A map database is a static snapshot. In the real world, conditions change constantly: Roads become congested, new roads are built, roads are converted to one-way traffic, and toll roads are added. There are many changes that impact users of mobile location service applications. Traffic conditions might make a route generated from a route engine that is not traffic aware unusable. So how does spatial analysis software account for these changes?
Given that map database vendors only ship updates several times a year, a better method to make interim updates is needed. Although it would be quite challenging to add new spatial data, such as a new road, changing the values of the attributes associated with existing spatial data can accommodate most updates.
Real-time traffic is the most obvious case for updating attributes in real time. Traffic incidents have a significant impact on routing. Information collected from a traffic incident would be used to change a road's travel speed, or even block it completely.
There are many other applications that can take advantage of the ability to make real-time attribute changes. Attribute editing allows an application developer to further improve the data quality and make interim updates between map vendor release dates.