Mapping the world -- from India

14th September 2009
Mapping the world -- from India
Navteq is the latest international digital mapping company to have an India base. Dutch players TeleAtlas and AND are already here

NAVTEQ's  new India Production Centre is its largest, worldwide

 Dutch digital mappers TeleAtlas and AND are already here.

Chances are, these days,  the maps that go into  that cool navigation tool on your smart phone or car-route finder that guides you  turn by turn, almost any where in the world, were  crafted in India. Surprised? Read on!

Chicago-based leader in digital mapping, and a Nokia company since  2007, NAVTEQ,  has announced  the establishment  this week, of a Global  production centre,  its  largest any where, in Mumbai, India. Initially staffed with 400, the centre will quickly grow to house 600 professionals , mostly geocoders.  They will work on creating  and updating NAVTEQ's maps for  77 countries and 17 million miles of roads..

The company has also announced ' significant expansion' of its coverage for India  which already covers over 40 cities... to  84 cities and 1.4 million points of interest.  Its own research shows that Indians stop to ask for directions at least 4 times before completing a journey.

Navteq is not the first major maps player to set up its main  development centre in India. Two well known Dutch brands -- TeleAtlas and Automotive Navigation Data (AND) are already here -- the former in Noida, where it has an outsourcing partner,  Infotech Enterprises, the latter based in Pune.

In recent months,  GPS-based bavigation devices have become more 'personal' -- and affordable   -- in India, with  brands like SatNav Systems and MapMyIndia  offering turn by turn navigation tools for  hundreds of cities and smaller towns.  ( see our story, HIgh Tech roads, take me home  )

Digital mapping  is clearly another of those new  IT niches where India has proven skills and a knowledge base,  which added to  affordable human resources, is making  the country  the   cartographic capital of the world. And the burgeoning  mobile phone market ( increasingly GPS enabled )  is helping  to create a domestic market , almost as a bonus.

Anand Parthasarathy / September 15 2009