How Do You Know You’re Using Accurate Map Data?

October 9, 2018

Accurate Map DataMap data is only effective if it is reliable, and updating map data is the only way to ensure its accuracy. That could raise some questions about the map data you’re using or considering.

To assume that your map data is reliable can be risky. Instead, use these three benchmarks to determine map data accuracy.

1. How often is the data updated?

Providers such as HERE and TomTom traditionally update map data sets on a quarterly basis. This particular cadence of updating frequency has proven more effective than semi-annual or annual updates, and quarterly refreshes are generally expected by GIS professionals. Recently, these providers and select others began to offer monthly and weekly delta updates that ensure continuous and seamless data accuracy without quarterly time constraints.

However, the way the data is used may dictate how critical it is to have more up-to-date information. For example, a 911 call center or other emergency response organization is wholly dependent on the latest map data and requires frequent updates. On the other hand, the needs of a company plotting store locations in a geomarketing model can generally be met using a slower updating schedule.

2. Who updates the data?

Soliciting and using user-generated content for map data updates is a fairly common practice. Sources like HERE, TomTom or Google encourage end users to submit edits through tools like TomTom’s MapShare or HERE’s Map Creator, then finalize and verify updated map data prior to distribution. OpenStreetMap, on the other hand, uses an entirely collaborative approach to building and updating map data whereby anyone in their community can make contributions in real time.

Most map providers also proactively collect data using fleets of vehicles equipped with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology and photo equipment. The data is captured in real time and offers HD-precision that enables exact position calculation, routing and other detailed mapping requirements.

Some entities, such as government offices and jurisdictions, and affiliated local, regional and national GIS databases (e.g., the Great Lakes Commission) have a responsibility to house and provide accurate map data.

3. How does the map data source influence updating accuracy?

Any of the above-detailed ways to gather information is a perfectly viable source for reliable updating. However, the level of vetting the map data receives prior to sharing may influence map data accuracy.

There is extra effort involved in being diligent about the source and accuracy of your map data, but it is time well spent when you know it’s reliable, adds value and delivers to user expectations. Aligning the data format with your needs is equally as important, and our tip sheet, Should I License Map Data Or A Map API Platform?, will guide you through the process. Click the button below to access your copy now.

Map Data or API Platform Tip Sheet

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