How do we make commercial maps?

Posted: 8 October, 2020 | By Kate Legnola

Selecting the right map data provider is key to your business. In one of our previous blogs, we explain what makes a commercial map unique and how it impacts your business.  That blog also references our 40+ years experience and excellence in building and maintaining premium commercial maps.  FUN FACT! Our company began by creating the first digital representation of the North American rail network. Trains led to trucks, and we’ve become a transportation technology pioneer in commercial mapping.  But how do we do it?

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First, and most importantly, is our extensive team of digital cartographers, dedicated GIS engineers along with a procurement team, QA analysts and data scientists. Working through long standing relationships with state, county and municipalities, our procurement team manages thousands of data sources.  Our engineers and cartographers spend each day conflating those sources and continuously updating the map data through advanced map editing tools.  The analysts monitor millions of commercial routes with 40+ configurations along with quality assurance rules to verify roadway attributes that calculate routes, miles, and cost throughout our products and services. 


We've been the highway mileage and routing standard for the freight truck industry in North America for over 30 years but over the last few years as the industry has evolved, we’ve also put more of a focus on last mile data (specifically tailored to trucks and professional fleets). As complicated as the middle mile is, the last mile is an even more demanding challenge that only a handful of map providers take on.  FUN FACT! Highways make-up only about 14% of the entire road network in North America.


So how have we been able to produce the most comprehensive commercial maps?  The following 3 principles have been guiding us in achieving this:


  • Focus and vertical expertise - we specialize in commercial transportation and logistics.  This allows us to fully place our efforts on solving the exact problems that matter to our customers in the industries which we serve.
  • Partnerships and data sources - high quality data sources are a critical component of map making.  Becoming a part of Trimble has opened doors to new sources and relationships and helped in acquiring billions of anonymized gps points, millions of customer driven routes and thousands of places of interest that matter to our customers the most.
  • Technology and analytics - we invest heavily in technologies to scale that can do the heavy lifting so we can focus the human teams on manual coding and review of only the most challenging situations. State of the art conflation algorithms, tools and processes allow for integration of many sources into one map.  Machine learning technology allows us to automatically extract map features from imagery to enhance our map content.  Automated analytics tools allow us to detect any map problems based on anonymized customer data.  Aggregating and cross referencing all these streams of ground truth information is very powerful in enhancing our map data content and accuracy.


Bottom line - it’s all about designing smart and thorough processes powered by cutting edge technology and streamlining them for maximum efficiency to accomplish more with less without sacrificing the quality.


Want to read more about our commercial maps? Check out our other blog What is commercial map data? What everyone in transportation needs to know about maps >


Kate Legnola

Sr. Product Manager, Map Data

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