Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Microsoft location-based services target logistics sector

Steve Rogerson
December 5, 2017

Microsoft is launching Azure location-based services to offer enterprise customers location capabilities for use cases such as IoT asset tracking, fleet management, logistics, automotive, urban planning and retail.
The location-based services are integrated directly into Azure so enterprise users can add them to their existing Azure cloud with the assurance that it meets Azure's standards of privacy, compliance, scalability, management and simplicity.
"As IoT continues to transform businesses by providing breakthrough insights and capabilities for connected assets, location is becoming an important aspect to consider," said Sam George, director of Microsoft Azure IoT. "For instance, a department of transportation can now use Azure location-based services to analyse and improve traffic in congested cities, freight companies can provide improved fleet management and logistics, and all businesses can track the location of assets and be notified when their location changes."
Satellite navigation company TomTom will supply location data for the services, providing Microsoft with location and mapping capabilities. The services include a set of APIs that provide mapping, search, routing, traffic and time zones that will be available through Azure.
Microsoft customers will benefit from location data from TomTom's global community and its global partner network, whose users continually provide active and passive map and traffic data insights. Azure users will benefit from contributions of hundreds of millions of connected devices worldwide.
"We chose to partner with Microsoft because it has expertise in scaling globally with enterprise customers and shares a joint vision with TomTom to make location a fundamental aspect of the cloud," said Anders Truelsen, managing director of BU licensing at TomTom. "Mapmaking is in TomTom's DNA. By building on top of Microsoft's cloud, we believe this will make our data more accessible than ever and will empower developers to use our APIs to light up mapping scenarios for both consumer and commercial customers."
Several service providers in the mobility space have been testing the services in private preview. Cubic Telecom, an Irish telecommunications service provider in the IoT and automotive sectors, has built a proof of concept that uses the services to rank the effectiveness of the charging station placements and suggest new charging locations based on network hotspots using their aggregated and anonymous connectivity data.
Fathym, a US IoT company, is using the services to help cities and government agencies visualise road weather conditions on a map and optimise for other routes if weather conditions are unsafe.
Esri, an enterprise mapping and geographic information system technology company, also intends 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.
"We are excited to partner with Microsoft on its Azure location-based services," said Christopher Cappelli, vice president of Esri. "Microsoft and Esri have been strategic partners with one another for more than 20 years and have joint customers all over the world. Our joint customers have already benefitted from incorporating their existing Esri ArcGIS systems using our GeoEvent Server with Microsoft's Azure cloud and Azure IoT. Others interested in incorporating location services into their apps and systems can also immediately take advantage of our complete array of capabilities for mapping and analytics."
With the addition of the services to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, developers and enterprises can seamlessly build location-aware services on Azure, leveraging the same billing, account and Azure infrastructure as all other Azure services. Currently in public preview, the location-based services will launch next year and will be available globally in more than 30 languages.