India’s largest eCommerce marketplace by GMV, Flipkart is set to collaborate with MapUnity, a Social Technology Lab by Dr. Ashwin Mahesh, that is known for developing a variety of platforms for urban management, safety and transport etc. The collaboration may also be a prelude to Flipkart’s Mapping business-Flipkart Maps taking a more central role in the company’s business schemes.
Flipkart Maps came to prominence after it acquired a minority stake in CE Info Systems Pvt. Ltd which owns digital mapping business MapmyIndia. According to inside sources at the company, it is now collaborating with MapUnity in a bid to boost its supply chain systems.
MapUnity is an initiative of Ashwin Mahesh, an Indian urbanist, journalist, politician, social technologist, former Antarctic climate scientist, former NASA scientist and a leader of the Lok Satta Party — Phew, that is one long list — that has been combining mapping with social and urban issues to develop innovative solutions for Indian cities.
MapUnity recently launched TechNagara, a social network for connecting the cities chosen by the government in its ‘Smart Cities’ mission along with a few other major centers.
The project is aimed at bringing public information about governance to one place while also encouraging and enhancing the role public can play in solving their own problems.
Speaking on the topic, Mahesh had said,
This will be a platform that cross-uses drives innovation, features, value. In TechNagara, a single platform can be used for transport, energy, security, tourism for each city, 126 cities in all. The rationale is also that a single tech platform can be used as a smart backbone for many cities. That keeps costs low, which is especially important for Tier 2 cities
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how Flipkart Maps develop as a service in it own rights. The December 2015 MapMyIndia purchase was termed by Flipkart as “strategic”.
And indeed, at that time, the move was seen as nothing more than an attempt by the company to strengthen its supply chain network. However, Flipkart seems to have other plans in mind for its mapping division.
Exactly how far those plans go, only time will tell. Meanwhile, we await an official announcement from either Flipkart or MapUnity confirming their association.