For example, as enterprises harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect their physical assets to the cloud, they are dramatically reducing energy usage and consuming fewer natural resources. While the breakthrough insights IoT solutions can provide are significant, they can be even more powerful when combined with location–based insights.
Today at AutoMobility LA, Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure Location Based Services, a new Azure cloud offering to power the “Location of Things.” This includes geographical data that can better connect smart cities, infrastructure and IoT solutions, and empower industrial transformation, from manufacturing to retail to automotive – and everything in between.
Available in early December, Azure Location Based Services provides an enterprise-ready location service for customers to build mobility, asset tracking and other geospatial applications that provide useful insights through one dashboard, one subscription and one bill. Azure Location Based Services also provides enterprises with the privacy, data sovereignty, compliance, scale and simplicity they have come to expect from Azure services.
As IoT continues to transform businesses by providing breakthrough insights and optimizations for connected assets, location becomes even more important. For instance, a department of transportation can now use Azure Location Based Services to analyze and improve traffic in congested cities, freight companies can provide improved fleet management and logistics, and businesses can track the location of assets and be notified when their location changes.
Customers and partners harness the cloud to create mobility solutions
Joining us as our first official partner on the platform is TomTom. Mapmaking is in TomTom’s DNA. The company created one of the first digital maps in the world by harnessing the power of community. We believe that TomTom’s API, which builds on top of Microsoft’s cloud, is the glue between smart cities, smart infrastructure and smart vehicles, rather than Automotive on its own. Esri, an enterprise mapping and geographic information system (GIS) technology leader, also intends to join Azure Location Based Services to provide business customers with a complete set of location data management, digital mapping and geographic analytics, provided through Esri’s ArcGIS suite and developer APIs.
Several service providers in the mobility space have been testing Azure Location Based Services in private preview. Cubic Telecom, an Ireland-based global telecommunications service provider in the IoT and automotive sectors, has built a proof of concept that uses the services to rank the effectiveness of their charging station placements and suggest new charging locations based on network hotspots using their aggregated (and anonymous) connectivity data. Fathym, a U.S.-based IoT solutions company, is using the services to help cities and government agencies and commercial trucking companies visualize road weather conditions on maps and data visualizations and optimize for other routes if weather conditions are unsafe.
Microsoft’s Azure cloud is also the preferred cloud of a number of automotive makers. ICONIQ, a Chinese electric-vehicle maker, has selected the Microsoft Azure cloud to provide predictive maintenance, vehicle diagnostics and analytics, and a voice assistant in its cars. This is a key partnership for Microsoft in the vast and growing Chinese vehicle market.
Microsoft is building digital infrastructure on its cloud with hundreds of thousands of partners from the automotive, smart city and location industries. In addition to TomTom, Cubic Telecom, Fathym and ICONIQ, here’s a rundown of the other Microsoft partner companies that are joining us in our booth at Automobility this week:
BrightBox: provides a connected car platform called Remoto that links drivers to their cars, and the vehicles to car manufacturers, dealerships and third-party service providers.
Cubic Transportation: NextCityTM is Cubic’s coordinated framework for building a smarter tomorrow in the world’s urban centers, where increasing populations are resulting in greater traffic congestion, frustrated travelers and less productivity. NextCity integrates all travel information, payment and other customer experience, as well as operations and analytics in a given region for all modes of transportation.
Delphi: building autonomous driving solutions by integrating safer, greener and more connected solutions for the automotive and transportation sectors.
Otonomo: building the world’s first connected vehicle data marketplace platform for the safe and simple access, acquisition and integration of vehicle data. Otonomo facilitates a win-win situation for auto OEMs, mobility service providers and drivers.
The Future of Urban Mobility and Beyond
Microsoft’s commitment to improving urban mobility through technology goes beyond product announcements and partnerships. Earlier this month, we announced an expansion to an open-source research project called AirSim that tests the safety of artificial intelligence systems. AirSim provides realistic environments, vehicle dynamics and sensing for how autonomous vehicles that use AI can operate safely in the open world. And through the Vision Zero project Microsoft is working with companies such as Open Data Nation (ODN) to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries. Microsoft has also invested in technologies that can help create inclusiveness between governments and citizens, and in collaboration with G3ict and World Enabled, we recently launched the Smart Cities for All Toolkit.
With the number of people living in cities expected to triple by 2050, it’s hard to overstate how important IoT-based solutions, including location-based services, and greater digital connectivity will be in achieving our vision for safer, more sustainable and equitable societies.