Microsoft announces multiple location-based services deals

Combination of services could create a massive world map of locations

Microsoft announces multiple location-based services deals
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Microsoft announced a series of partnerships with location-based services in the hopes of creating what it calls a "world graph," covering all kinds of locations and objects and how they work together. 

The first was a multi-year deal to use HERE mapping data across a number of its own services, such as Cortana and Bing Maps. Audi, BMW and Daimler purchased HERE from Nokia last year for €2.8 billion and use it in their GPS systems. 

Microsoft also announced a partnership with a number of mapping technology leaders, including HERE, TomTom and EsriI, to create what it describes as a "world graph" that details "a new data index of physical places, objects and devices and their interconnectivity." 

The TomTom/Microsoft partnership plans to integrate location-based services into Microsoft Azure to make it even easier and more flexible for developers to build and manage enterprise, mobile, web and Internet of Things (IoT) applications that are location-aware. 

Microsoft already offers several graphs, which are databases that map relationships between entities, such as the way Facebook maps relations between users and activities. Microsoft has Bing Knowledge Graph, the Office Graph, and now that the purchase has closed, the LinkedIn professional graph.

By bringing all of these graphs together, Microsoft ultimately hopes to create an open platform supporting sets of data from many sources, all running on Azure, while providing deep hooks for integration with other data graph solutions. 

In the blog post announcing the deal, Microsoft said: 

"Scenarios could include connected cars that combine up-to-date mapping, traffic and weather data with a driver’s schedule, to-do lists and preferences for personalized planning and routing. Intelligent cars could re-route away from accidents, recommend nearby restaurants and find commutes with good cell coverage for work calls. To increase safety and efficiency, data from road conditions, car sensors and driver behavior can inform predictive car maintenance." 

It also talked about how cities could use location-based services to analyze, influence and improve traffic. Location data can help businesses manage logistics, optimize fleets and track customer engagement.

It all sounds nice, but there is no time frame on when we can expect this "world graph" to be in our cars or on our smartphones.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.