Microsoft brings enterprise location-based services to Azure with help from TomTom

Microsoft is taking a shot at baking location-based data into Azure for enterprise users.

Microsoft has announced Azure Location Based Services, an effort to integrate location capabilities directly into Azure for enterprise users. The addition of location services will allow Azure customers to securely take advantage of geographical data to do things like track IoT assets, fleet management, and much more.

"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, Microsoft Azure IoT. "For instance, a department of transportation can now use Azure Location Based Services to analyze 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."

As part of a partnership that began in late 2016, Microsoft is also tapping mapping company TomTom to supply the location data used by Azure Location Based Services, bolstering Microsoft's location and mapping capabilities and, in turn, the data available to Azure customers realying on Microsoft's APIs. Esri, another mapping and geographic information systems company that partnered with Microsoft at the same time as TomTom, will also 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," Microsoft says.

According to Microsoft, several companies have already been testing Azure Location Based Services in private preview. Fathym, an IoT solutions company, for example, has used the service to help government agencies to visualize road weather conditions on a map and adjust routes accordingly.

Azure Location Based Services is available now in public preview. The service is expected to launch globally in 2018 in 30 languages.