutions specially tailored for India?
At HERE Technologies, we are primarily business-to-business (B2B) focused and have been providing some of the most advanced digital maps for the automotive industry globally, with 100 million cars getting its maps and content from us since 2010. In India, we have partnered with some of the big automakers such as Maruti Suzuki, Daimler, Land Rover, Ford India, Toyota and Volvo India.
For Hyundai Venue, we have collaborated to offer real-time traffic navigation and live local search. We are in the process of identifying partners in India’s two-wheeler segment for navigation maps.
On the other hand, we are also focused on building a large and comprehensive set of places of information on maps that can be translated and transliterated, along with minute and point addressing that helps drivers, passengers and customers alike. We also recently partnered with Intellicar India for enhancing our GPS probe data.
This partnership will allow us to significantly improve the availability of our data from 500M to approx. 1500M ppm, thus improving our traffic product coverage and quality.
HERE has an open location platform which it calls ‘neutral data marketplace’. Please tell us about it, and is there a demand for a similar platform in South Asian markets?
The HERE Open Location Platform (OLP) is a collaborative Big Data analytics platform to accelerate the development of innovative location-centric products. The ambition for the OLP is to become the go-to destination for location services, supporting not only autonomous vehicles, but smart cities and intelligent transportation systems too. There is definitely a market for OL in South Asia. The platform supports other industry segments in addition to automotive, and there is a huge focus in South Asia to digitalize. With the government mandate on tracking and the smart cities initiative, it is our belief that OLP will be highly applicable in the region.
With a Cloud-based, API-driven architecture agnostic to data type and source, the platform offers companies and developers across markets more opportunities than ever before to unlock the power of location in their applications and services through: Ingestion: Bring your own data from points of interests, streaming sensors, or other geotagged data, all while maintaining control of privacy and access.
Enrichment: Leverage rich datasets of real-time information from vehicles, smartphones, wearables, city infrastructure and other IoT devices to add location context to your data and services.
Processing: Access off-the-shelf algorithms (or bring your own) while applying historic, real-time and predictive analytics to your data.
Publish: Promote and share your enriched data and services with ecosystem partners or through your own channels. The opportunities are endless!
There is a raging public debate on user data privacy. Since autonomous cars would both utilize and generate a huge volume of data, what do you think would be the implications in terms of data privacy?
As technology evolves, the list of concerns around privacy and data security is bound to grow. In such a scenario, it is up to the companies and the industry as a whole to come together to set and regulate guidelines when it comes to privacy and security. Various industry reports and surveys have been undertaken, and it is found that it is possible to collect the data that the autonomous carmakers and location mapping service providers require to offer services and improve their technological platforms, while simultaneously safeguarding their customer data with ethical and transparent practices. At HERE Technologies, we take privacy seriously and adhere to all government regulations and policies across all geographies.
HERE HD Live Map is Cloud-based and supports connected ADAS. Do you think increasing Cloud analytics capabilities and use of Machine Learning algorithms would foster new innovations in HD mapping?
Definitely. Our focus is creating a loop between the car and our HD Live Map in the Cloud to ensure that what the vehicle detects with its sensors can ensure continuous and rapid updates of HD Live Map. This is crucial as it will ensure that our maps remain fresh and useful for an autonomous car. Through Machine Learning, we are able to ensure that the map gets updated in real time to provide a clear representation of the real physical world. Our HD map data will be part of the Reality Index. Our plan is that it could be abstracted for other use cases beyond automotive, including public sector and government use cases.
Do you think there is a need for standardization and a collaborative framework for the mainstreaming and popularization of automotive technology?
In the Spring of 2018, we announced the OneMap Alliance, an informal interest group of leading mapping and technology companies working to offer a unified worldwide mapping system for automated vehicles.
There are different kinds of maps for automated cars, offered by numerous companies. The alliance will focus on offering mapping that is built to a single map specification — that of HERE HD Live Map. The intention is to make it easier for carmakers to deploy high quality, self-healing mapping for their vehicles, wherever in the world they are sold and used. The companies that are part of the One Map Alliance are IPC, Navinfo and Hyundai MNSoft.