Nokia Buys 'Geo-Intelligence' Firm MetaCarta

Nokia has acquired MetaCarta, a company that can take unstructured data about location and organize and make sense out of it. MetaCarta's main client was the US Department of Defense. The company has the capacity to comb/search through massive amounts of data and "understand" and organize it by location.

One of the company's "civilian" efforts was a project called news maps in which news stories were associated with particular locations. The company worked with the BBC and Reuters, among others. There were also more ambitious plans analogous to Google's Place Pages in the works. However the company's resources will now be shifted to Nokia's efforts to build better "local search" and geo-intelligence. 

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Nokia already owns Navteq and has made navigation free, following Google Navigation. I suspect the company doesn't know precisely how it will use MetaCarta's technology but sees several applications and implementations associated with organizing content by location. In its release Nokia made the relatively broad statement, "MetaCarta's technology will be used in the area of local search in Location and other services."

The irony here is that all the location platforms and APIs coming out make it possible to tag most user-generated content (UGC) with location information relatively easily, which creates structure around it. So MetaCarta's core competency may be less important over time.

Arguably associating UGC with location won't be the problem going forward. The bigger challenge will be fltering meaningful from "noisy" information in all that location-tagged content.