Enabling collaborative mapmaking: Ana Lira builds the framework for the future of maps
Mehdi Comeau·Feb 28, 2024

Enabling collaborative mapmaking: Ana Lira builds the framework for the future of maps

Mehdi Comeau blogjpeg
Mehdi Comeau
Feb 28, 2024 · 4 min read
Ana Lira builds the framework for the future of maps | TomTom Newsroom

With the buzz of mapmaking innovation on high, TomTom isn’t losing sight of the people behind the tech. In this interview, we share the story of Ana Lira, VP Engineering. Her career is painted with the full colors of passion and curiosity, always determined to build what has never been built before – which is exactly what she’s doing at TomTom.

Ever since she was young, Ana’s mindset has been geared towards results. When we asked her what she dreamt of being as a child, she replied, “I had a very clear goal: to be a doctor, as it combines science with helping people and saving lives.” She already saw how her interests, talents and skills could be used to do good in the world. This approach is a testament to the passion and curiosity that Ana has displayed throughout her 25-year+ journey as an engineer.

Indeed, she didn’t end up becoming a doctor. With letters of acceptance from medical and engineering schools, she pivoted to engineering, “as there was a biomedical research group that I thought could be a way to combine the two,” she says. Her work with the group turned into a six-month immersion into biomedical research, sparking her journey into the world of tech.

The motto: If it hasn’t been built, build it

Ana has an affinity for getting involved with what hasn’t been done. So with a degree in electronical engineering, she started working at a global telecom company in Venezuela during the first big internet boom. “Everything was new to the market and we had to stay ahead of the competition. It was super exciting to keep innovating all the time, knowing I’m working on brand-new technologies every day. I really loved it,” she says.

Ana moved to Spain with the same company, delving into analytics and big data for international projects, which led her to Amazon where she once again plugged into innovation that scales. “We built solutions for a new business at Amazon, the B2B business,” she says.

The vision: There is no limit, everything is possible

“What I love about software engineering is that you can do whatever you want. There is no limit, everything is possible,” Ana says. So what matters is where you choose to apply yourself.

Ana heard about TomTom’s mission to engineer the world’s first real-time map from one of her colleagues at Amazon, who’s now SVP Engineering Maps at TomTom. Looking into the company further made joining TomTom an easy choice for Ana.

To be at my best, I need to work on something that is really difficult – that nobody else has done. TomTom has the perfect space for engineers to think outside the box and try things out. And what we’re doing in mapmaking is so valuable to society. People around the world use our tech all the time, multiple times every single day.

Ana Lira

VP Engineering

Beyond the challenge and societal value add, Ana’s also at TomTom for the people and culture. “Having the opportunity to work with the right talent and leadership principles is very important – you’re learning from others and others are really helping you to be better at what you do. I find this everywhere at TomTom,” Ana says.

The impact: Enabling the future of mapmaking

Ana and her team are at the forefront of TomTom’s latest innovation: Orbis Maps. Orbis is like no map ever made, built on the new standard in mapmaking, established by TomTom and its partners in the Overture Foundation. What sets Orbis apart from the rest of the world of maps is that it’s collaborative and interoperable – combining the best of both proprietary and open-source data. Ana’s job revolves around supporting the essential collaborative and quality elements of the map.

Ana explains, “We’re working on the framework that supports all the different map content producers, and putting all that information together in a way that consumers can easily use the map – as an everyday map user or a business integrating APIs to power apps and services. Our work distills down into three key areas: content production, feedback resolution and analytics.”

She continues, “What is super critical is to make it easy for everyone to add their content to the map, but also to take advantage of the final map and use it in a way that is efficient and effective for their valued use cases.”

The meaning: Finding your place in the world

Ana’s childhood goal of helping people continues to be her North Star as she navigates the endless possibilities of innovative engineering at TomTom. She already mentioned how important her colleagues are to her, and she’s excited to share everything she enjoys at TomTom with more people.

If you’re an engineer considering TomTom, Ana will tell you, “It’s one of the most interesting projects that you could be working on today, in any problems space. No matter what kind of engineering expertise you want to gain, here you’ll find the opportunity. And you’ll see how helpful what you do is in the different spaces it's being used, such as delivery, automotive and many more applications that people use in their daily life.”

Ana’s passion and curiosity continue empowering an exciting career full of meaning. Tap into yours, and make your mark in the history of tech.

Become an engineer at TomTom

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