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24 Mar, 2023
2 min time to read

Hivemapper, a startup that uses dashcams on ride-hail and delivery vehicles to map the world, is making progress towards its objective of overthrowing Google's B2B mapping empire.

Hivemapper is a startup that aims to map the world's roads using individual contributors around the globe, rather than spending millions of dollars on dedicated mapping vehicles. The company's dashcams are equipped with high-quality imagers and precise GPS, allowing for continuous refreshing of data, unlike much of Google's Street View imagery, which can be over a decade old in non-urban areas.

Although Hivemapper has only mapped 1 million kilometers of unique street-level imagery, compared to Google's 60 million kilometers, the company collected this data within just three months of launching. In contrast, Google took over a decade to collect 16.1 million kilometers of unique road data. Hivemapper now aims to map 10 million unique road kilometers by early next year.

Hivemapper's model is similar to that of GPS app Waze, which relies on volunteer user data to monitor and share real-time traffic information around the world. However, Hivemapper rewards drivers and editors with its native token called HONEY, which can have financial value. As more roads are mapped and the map becomes more useful to end customers, their demand for tokens increases. When companies purchase map data from Hivemapper, that money is converted into tokens in the back end, which the system can then use to reward new or existing contributors with more tokens. There will only ever be 10 billion HONEY tokens in existence, according to Ariel Seidman, Hivemapper's CEO and co-founder.

Hivemapper is currently in the validation stage with several of the world's largest map data customers, and it has conversations with many of the largest map data customers in the world. The startup currently has over 11,000 contributors and has mapped 418 regions to some degree, including around 30% of Los Angeles's roads but only 1.4% of Genoa, Italy's.

To scale exponentially, Hivemapper is working to bring on fleets of smaller to mid-sized vehicles, as these companies are more likely to follow best practices for mounting dashcams, collect better quality imagery, and drive off the beaten track. Fleet managers can access Hivemapper's dashboard, which provides information on high-earning routes, where drivers are going, and how many tokens they're collecting, and they can redirect or split tokens to any designated wallet to reward drivers.

Hivemapper is betting on two things: First, that the amount of money Google spends to collect street-view data will be its Achilles heel. And second, that it will differentiate itself from new competition like Mapbox, which uses OpenStreetMap data, by collecting and editing its own data rather than relying on third parties.