UPDATED 09:00 EDT / JUNE 14 2023


Simplifying map data: Overture releases new Data Schema and Global Entity Reference System

The Overture Maps Foundation today announced the release of the Overture Data Schema and the Overture Global Entity Reference System to aid in creating and navigating open map data.

Although the name may not be well-known, the Overture Maps Foundation was established by Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Corp., Meta Platforms Inc. and GPS navigator maker TomTom NV in December as an industry group focused on making map data more accessible. The foundation operates as part of the Linux Foundation and notably does not include Google LLC.

The new Overture Data Schema is designed to offer a consistent and intuitive framework for structuring open map data. The schema is optimized to be user-friendly for developers, providing a clearly defined data model that sets understandable rules for data representation.

For example, in the Overture Data Schema, a polygon will always be represented as a polygon, eliminating the confusion that might arise from varying representations in other datasets. The schema also employs a linear referencing model to denote properties that apply only to a section of the road, enabling adding data layers to a road without modifying the road objects themselves.

The initial release proposes a data schema for buildings, places, transportation and administrative data layers, delivering consistency in data representation across various layers to enhance the reliability and usability of the map data.

The second announcement, the Overture Global Entity Reference System, is a tool designed to boost interoperability among varying datasets in geospatial applications. GERS provides a universal reference system, identified by a GERS ID, which acts as a bridge linking Overture’s open map data to geospatially tagged data from different organizations and companies.

The interoperability offered by GERS means that despite each dataset having its unique conventions and vocabularies to reference real-world entities, GERS can merge and combine these datasets. The service also simplifies the task of structuring, encoding and referencing map data, making it easier for developers to integrate and use diverse datasets.

The Overture Maps Foundation also asked for feedback, noting that Overture will be successful only if developers adopt its map data and that will happen only if Overture data is easy to use and combine with other datasets. Feedback from developers will be incorporated into future iterations of these systems.

Image: Overture Maps Foundation

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