Grab launches in-house mapping, location service

SUPER app Grab has launched on Wednesday its in-house mapping and location-based service called GrabMaps, which is intended to fully power the Singapore-based company by the third quarter of 2022.

Categorized under the company’s enterprise and new initiatives business, GrabMaps will also be offered to enterprises as a business-to-business (B2B) offering, allowing Grab to tap into the $1-billion market opportunity in Southeast Asia (SEA).

Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling pointed out that SEA cities have back alleys and side streets that don’t show in conventional maps, but are navigated by its drivers and delivery partners daily.

“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,” he said in a press release about the hyperlocal solution.

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 also earn additional income.

The technology is also a way to improve the experience of micro-entrepreneurs in 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 e-mail.

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

GRABMAPS FOR ENTERPRISEAs 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 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.

Per a benchmark study of GrabMaps versus a third-party mapping provider, the former’s error rate was four times lower, and its latency (or how fast the system serves a response) 10 times lower. Company data also show that — for 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. — Patricia B. Mirasol