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Grab launches in-house mapping and location service

By Patricia B. Mirasol, Reporter

Super app Grab launched GrabMaps, its in-house mapping and location-based service, on June 8. The Singapore-based company aims to fully use its own mapping technology by the third quarter of 2022.   

GrabMaps will be offered to enterprises as a business-to-business (B2B) solution, allowing Grab to tap the digital maps market, which is estimated to be worth $1 billion in Southeast Asia. 

“The back alleys and narrow side streets common across Southeast Asia cities often don’t show up on conventional maps, but are navigated by our driver and delivery partners every day,” said Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling in a press release. “We’ve invested to turn this intelligence into a competitive advantage, allowing us to serve our users and partners with great experience, at the same time driving efficiency and cost-savings for the business.”  

GrabMaps is built on the principles of community-based mapping and draws data from orders and rides served daily, with real-time feedback from drivers and delivery partners on changes like road closures and business addresses.  

By contributing data like street imagery and traffic signs to the maps, drivers and delivery partners can earn additional income.  

The technology will also improve the experience of microentrepreneurs on the platform, according to Grab Philippines.  

“By helping delivery-partners locate merchants faster, they can deliver food that is hotter and fresher to customers,” the company said in an email. 

“Grab has always sought to build innovative tech that addresses Southeast Asia’s hyperlocal needs and GrabMaps is a great example of that,” said Mr. Tan.  

As a B2B solution, GrabMaps offers enterprises the following:  

● Base map data — the choice to license data on places, roads, and high-resolution, street-level imagery. Grab expects to grow to 37 million its over 33 million POIs (points of interest) at present.  

● Map-making tools and software-as-a-service — an end-to-end stack that customers can leverage to build their own maps. Grab is working on a next-gen camera that incorporates 360-degree imaging capabilities.   

Its current map-making camera, Kartacam, is being piloted by partner companies in Paris, Johannesburg, Dubai, and Seattle.  

● Application programming interface (APIs) and mobile software development kits (SDKs) — to be launched later in 2022 and in 2023, respectively, these will allow teams to leverage GrabMaps’ technology to improve or build their own applications and geolocation capabilities.  

A study of GrabMaps versus a third-party mapping provider, showed that GrabMaps’ error rate was four times lower; and its latency (or how fast the system serves a response), ten times lower.  

Company data also show that in countries that have moved fully to GrabMaps, the ease of finding the right point of interest for transport bookings improved three percentage points. Further, the accuracy of estimated travel time improved between one to 7.8 percentage points. 

GrabMaps powers more than 800 billion APIs calls per month.

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