A pivotal piece of the IoT puzzle is the accurate representation of the location of a connected device, equipment, asset or person. This data can provide context for the enablement of various connected applications in several markets. HERE Technologies is targeting this opportunity with ambitions to become the central location and mapping hub of the IoT ecosystem. The company is attracting a comprehensive list of technology providers and other IoT stakeholders while building out its own applications in promising areas, such as automotive.
The 451 Take
HERE Technologies is building on its mapping technology and foothold to create 'location intelligence' for the many different connected 'things' in IoT. The company is advancing its technology horizontally with the HERE Open Location Platform, which is becoming more IoT use-case-agnostic through location and mapping APIs, SDKs and public cloud support. HERE is also building out its vertically integrated applications, particularly in the lucrative automotive market, where is has products with potential advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), as well as vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and autonomous enablement. HERE will have to determine where it will draw the line with its partners, and how deep into verticals it will create applications versus primarily playing the location and mapping component. This will be even more important in highly competitive markets such as automotive.
HERE Technologies' history began with Nokia's $8.1bn acquisition of NAVTEQ in 2007. Nokia ran its own Nokia Maps division and NAVTEQ as separate entities until NAVTEQ was fully integrated into Nokia Maps in 2011. Nokia rebranded the conjoined entity as HERE Technologies in 2012. In December 2015, a coalition of German automotive OEMs (BMW Group, Audi, Daimler) acquired the HERE Technologies business unit, consisting of more than 6,000 employees, for €2.5bn ($2.7bn). HERE added GIC Private Limited, NavInfo and Tencent to the list of outside investors in December 2016 when they combined to purchase a 10% stake in the company. In January, Intel bought a 15% stake in HERE.
HERE's supervisory board was formed in 2016, and consists of the many investors and stakeholders in the company. The board brought on former Cisco executive Edzard Overbeek in February 2016 as CEO and to lead the company through the many transitions and changes in organizational structure. HERE currently stands with over 7,000 employees across 137 offices in more than 54 countries.
HERE's Open Location Platform is used as the building block for IoT to deliver its mapping and location technology to a variety of use cases and vertical applications. It works as a marketplace where a variety of businesses can leverage its mapping and geospatial data, SDKs, and APIs through a licensing model. Buyers can then monetize the licensed technology by adding value on top of this tool kit by building their own applications. HERE has had similar integration capabilities for some time, but has been building its viability for IoT through its support for the variety of data sources coming from disparate systems. The location data it ingests, processes and contextualizes through analytics can come from different sensors, devices, vehicles, things, people, etc. Location data for these sources is leveraged through SDKs and APIs to develop various third-party applications. HERE classifies the location and tracking data sources as either online or offline for outdoor and indoor positioning and outdoor and indoor map data. This brings HERE to a variety of new and existing IoT use cases for location services in smart cities (intelligent transportation systems), internet and media (social media and advertising), and tracking (fleet vehicles and other assets).
HERE Technologies runs its cloud services in AWS. It is also constructing a developer ecosystem with AWS, as well as Microsoft Azure, Facebook and Alibaba Cloud. HERE has built mobile applications for consumers with white-label usage for application development on top of its mapping and location data. It cites access to maps for over 200 countries, public transit system data for more than 1,300 cities, and over 14,000 indoor maps for airports, sports venues and shopping malls in 83 countries.
Given its extensive list of automotive investors, stakeholders and customers, it is unsurprising that HERE has allocated resources for developing automotive services applications. These services include data insight into weather, traffic, fuel, electric vehicle (EV) charging and parking; they can range in deployment from being embedded into an automobile's infotainment system to being leveraged by a mobile application. HERE provides the underlying mapping infrastructure for fleet management usage, with extensions for geofencing, waypoint sequencing and usage-based insurance (UBI).
HERE is beginning to roll out specific applications geared toward connected, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous automobiles. It is proving its machine-learning capabilities through sensor-level analysis across disparate vehicles with its next-generation automotive service applications that analyze vehicle sensor data for several automotive OEMs. With the HERE HD Live Map cloud-based platform, it is pooling this vehicle data to blend location with traffic, hazard warnings, road signs and on-street parking to keep its maps up to date. HERE's On-Street Parking service aggregates information from its real-time mapping, infrastructure sensor and parking data to find parking in congested urban areas. HERE Electronic Horizon is embedded software that applies similar driving-environment insight, but specifically for ADAS.
These services will only become more accurate if HERE can continue to convince OEMs to opt in and share their relevant vehicle data streams. Insight into the driving environment with HD Live Map through accurate static and dynamic HD mapping with vehicle-generated data is highly sought after by the automotive industry for V2I applications, ADAS, and semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicle (AV) initiatives. HERE can further apply these services through its partnerships for crowdsourced AV mapping with Intel, Mobileye, Nissan Motor and BMW.
Many of its sales engagements are through partnership licensing business models that leverage HERE's mapping and location product suite. HERE's portfolio of automotive applications continues to bring in business from a variety of stakeholders. Existing automotive OEM and supplier customers include Hyundai, PSA Groupe, Volkswagen, Toyota and Volvo, along with many of its investors.
Through a partnership, the HERE HD Live Map is operating on top of NVIDIA's Drive PX 2 in-vehicle AI computer for AVs. Mobileye is leveraging both the HERE Open Location Platform and HERE HD Live Map, while HERE taps into raw sensor data from vehicles fitted with Mobileye's Road Experience Management (REM). HERE is working on both SD and HD mapping for autonomous driving, with Increment P, a subsidiary of the Pioneer Corp. It works with Mapillary for community-generated street-level views in EMEA. HERE provides its location services for telematics providers Xee, Telogis (Verizon) and FleetBoard (Daimler), as well as UBI specialist Amodo.
HERE's products and services attract partnerships outside of automotive in areas such as smart cities, asset tracking, retail and internet services. Air-quality analytics provider BreezoMeter uses HERE's real-time traffic to monitor carbon emissions across different locations. Other notable partnerships and customers include Baidu, DJI, Microsoft, Mediatek, Facebook, Samsung, IBM, Accenture, Siemens and SAP.
HERE's competition varies based on its broad range of applications and where it draws a line in the sand with its partners. This includes geographic information systems (GIS) providers Geosoft, Caliper, ALK Technologies (Trimble), Cadcorp and open source partner ESRI (ArcGIS). The Google Maps API leverages years of Google mapping data across the globe as the underlying mapping for third-party applications such as geospatial real estate information in Allstate Insurance's GoodHome.
HERE could start to see alternative general-purpose real-time mapping approaches from those leveraging satellite constellations, such as Planet Labs. The seven-year-old company's constant flow of global imagery data is being leveraged for various applications, such as precision agriculture, disaster response and mapping.
HERE will see an array of competition from incumbents and partners in the automotive market. TomTom is a major provider and continues to invest in the space through internal development and the acquisition of AV startup Autonomos. With its highly automated mapping technologies (HDMap and RoadDNA), it furthers its aspirations to be the mapping piece in future AVs. TomTom dives deeper into automotive through the development of its telematics business, where it has made an array of acquisitions to create a subscriber base exceeding 671,000 for a large foothold in Europe. The company has its technology embedded into Volvo Trucks, Subaru and Peugeot's i-Cockpit infotainment systems.
While HERE is partnering with Mobileye's REM, there is a possibility of overlapping capabilities in future AVs. Civil Maps' proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, working in-tune with crowdsourced cloud-based mapping data, feed into its context engine and give the AV situational awareness.
HERE's On-Street Parking service will compete with Parkopedia, which has parking data for over 50 million static parking spaces in more than 6,300 cities and streams real-time data from over 150,000 parking facilities.