Tech giant Apple is all set to roll out its data collection drive on the roads and streets of Dubai to upgrade Apple Maps features. The residents would be able to spot Apple vehicles that would be roaming in the city as a part of Maps rebuild, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Starting March 7 through June 15, people across Dubai are going to see Apple vehicles around the city and well-trained persons walking around with portable Apple backpacks as part of over three months survey.

Equipment-filled vehicles will explore Dubai's road while people with specially designed tech-equipped backpack will gather information about pedestrian-only areas in the emirate.

"Apple is conducting ground surveys with vehicles around the world to collect data to improve Apple Maps and to support the Look Around feature. Vehicle surveys may use equipment mounted on the outside of vehicles as well as iPhones, iPads, or other devises inside of vehicles," Apple spokesperson said in a statement to Khaleej Times.

In order to completely reconstruct its global map over the past few years, Apple has driven millions of miles with vehicles packed with sophisticated image and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) collection technology — a remote sensing method. These regular surveys in major global cities will be used to upgrade key features of Apple Maps that was first introduced in 2012.

The tech giant is updating more nations each year, and the updated map has already been made available in the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and other places.

Up-to-date map

Apple Maps, which made UAE debut in 2017, and the subscribers can use the service through an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch.The system offers directions in English and Arabic for journeys whether driving or walking.

"We may periodically revisit and re-collect data in some of those locations in an effort to maintain a high-quality, up-to-date map," according to Apple spokesperson.

"Apple is also conducting surveys with portable systems in select pedestrian areas. Some pedestrian surveys use a backpack system to collect data that may be used directly in Apple Maps, such as in the Look Around feature.

"Other pedestrian surveys use iPads, iPhones or other devices to collect data for map improvement purposes. These pedestrian surveys allow us to improve and update Apple Maps in areas where vehicles simply can't go while using the same privacy protections as the Apple Maps vehicles," the spokesperson added.

The backpack data gathering system is a more compact version of the vehicle collection system, but still allows for collection of LiDAR point cloud and imagery. Data collection through backpacks can cover pedestrian only streets, parks, plazas and transit stations where data can be used to create 2D maps.

Users privacy assured

The tech giant also assured protection of user's privacy while collecting the data through vehicles or backpacks.

"We are committed to protecting the user's privacy while conducting these surveys. For example, we will censor faces and licence plates on images that are published in Look Around," the Apple spokesperson said.

The Apple Maps only uses on-device intelligence for any sensitive information, and it is not linked to the users Apple ID. Maps can even obscure a user’s location on Apple servers, through a process it calls‘fuzzing’, according to a tech expert.

"Apple Maps offers a host of features that can help the users navigate to their destination whether they're driving, walking, biking,or taking public transportation. Each new version of iOS adds new features to ease travels and the apps subscribers must take advantage of the latest features in Maps," he added.

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