Navigation programming standard

As the car navigation industry has grown, so has incompatibility between navigation systems and databases that store important location information.

But soon all that might be a thing of the past, thanks to a new ISO standard that defines a navigation system’s application programming interface (API).

Car navigation systems use map databases to give precise driving directions, or to determine the vehicle’s location and provide information about nearby points of interest, such as restaurants and hotels. Some newer systems can also receive and display information on traffic congestion and suggest alternate routes.

The new standard will help facilitate the interoperability between navigation systems and map databases by providing an interface that will make information accessible and retrievable.

It describes what data may be retrieved from a database, defines the interface for access and specifies a set of navigation function calls. It also describes the design of the API and gives examples of its intended use. Furthermore, it specifies the criteria used to determine if a data access library is in accordance with the standard.

‘Having an API that defines the methods that navigation system software developers may use to select a travel destination, request a route to a destination, display the planned path, and guide a traveller to a destination will improve the efficiency of the development of navigation systems,’ said Carl Stephen Smyth, project leader of the group in ISO technical committee ISO/TC 204, Intelligent transport systems, which developed the new standard.

While the standard – ISO 17267:2009 – is primarily targeted at self-contained in-vehicle systems, it is expected to be used by other applications that use map data results in essentially the same way. For example, it may be used in a client/server environment and/or by distributed navigation systems and location-based services without further specialisation.

The standard is not restricted to physical media and is independent of any underlying physical storage format.

ISO 17267:2009, Intelligent transport systems – Navigation systems – Application programming interface (API) is available from ISO national member institutes.