"The availability of various GPS devices, location-based services and built-in mapping systems in vehicles has driven the usage of digital maps," said Arnout Desmet, managing director Asia-Pacific South of Tele Atlas, a digital maps and dynamic content provider.
"The information (on digital maps) has become the foundation for a wide range of personal and in-car navigation systems and mobile and internet map applications that help user find people, places, products and services they need, wherever they are."
Besides being the essential basic infrastructure for successful deployment of location-based services, today's digital maps offer up-to-date data and sometimes live feeds, clever combination of routes and driving instructions, and even 3-D visualisation.
"This will make it easier for users to go to a destination in the shortest way possible. This is useful especially in current economic conditions where fuel prices are going up," Desmet said.
Besides that, digital maps have been used rather expansively for urban planning, he added.
He was speaking at the recent Asia 2.0 conference in Kuala Lumpur.
More advancementsDesmet believes that the 3-D maps offered today will use real images of roads, buildings, junctions, landmarks and other details in two years' time.
"Currently in 3-D maps we feature building blocks that are similar to the actual building, but soon real buildings or landscape images will be used to enhance drivers' experience," he said.
Other features that might be added into future digital maps include dynamic speed and slope information.
"Such feature, for instance, wil notify drivers if they are passing throuhg a different speed limit area or school area so they can adjust their vehicles' speed," Desment explaine.
To make sure that information on the digital maps is correct, digital maps and services providers like
Tele Atlas engage users through online means for feedback.
"This is done via Web sites where users can post more information about certain places or routes, or make corrections on the available information," Desmet said.
Local demandThe use of digital maps in Malaysia is expected to trend higger due to the increasing availability of GPS devices for vehicles and also mobile phones with GPS features.
At present, there are about 15,000 GPS navigation systems used especially in vehicles. Tele Atlas expects this figure to rise to 250,000 by 2010.
Tele Atlas' digital maps cover all major cities and secondary towns in the country with 50 3-D landmarks. The company is targeting to have fill street coverage of the country's roads by next year.
Through a combination of its products and partnerships, Tele Atlas offers digital map coverage of over 200 countries and territories worldwide. It uses a sophisticated network of professional drivers, mobile mapping vans and over 50,000 data resources to deliver highly accurate adn up-to-date digital maps
GPS Devices sales office in Malaysia