Tele Atlas Africa, a leading provider of location and navigation solutions in South Africa, is drawing on the power of community to keep their cutting-edge digital maps up to date and accurate.

Trips taken with the guidance of a TomTom – a portable navigation device – are being used to aid in the process of correcting and updating maps. By drawing from a central database of current, user-generated information, Tele Atlas is enhancing its ability to provide up-to-date mapping data to its customers.
The information sourced from the community is verified by Tele Atlas’ own aerial and satellite information, and by their professional survey teams who go out to the respective locations.
“This process allows the greater community to play a massive role in updating our maps,” explains Danny Grobben, GM of Tele Atlas Africa. “Using the community input, we can send teams of surveyors to specific areas where a lot of change has occurred – saving time and providing the most up to date and accurate data available.”
Research has shown that roads change every year by as much as 15%, and South African drivers are all too familiar with the capricious nature of local roads and traffic systems. And as mapping experts can testify, keeping track of every change in a road network is a formidable challenge, which comes at an extremely high cost.
“We normally receive thousands of changes a month from a broad range of application and device users,” adds Grobben. “Yet to get to the point where we could create a real-time map, we needed more – and that’s where the community comes in.”
With community input from TomTom devices, people are able to deliver a great deal of valuable information about the roads they’ve driven on and what they’ve encountered along the way.
“Updated maps are able to reflect the reality of the moment,” says Grobben. “This will allow our customers to build products and services upon the freshest and strongest map foundation available for this market.”
Local drivers with personal navigation devices are already seeing the benefits of the community input system. In Johannesburg, the heavily congested off and on-ramps at Rivonia and Allandale have recently undergone major changes.
By using community sourced data, Tele Atlas Africa has been able to correct its data and provide users with the most up-to-date and accurate information about those road sections – allowing drivers to navigate the roads safely and efficiently.
Furthermore, when the geometry of roads change – as has recently happened with the busy N4 highway – Tele Atlas Africa is able to quickly update its information and send it out to users. This is particularly useful when it comes to traffic circles and four-way stops – providing drivers with information that can potentially prevent nasty accidents.
In addition, Tele Atlas Africa is now able to deliver current information about the location of popular parks, holiday destinations and off-road routes. As holiday-makers and adventurous 4×4 drivers venture off to their various destinations, Tele Atlas Africa is able to collate the information and include it in their most recent maps – allowing users to benefit from the experiences of other drivers.
“Despite the fact that TomTom navigation devices currently deliver the bulk of community data, all Tele Atlas customers will benefit from the updates which are received from the community,” adds Grobben.