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TomTom takes aim at OpenStreetMap

Article by: Darren Griffin
Date: 29 May 2012

It would appear that TomTom are more than a little troubled by the growing success of OpenStreetMap, the open source community mapping project.

TomTom have posted an article on their website pointing out the drawbacks of open source maps. The article makes some bold claims about their accuracy and the problems of relying on community reports.

Now I'm sure many of you will think this a little cheeky of TomTom. Those of you who have experienced the length of time it can take for them to update their maps may not think they have too much to boast about. And MapShare is after all, little more than a community powered reporting tool.

TomTom don't mention OpenStreetMap directly, but they do refer to a 'leading provider' who experienced over 100,000 individual cases where data was changed either accidentally or maliciously. This can only be a reference to OpenStreetMap and whilst the true number is disputed by them, the actual damage was minimal and spotted quickly.

One OpenStreetMap support has blogged about TomToms claims with each of their points answered here.

OpenStreetMap data does have errors and omissions, but then so does TomTom. It's in the nature of OpenStreetMap that any issues they experience are discussed and made public whereas TomTom keep their mapping troubles very much in-house.

Perhaps this is a case of 'people who live in glass houses should not throw stones?'.

Source: TomTom

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Posted by scrupps on Wed May 30, 2012 6:42 am Reply with quote

I used Tom Tom for years and their map accuracy is poor. Roads that had been built for years didn't show up etc. They then want 24 (probably more now) to buy an updated map!

Started to use Waze now, and whilst it has its issues at least the map is updated regularly and quickly. And the cost - nothing!

The price of Tom Tom on an iPhone is extortionate - they will lose their business if they don't change their business model.

Posted by dazzabird on Wed May 30, 2012 6:48 am Reply with quote

The time it takes TomTom to update maps is a joke.

Posted by MaFt on Wed May 30, 2012 7:30 am Reply with quote

dazzabird Wrote:
The time it takes TomTom to update maps is a joke.

Ah yes, but this allows them to be more accurate and, thus, safer because after 12 months and 15,000 people reporting the new road they are pretty certain it is there so can then consider adding it to the maps. And it's all about safety after all.


Posted by Privateer on Wed May 30, 2012 8:35 am Reply with quote

Two words to TomTom: "Mini Roundabouts"! Evil or Very Mad

I'm not aware of any changes that I have submitted to TomTom have ever been implemented - I have certainly never had any feedback from them to say whether they received the changes or whether they were going to implement the changes.

I have never submitted any changes to OSM solely because all of the areas that I have looked at have been accurate and didn't need any changes!

I firmly believe in submitting changes for the greater community good, but when TomTom doesn't implement (or show that they even investigate) my submitted changes then why should I waste my time submitting to TomTom?

Don't get me wrong, I like TomTom devices and their GUI - however TomTom's attitude really does need to change!


iPhone 6s Plus, iOS 14.0.1: iOS CamerAlert v2.0.7
TomTom GO Mobile iOS 2.3.1; TomTom (UK & ROI and Europe) iOS apps v1.29
Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D

Posted by tomtom_shareholder on Wed May 30, 2012 9:11 am Reply with quote

For what I have heard, a lot of Open Street Maps roads lack metadata. Like directions of one way streets, speed limits, house numbers, and so on. So there's more to 'coverage' than just plain roads. Also the maps are better in populated areas (more community members) and not in desolated areas. So I think driving with OSM is not really safe.

That said, the OSM project does have a lot of value for other purposes than driving. Like pedestrian use, location based services and advertising. Or websites, like real estate.

The reason why carmanufacturers rely on Navteq and/or TeleAtlas maps, is that they also have a validating process in place. I don't think car manufacturers are fond of the idea that anyone can edit the open street maps, without a formal validating process.

Posted by M8TJT on Wed May 30, 2012 9:38 am Reply with quote

tomtom_shareholder Wrote:
The reason why carmanufacturers rely on Navteq and/or TeleAtlas maps, is that they also have a validating process in place.
I don't think this is in dispute at all. What is in dispute is the length of time this 'validating process' takes, especially on major road improvements. These are generally announced several years in advane, with accurate details available, which the map producers could use to 'pre map' the roads, then publish the changes on the next release after the road is opened. Simples!

Posted by Oldboy on Wed May 30, 2012 10:10 am Reply with quote

Privateer Wrote:
Two words to TomTom: "Mini Roundabouts"! Evil or Very Mad

I'm not aware of any changes that I have submitted to TomTom have ever been implemented - I have certainly never had any feedback from them to say whether they received the changes or whether they were going to implement the changes.
When I've submitted them online with Map Share Reporter the Status always comes back as 'Not accepted'. Rolling Eyes


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Europe version 1045.10005
TT Via 135 App 12.075
Western Europe v1095

Posted by matthewj on Wed May 30, 2012 12:53 pm Reply with quote

It is interesting that they are scared of this, but I wonder how scared they need to be. The adopters so far that I've seen are using them in "non-critical" places. Apple in their photo app for example, so you can see where you took the photograph. Who cares if the street is one way or not? It doesn't matter. They aren't navigating using it, so the details don't matter.

Perhaps the scary part is that it gives the open maps credibility, and that's what they have to fight. But the root cause of the switch is not the mapping, but the cost of the mapping now that Google charges for use. I'm sure that Apple and others would be happy to use the TomTom data if a sensible price were to be worked out.

Posted by MaFt on Wed May 30, 2012 1:09 pm Reply with quote

But even if the one-way street is marked incorrectly in OSM I can simply make a note of it, go home, edit it and then next time I go there it is correct.

On any other satnav I would have to pay 30-40 for a map update maybe 6 months down the line that may (or may not) include the correction.

Yes, I MAY be able to use MapShare to edit it (if the TomTom in question had that feature) but the one that is wrong on TomTom maps and has been for at least 5 years near me cannot be corrected using MapShare.

The road is about 400 yards long. TomTom maps have it marked incorrectly as a one-way road when, in fact, it is two-way except for 50yards at the end of it. Trying to change it in MapShare ONLY allows me to change the whole length of the road. BUT if I do that it is wrong as it will want me to go that way when I know I cannot get out of the top. But leaving it as an incorrect one-way then means that I don't get navigated the shortest way home - you see there's a junction along the 400yard stretch that goes to my house - but TomTom have it as a one way street so it won't even let me access that road.

In OSM it took less than a minute to add the one-way part to the small section at the end of the road. TomTom, as far as I am aware, still haven't fixed it and have not acted upon my online correction. MapShare on the device is not clever enough to fix it either.

For some reason TomTom didn't mention the (massive) limitations of MapShare in their article...


Posted by AliOnHols on Wed May 30, 2012 5:14 pm Reply with quote

The beauty of OSM is that it is for everyone. Pedestrians, Walkers, Ramblers, Mountaineers, Cyclists, MBRers, Downhillers, Off-Roaders, Skiers, Canoeists, Sailers, Horse Riders, etc. etc. etc. and ......Drivers.

If everybody would ensure that their "patch" was accurate it would be the equivalent of an OS map of the world. Wouldn't that be brilliant?

In my area I was probably one of the first to contribute when the villages around Figueres were just a "blob". I started in 2009 when I got my first SatNav, there are about 8 or 9 of us now who regularly contribute around here. I always find the mapping more accurate than the likes of Google et al.

The onus is upon the user. If you find an area of OSM that is not accurate, correct it. It normally takes about an hour for the changes to appear. Once you have mastered the mapping software, it could not be easier.

As others have said. TomTom, Glass Houses and Stones.

Edited -.Rewritten a wee bit.

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TomTom GO 730, GO 930, GO 940 & Rider2.
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Posted by xtraseller on Wed May 30, 2012 7:17 pm Reply with quote

We all like free, and the idea of sharing is fun too

But I forget all about free, and it is definitely not fun when my map fails me on route to an important appointment, or in a rush to get home

Opensource does have its place, and it can co-exist in many areas and for many purposes

But for me, for navigation, I prefer to pay a little and get some reassurance that 99.9% of the time my nav will get me to my destination safely, the best route, and without stress

And without advertising (are you listening Garmin?)

Based on current offerings - and potential - I would say TomTom need not worry too much. Free sat-nav is the foot in the door for many, and people who find it useful WILL pay for better solutions. A little like that free sample in the post...

I guess it's all in the value-added data, not just the roads, and over and above anything else on the market this is where TT currently shine

TomTom are the masters of crowd sourced mapping technology (read: HD Traffic, IQ Routes) - they gather info from us, interpret it and give us advice feedback

They make money from it too - so it is sustainable

Collecting data is like collecting nonsense if it's not interpreted correctly, and this is where the value is

And no one, not ever, will do that for nothing!

TomTom Go Live 6100, 600
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