Richard Süselbeck, Principal Developer Evangelist, HERE Technologies
Our phones, our cars, even our washing machines— everything is driven by software. For developers, we’re always working to provide better tools to build greater software.
A short time ago, I and several of my colleagues attended the We Are Developers World Congress in Vienna. This conference brings together thousands of developers, and problem solvers; all of whom have their eyes and minds trained on the next innovations and breakthroughs in technology.
While experiencing this myriad number of dev-centered events about frontend, backend, mobile, IoT, VR/AR, and AI, an idea began to come into focus for me. When you look down the path of technology, everything is software.
I don’t mean this in a hyperbolic sense; rather, it’s a practical observation. There are very few devices in our lives that are mechanically engineered alone. Almost everything we interact with on a daily basis has a software component driving it in the background.
For instance, consider a battery. More and more automobiles have batteries as their primary power source, but it’s not the case that the car’s accelerator pedal simply closes the circuit between the battery and the motor (aside from being impractical, that would be quite uncomfortable). The car’s propulsion systems are controlled by software, and it is software that manages the output, charging and management of the battery.
Without software, the car doesn’t go. This came to light very literally for my boss and colleague Peter Kürpick, Chief Platform Officer at HERE.
On a recent trip, Peter was driving his new car along a dense road leading into Berlin. On that road, the car experienced a full failure. It wouldn’t accelerate or restart, resulting in a huge traffic jam as he contacted a call center for support. None of the scripted restart sequences worked. Thankfully, while waiting for a tow the car unexpectedly rebooted itself, and he was able to get back home.
The software that powers autonomous services is frequently dependent on precise location data
What I take away from this incident is to consider how much of a car is already built by software developers, not just mechanical engineers. And, with more autonomous services on the horizon, the importance of software developers is going to increase exponentially.
Software, and Software Developers are More Important Than Ever
The software that powers autonomous services is frequently dependent on precise location data. Inversely, location data is greatly improved by well architected autonomous services. This format of data sharing forms a virtuous circle.
Legacy information systems operated with a single contributor, and a single beneficiary. Think of your car as being autonomous. If the only information your car receives is from the same make and model, that information is going to be severely limited. Instead, the way forward is clearly for many different industries to contribute data in, and benefit from the shared data coming out.
As an example, we at HERE collect a lot of data—billions of data points from millions of connected cars every day. That data comes into the system, is processed, and is then shared back to millions of cars in the form of traffic data and road conditions. We’re continuing to grow that system to provide advanced information like hazard warnings that alert drivers when roads are slippery in their immediate vicinity.
This collection and distribution of data with location context is at the heart of the HERE Open Location Platform.
It is a multi-tenant platform, meaning anyone who desires to use it in their software can login, and set up an individual space (where their data is protected within the platform). As you begin building, you can begin contributing sensor data, data which you might be collecting from any number of sources: cars, drones, mobile phones, IoT devices…any kind of edge point that produces data that needs to be processed.
The HERE Open Location Platform really goes to work when that data needs to be processed in the context of location. When the ‘where’ of the data matters, our resources are a cut above. Imagine use cases where you have a fleet of vehicles to be tracked, or a drone delivery system, our platform is the ideal one where you can connect your data sources.
Once the data is in, you can do things like map-match the data, or access routing APIs between multiple points in space. The output can be mapped back to control software, or to the individual fleet vehicles—or users can make that data public for other users on the system.
As more developers take advantage of the HERE Open Location Platform and our APIs, the quality of information being shared across applications will grow alongside the quality of the software that developers are putting into their applications, devices… and even their cars. Here’s hoping that Peter doesn’t get stuck again. Portions of this content first appeared on the company’s here.360.com.