Q&A About OpenLR with Ralf Peter Schaefer, TomTom

On the eve of an interesting conference about OpenLR, the location referencing system for real-time traffic, GPS Business News spoke about it with Ralf Peter Schaefer, vice president of Traffic Product Unit at TomTom, the company that brought the open standard to life.

GPS Business News: What is Open LR?

Ralf Peter Schaefer: OpenLR is a dynamic location referencing to identify locations describing and exchanging events like traffic jams, incidents, weather reports, POIs between a source map and destination map.

The referencing method is optimized for low bandwidth consumption when transmitting message over the air or via IP connection between a backend system in a data center and a navigation system or another type of application to display traffic.

OpenLR is map-agnostic which allows the use of different vendor maps for the encoding and decoding part of event locations.

GPS BN: Is it free?

RPS: OpenLR is commercially available for use without restrictions. The method is disclosed with a Creative Common License and can be compiled together with any software code. No license charges are applicable. Furthermore an open source referencing implementation and test data is available under the official web site www.openlr.org.

GPS BN: How does it differentiate from similar technologies?

RPS: OpenLR is an on-the-fly location referencing and does not require a priori location table creation and map integration as required by TMC location referencing.

OpenLR is using location coding algorithms on pure map features and the road geometry. It can address the entire road network. Once it has been implemented with an encoder on the sending map and a decoder with the receiving map e.g with a navigation system, it works without further maintenance. To our knowledge and experience the time to market is not longer than a couple of weeks. 

The bandwidth consumption per location is up to 3 times lower than competing on-the-fly location referencing systems.

GPS BN: Who is using it today ?

RPS: After the successful commercial implementation in all TomTom navigation products as of 2009 more users have implemented OpenLR. Applications in all market sectors such as Automotive, Enterprise or Government and various traffic suppliers have successfully implemented the method. During the OpenLR conference best practices to implement and use will be discussed.


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