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January 22, 2010

Making maps with NAVTEQ

Making-maps-navteqGLOBAL – Following yesterday’s news about free navigation for the world, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at where all this stuff comes from. If you spend a lot of time on the road, you’ve probably come across a car with a camera pod on its roof, recording everything in sight. No, not that car, another one, from NAVTEQ. NAVTEQ is an operating unit of Nokia, which also happens to be the leading global provider of digital map, traffic and location data. Recently we got the chance to jump in for a ride in a NAVTEQ field collection car and take a different kind of spin around Espoo.

NAVTEQ is using a wide range of data sources to build up and maintain its maps – field collection is just another string to that bow. Traditionally, the cars were equipped with GPS to enable data capture, but more recently they’ve been fitted with a series of cameras so they can take pictures too.  The cars are equipped with a lot of great technology, including GPS to enable data capture and a series of specially fitted cameras so they can take pictures simultaneously.

Two people are in the car all the time, one working on getting the data, the other working the wheel. There’s a whole raft of information to collect and monitor and the teams get to record and code key attributes such as lane information, road dividers and speed bumps. The cameras’ output can be monitored on a display inside the car whilst the bulk of the equipment is stored in the trunk (such as the hard drive, for storing all those images and data points).

Our video takes us on a short tour around Espoo, where we also got to ask our hosts, Mira Mäki-Mantila and Kaisa Pusenius from the NAVTEQ Finland team, a few questions. Catch the video below and let us know what you think in the comments.