India: Flipkart is making debut in mapping with MapUnity, a Social Technology Lab by Dr. Ashwin Mahesh. MapUnity has started a social network called TechNagara that will work in all the cities chosen under the ‘Smart Cities’ mission. This social network would bring together all the public information about governance, and also facilitate and promote public engagement in solving the key problems of metropolitan areas.
Sources inside Flipkart reveal that Flipkart Maps had indeed tied up with MapUnity. Flipkart Maps, a product possibly driven by the acquisition of a 34% stake in Delhi-based digital mapping MapMyIndia by Flipkart in a Rs 1600 crore deal in December 2015. At the time, Flipkart had said that the deal was expected to give it a competitive edge in terms of supply chain and logistics. Whether the Maps division will turn into a competitor for the likes of Google remains to be seen.
In Bengaluru, the agencies whose data may be integrated into this platform are BWSSB, BBMP, BESCOM, BMTC, BMRCL, Bangalore One, BMRDA, BDA, the traffic police etc. Dr Mahesh has said that a common platform is needed for governance, public information and B2B solutions in cities.
On Twitter, he had mentioned, "This will be a platform that cross-uses drives innovation, features, value. In TechNagara, a single platform can be used for transport, energy, security, tourism for each city, 126 cities in all. The rationale is also that a single tech platform can be used as a smart backbone for many cities. That keeps costs low, which is especially important for Tier 2 cities."
In 2006, MapUnity also built the first Transport Information System for a major city in India – Bengaluru (www.btis.in) and has since developed platforms for urban management, heritage and history, environment, and safety.