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Vietnam launches homemade digital map to rival Google Maps

Wednesday, October 02, 2019, 14:34 GMT+7
Vietnam launches homemade digital map to rival Google Maps
Officials attend the launch event of Vmap in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 1, 2019. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

Vmap, a Google Maps-like platform developed by the national postal service Vietnam Post Corporation, has gone online as part of an ambitious government-supported project to build a “digital Vietnamese knowledge system.”

A team of some 120,000 people, including Vietnam Post staff and volunteers, spent three months collecting data of over 23.4 million addresses nationwide for the database of Vmap, its developers said at a launch event in Hanoi on Tuesday.

Unlike existing digital map and GPS platforms, Vmap displays detailed addresses in even urban, remote or mountainous areas of Vietnam, they said.

Vmap is currently only available on its web platform, at https://vmap.vn/, as a mobile app is still under development.

It is unclear whether or how Vmap’s database will be regularly updated.

A screen grab of Vmap’s web platform interface.

A screen grab of Vmap’s web platform interface

Google Maps remains the most popular digital map service in Vietnam. The web mapping service developed by Google had over one billion monthly users in more than 200 countries and territories as of 2018, according to Ha Lam Tu Quynh, a representative of Google Asia Pacific.

The number of Google Maps users in Vietnam grew by 40 percent between 2017 and 2018, Quynh was quoted by Forbes Vietnam as saying in an email correspondence last year, without disclosing the actual number of active users in the country.

A Vmap-associated project coined ‘iNhandao’ (iHumanitarian), commissioned by the Vietnam Red Cross Society, was also announced at Tuesday’s event.

iNhandao uses Vmap’s extensive database to build a collection of addresses of trusted humanitarian organizations, orphanages and shelters, which is expected to help philanthropists target the right people for their charity.

A screen grab of iNhandao’s web platform interface.

A screen grab of iNhandao’s web platform interface

Speaking at the event, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam expressed his hope that more projects similar to iNhandao will help connect philanthropists and those in need for both material and educational support, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

Vmap is part of an ongoing project to build a “digital Vietnamese knowledge system” initiated by the prime minister’s decision in May 2017.

The project set out to “collect, systemize, localize, digitalize, archive, and disseminate knowledge in all fields” to the Vietnamese people with the goal of inspiring innovation.

It also aims to develop Vietnam’s own “digital content industry” and “guide [Internet] users' use of knowledge in the online environment."

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