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What Tools Do You Need to Build a Mobile LBS Application Part 5

Route Optimisation

Time is a commodity you can’t buy more of, people are getting busier all the time. So far we have talked about being able to access and view a map, search for street addresses, Points of Interest and get driving directions to or from a location. We have looked at getting the coordinates of a location to display it on a map and we have looked at Reverse Geocoding to get the nearest street address to the location of a person or object.

The next thing is, what if you want to visit multiple locations on the same trip. You might be a merchandiser or service person with several visits to make and it doesn’t matter what order you do them in. You might be on holiday and wanting to explore the many attractions around you, or you could be visiting Open Homes.

It isn’t easy, looking at a map, to sort out what order to sort your visits into, you could get a pencil and a ruler and try to work out the route in your map book, or you could run your pen across the pages, as if completing a maze to sort out the order, but eventually you would have such a big mess that you would have to buy a new book. Of course this blog is about LBS, which typically means that we are developing applications for a mobile phone, that means that the user quite possibly doesn’t have a map book on them, or at the very least, doesn’t want to deface the book.

Here comes Route Optimisation, or as we call it at GeoSmart, Route2GO. Route Optimisation runs a very complex set of algorithms which look at every possible sequence of stops and comes up with the best order to do your visits. In its simplest form, it allows you to set your start and end points (which could be the same) and then tells you what order to make the visits in. The end result will be fewer kilometres travelled, less fuel, less time and less cost. This way of calculating is called The Travelling Salesman Problem. This concept is also great for people like the delivery truck for a furniture store. The optimised route tells the driver not only what order to do the deliveries in, but in reverse order, tells him how to load his truck so he doesn’t have to keep moving heavy objects around the truck, wasting time and energy and of course reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

There is also complex Route Optimisation. In this scenario there are all sorts of exceptions. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll keep it simple and limited to one day, because in a mobile situation, that’s probably all you would do, although of course you can do far more detailed planning in the office, for example a service manager could be planning how to meet their contractual commitments with multiple vehicles, multiple drivers, who don’t necessarily work on the same day and all sort of restrictions on the client side, such as day of the week, time of day etc. But I said I wouldn’t go into that.

Imagine you are in Queenstown on holiday and you are using one of the Proximity Based Marketing examples, we outlined for the Location Innovation Awards, where you want to visit multiple attractions. Some services like the Bungy Jump are a bit of a drive and others are close by, so you have logistical situations as to how to fit the most experiences into a day. But in order to do the jet boat ride and the Earnslaw cruise, there are time constraints and you have to be at certain places at certain times.

Imagine you are house hunting and a number of the properties you want to look at have Open Homes, which are on at different times.

Complex Route Optimisation would let you specify the times you have to be at certain places and also lets you set the amount of time you want to spend at each one. For Open Homes you might plan, say 15 minutes at each property, but the tourist activities have different times. The jet boat ride might be 45 minutes and the Earnslaw cruise an hour and a half. This tool would allow people to really get the most out of their day and at the same time drive the least distance, least time and cost for travel.

These web services are available as web services and can work very well on a mobile if the application is designed properly. Of course you could also use them on a web site and then have the results sent to the computer as SMS or perhaps a link that open the mobiles browser.

An application that provided these services would use a number of the tools we have previously discussed.

  • You need to identify and geocode the locations to confirm where they are and enable the optimisation.
  • You will want to be able to view the locations on a map to verify what is happening, both for confidence and comprehension.
  • You will need to use the Points Of Interest Web Service to look up street addresses and a database (either your own, a custom one such as seen at Bayleys or Professionals Real Estate.  or subscribing to some of the Point of Interest (POI) categories that GeoSmart offers which cover everything from geographical and historical to cafes, restaurants, attractions etc. You can see loyts of examples on AA Maps.
  • The Directions API would be used once you had established the order of the locations you are visiting and can provide turn by turn driving directions on your mobile from a to b to c and so on.

Just as an aside, the GeoSmart POI database contains additional contact information including phone numbers, email, web site etc, where appropriate. This means that you can also provide links in the mobile application so that people could add information to the contact list in the phone, or the ability to directly call the number from the application, without having to memorise, or copy and save the number.

So now you have used a number of GeoSmart tools (web services and API’s) to create your mobile LBS application. GeoSmart has many more tools available and we don’t stop. Our guys are constantly coming up with new tools and applications. If you haven’t found everything you need to develop your application or concept on the Developer Page, leave a comment or question, or contact us by email at info@geosmart.co.nz.

This was the last blog in this series, but there are many more interesting concepts and stories to tell you about, so please keep coming back, bookmark the main blog page or subscribe using your favourite RSS Feeder. And please feel free to comment, it would be great to share your comments and ideas.

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April 6, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, cartography, Delivery, driving, driving directions, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, location innovation awards, map tools, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, optmisation, proximity based marketing, route optimisation, satnav, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does LBS have to do with advertising media?

The world of information technology and communications (ITC) is changing at a rapid pace and some of the changes have been subtle and unexpected. Some things take a long time for people to get their heads around, but sometimes they just start doing things and take them for granted. Social networking is a classic example that businesses are now trying to understand how they can get involved.

Technology is changing the way we live, the way we interact with each other and the way we interact with the businesses and services we enjoy.

Last week there was a news story, saying that TVNZ is planning to lay off 90 staff, as it moves to save $25 million. In it,  Chief Executive Rick Ellis was quted as saying that the layoffs represent approximately 25% of the costs reductions needed due to falling advertising revenue. I don’t recall who it was but someone recently was telling me that they never watch TV advertising but one evening he and his wife decided that the would watch the TVC’s. The next morning he asked his wife what brands were represented in the TVC’s they watched the previous night, she couldn’t name one.

People can avoid TV commercials by recording their programs with MySky and now of course Tivo has also launched in New Zealand. I don’t know if it works in New Zealand, but in the US I believe that you can program your Tivo to not even record advertisements at all as there is an encoded message that tells it when advertising starts and ends.

Around the world there are newspapers closing down, going out of business because not enough people are buyig them any more, which means they can’t sell enough advertising to keep them going and people are choosing other media such as the Internet to find their news.

Huge numbers of people are favouring their iPods and other MP3 players instead of listening to the radio. People are buying less music CD’s because they have access to other media such as iTunes, YouTube and MySpace to mention a few legal ways they can access their entertainment.

Then of course there is mobile and virtually everyone has a mobile phone and sometimes two.  The days that your phone was only for voice and SMS are long gone. Today on our mobiles we can check email, take photos and post them onto websites such as Facebook, read or watch the news, Instant Message, check our social networking applications and more.

Then there is the location component. A couple of weeks ago I was able to show my location using Google Lattitude on my mobile to my friends. I was able to monitor my pace and calorie burn on Allsport GPS and post photos that I took on my phone straight to my Facebook page while I was running.

So back to the original topic, what does all that have to do with advertising media. Simple really. If your phone knows where you are and you opt in to services that tell you about things you want to know about, relative to where you are and when you are there, you can be offered all sorts of relevant goods and services that you will want to know about and take advantage of.

This afternoon I was talking to a partner about their participation in a 100km bike race. The bike race would have been sponsored by industry leaders including bike manufacturers, sports drink and supplement brands and other partners. The event and the activity in general takes place on the road, so is very location oriented. If you register for the event, a brand would be very keen to make offers to you. Because you are in the event, they can market very specifically and know that their likely response rate is going to be very high. A LBS application could involve maps and directions, but also relevant Points of Interest. Prior to and after the event they could include where to buy a new bike or bike accessories, or where to get a pre-race service or gear check.

It could include where to stay, where to get healthy food, where to train, where to buy your drinks and supplements, a message as you come near a cycle clothing shop of promotional deals, with an electronic coupon displayed on your mobile phone. It could show you where you can get refreshments on the way or even where to find a public toilet. It can show you where the start points are and a route for the supporters to be able to go from point to point without running into the cyclists. It could help companies or supporters get to a cyclist who has gear damage. Prior to or after the event it could even provide a social network to help you find training partners in different parts of the country, for example if you are away on a business trip and have your bike with you. Sponsorship, brand association can be tied to actual sales promotions, which are triggered by people who have opted in to a service who are close to the store or place where a service is available.

These sorts of service would be opt-in, which means that people sign up to a service and specify when and under what conditions they may be contacted on their mobile. Because the service offers benefits to the user and the user is specifically interested in the sport and active at the time, there is a far greater likely response rate than traditional scattergun media advertising which is traditonally very costly.

GeoSmart of course is able to display maps, provide turn by turn driving directions from anywhere to anywhere in New Zealand. It has a Points of Interest Web Service which can help geocode and display relevant locations like shops, cafes, public toilets etc and the Proximity Tool can assist in identifying relationships between POI which could for example be an alert when a cycle rider is within a kilometer of a bike shop using GPS or other tools to identify the location of the cyclist. This could be combined with a social network, registration for an event, an interest group or perhaps an exclusive service for an event, or the customers of a particular brand, for example you can use this service for free, but only after purchasing an Avanti bike.

If you are interested in concepts like this, please subscribe to this blog, and feel free to leave comments or questions. if you want to talk to someone about any of these ideas, please email info@geosmart.co.nz.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Agencies, awards, cartography, driving, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, location innovation awards, maps, Marketing, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Sales, satnav, social networking, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More on the Awards Night

If you haven’t caught up with the Awards night yet, you will find lots of information about it on the Awards Web Page. It includes photos that we took on the night as well as details of who all the winners and finalists were.

We enjoyed lots of media coverage including IT Brief, The Channel, PC World, and was apparently on the front page of Google NZ News for 3 days which is a real coup. The benefit of this is of course that more people get the message that LBS is here and now.

We will be working closely with some of the entrants to see how we can help some of these applications are built and available to the public.

March 30, 2009 Posted by | awards, competition, competitions, geosmart, lbs, location innovation awards | , , , , | Leave a comment

Location Based Services and Agencies

Now that the Awards are over, at least for a few months,  I’m hoping to have a little more time for blogging.

I have been talking to a number of agencies over the last 3-4 years about LBS. I don’t know whether it was me or that the bright lights in this agency space seem to all go offshore, often within the same company before we get to do anything together. Companies like The Hyperfactory have been doing some cool things on the edge of LBS, but it seems that all their cool stories these days are also overseas. It was great to see them enter the awards this year, though and they have a Finalist Award to add to their trophy room which must be bursting at the seams.

The types of LBS applications are very wide and we could have had many more categories in the awards. The thing is that location is simply what it sounds like. It is about where you are and what you are doing wherever you are. It could be about having a pizza delivered to you on the beach, or about catching the bus to Get Somewhere. It could be about going on a treasure hunt or finding a bar or cafe nearby afterwards. Location is ubiquitous, just as your mobile phone is. You are always somewhere. If your phone knows where you are, then it can help you find things, places and people. It can help you be entertained, help you with your sport or hobby, provide you with localised information, the list is infinite.

So back to Agencies. LBS adds another vehicle to incorporate into Marketing and Advertising Campaigns. It gives them the opportunity to come up with fun and compelling ways for brands to interact with consumers and other customers at the time and place that has the most relevance. Traditional forms of advertising are very often scattergun and rely on high levels of repetition to realise a call to action. Traditional Direct Marketing (DM) considers 5-7% response to be a good result. In my book that says that over 90% of the DM spend is wasted. Why is that? Because most people are not open to buy or looking for their products at the time they are ‘exposed’ to the promotion. In addition to that, most people are smart enough to look for what they want, when they want it. They will then either check out their favourite stores or use Google to find the products they want.

The other huge resource that people use is Word of Mouth Marketing, which these days means talking to people close to them, or just as likely today, to use Social Networking sites to ask the opinion of their ‘friends’.

So what can agencies do? They can come up with campaigns or solutions that are relevant to people’s interests at the time and place that is relevant to them. The time and place to tell someone about the great new winter fashion that is in their favourite clothing store, is when they are entering the mall. The time to tell people about the new Stephen King book is when they are near the bookshop.I’m going to talk a lot more about these concepts in the coming days and weeks, so why not subscribe to this blog with your favourite RSS aggregation app  like iGoogle.Just to put things straight, LBS is not something that will replace other forms of marketing, it will augment the campaigns, reinforcing the messages and making them relevant and encourage an immediate call to action. It is an enabler and a tool that will help brands fine tune their target marketing and improve its effectiveness.

I will also explain in future blogs how the tools and data that GeoSmart Maps has, can facilitate the creation of the applications or features of LBS from a laymans persepctive. I’m not a developer, but what I do understand very well is what each tool does and how it can be implemented to achieve the results you want. So if you want to know more, watch this space, bookmark it or get yourself an RSS Reader.

Also, do feel free to comment or ask questions.

A PAcked Room of LBS Enthusiasts at the Location Innovation Awards

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Agencies, awards, competition, competitions, geosmart, gps, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, maps, Marketing, new zealand, proximity based marketing, social networking, viral marketing, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The 2009 Location Innovation Awards Get Somewhere

Pretty soon you will be able to find out which bus to catch, get turn by turn walking directions to the bus stop, be told to walk a little faster so you won’t miss it and be able to pay for your bus ticket, all on your mobile phone. These concepts won Auckland University Student, Matt Weston a trip to the Where 2.0 Conference in San Jose in May this year as winner of the Grand Prize of the Inaugural GeoSmart Location Innovation Awards with his mobile phone application called Get Somewhere.

On Wednesday night a packed house attended the GeoSmart 2009 Location Innovation Awards Prize Giving event at Sale St in Auckland to celebrate the beginning of a new era in Kiwi ingenuity and to find out that LBS is going to change the way many of us interact with the world around us, with location aware mobile phones.

GeoSmart Sales & Marketing Manager, Luigi Cappel presented research and examples from Europe and the UK and said, “If your mobile is aware of its location, all sorts of wonderful applications can enrich your life. We were looking for some new Kiwi icons to showcase Kiwi inventiveness for this new industry segment, and I believe we found a number of them. Matt Weston also took out the Category Award for Proximity Based Marketing with Get Somewhere.”

“Other category winners included agency TBWA\WHYBIN TEQUILA\ who won the Location Based Games Category with Adipush, a sports motivation application which appears destined for adoption in a number of countries around the world only weeks after its conception. They also took away the Social Networking Category with Facebook Carpool Tree, which combines social networking with viral marketing in a concept that has every likelihood of achieving what other carpool concepts have missed. The application was extremely well conceived and will give TBWA\WHYBIN TEQUILA\ and their clients an edge in a time when traditional marketing media such as TVC’s, Radio and Print Advertising are dwindling. The Agencies that understand the concepts of associating brands with mobile LBS stand to achieve CTR’s and response rates unheard of in traditional marketing.”

The other major winner was Neil McCallum with House-Mouse in the AA Maps Widget Category. An application that is designed to put the search for appropriate Real Estate back in the hands of the buyer who can find the properties they are looking for based on their criteria as well as optimising the route and getting printable turn by turn directions to take with them. “While the application was designed to print the directions from the AA Maps web site,” said McCallum. “The next logical step would of course be to have the directions and route maps along with other relevant information sent directly to your mobile.”

GeoSmart General Manager, Phil Allen said, “We have been so thrilled with the high calibre of entries and support from the industry, that we have already committed to running this competition again in 2009-2010. “

March 19, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, carbon footprint, competition, competitions, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, route optimisation, social networking, tomtom, Uncategorized, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Location Innovation Awards Prize Giving

It’s almost over for the first year, the judges are deliberating and we are preparing the Prize Giving Event.

The GeoSmart Event will be held in conjunction with the Wireless & Broadband Forum’s Wireless Wednesday on 18th March. For more information have a look at the competition web site.

The quality of entries has been superb and the judges have been very impressed with the ideas that have come through in all of the four categories. Student entries have also been very good.

Come to the Awards night on the 18th and find out what LBS is all about. Find out how you can participate. Many applications are opportunities for web developers, telecommunications providers, media and advertising companies, brands, tourism, sport, entertainment, the list goes on.

All four categories; Proximity Based Marketing, Location Based Social Networking, Location Based Games and Widgets for AA Maps have been well covered.

The sponsors should be well pleased with the results and will be looking for ways to get involved in this disruptive technology that is going to change many of the ways we do business and interact with each other.  We owe special thanks to Sony Ericsson, MyMobile Magazine, Tomizone, Vodafone, Geekzone, TomTom, the Wireless and Broadband Forum, AA Tourism and Massey University for their support.

Given the success of this event, we have already started planning for the 2010 Location Innovation Awards, so if you wanted to get involved but left it too late, next year’s competition will be even bigger and better.

We hope to see you at the Awards Night, do make sure you RSVP as we don’t want to be turning you away at the door! Details are on the competition web site if we haven’t already sent you an invitation.

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March 5, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, car navigation, competition, competitions, education, geosmart, gps, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, school, social networking, tomtom, Uncategorized, university, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deadline Extended for the Location Innovation Awards

A number of people have told me that they have not quite completed their entries into the Location Innovation Awards. We want as many entries as possible so we have decided to extend the deadline to Monday 23 February at 5P.M. so if you left it to the last minute and still want a chance at some of those great prizes, get stuck in this week and over the weekend and you still have a great chance to be recognised.

If you haven’t seen them, we have a number of blogs full of ideas including LBS Games, Social Communities, Friend or Buddy Finders, Proximity Based Marketing, and Marketing campaigns for products such as V or ice cream, or summer concerts in parks in conjunction with radio stations.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to help shape the future and know that you played a part in the way technology has been used?

February 17, 2009 Posted by | awards, competition, competitions, geosmart, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, proximity based marketing, social networking, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s almost over, get your Location Innovation Awards entries in now!

So you’ve done the thinking, you’ve come up with a great LBS concept and you’ve ticked all the boxes and created your entry documentation for this great competition. You haven’t finished? Well guess what you’re going to do this weekend? You need to hurry up and finish it and get it to us by 5PM on Monday evening or all your hard work will have been for nothing.

Have another look at the Location Innovation Awards website and check out all the great prizes you can win. Wouldn’t you like a free trip to California?

You had a great idea, this is your opportunity to do something with it. It’s free to enter and you may just make a name for yourself and secure an exciting future as well as see your idea become reality.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | awards, competition, competitions, geosmart, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, social networking | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Location Innovation Awards Entries to start coming in over the next 2 weeks

It’s not too late to register or enter, but if you are planning to enter the Location innovation Awards, your entry has to reach us by 16 February, a little over 2 weeks away. So far we have 37 entries and we are looking forward to seeing the great ideas that people have come up with about applications they would like to be able to use.

I have just come back from the Location Based Services Forum in Amsterdam and was astounded by the variety of applications being developed in and around Europe, some of which are very exciting and very relevant to New Zealand. I saw some great applications in all the categories in the competition including proximity based marketing, social networking, lbs games and web map widgets.

As you will see on the Awards website, there are lots of great prizes including a trip to the Where 2.0 conference in California in May, only a few months away. So if that sounds like you, check out the website and join in the fun. You don’t have to be able to develop the applicatin, but you do have to be able to think through and document the concepts. Time is running out, so if you have been thinking about it, hurry to the website, register and receive the info pack.

It is free to enter the competition and the only restriction is that you must either be a New Zealand citizen or currently live in New Zealand.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | awards, competition, competitions, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, social networking, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GeoSmart is recognised as a finalist in the 2009 Vero Excellence Awards

As a great way to end 2008, GeSmart has just been advised that they are a finalist in the 2009 Vero Excellence in Business Awards.This is a prestigious Award sponsored by Vero, BDO Spicers and National Business Review. Organisers said that there was a record number of entries and the quality of finalists was a notch higher than previous years.

Mike Watson, chief executive of the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation said “In finalists we look for organisations that demonstrate they have robust processes in place to address key business and stakeholder/customer requirements. The delivery of products and services should be based on sound processes and the business should demonstrate clear direction and specific objectives to achieve success. Most importantly we look for evidence of success via the outputs and outcomes from business processes.”

GeoSmart General Manager, Phil Allen said, “This is an excellent start for what may well be one of the most exciting years in GeoSmart’s 30 years in business, with a number of major product launches  to be announced early in the year. We are delighted to be recognised for our work and this is a significant pat on the back for the entire team at GeoSmart who are passionate about our business and the benefits we are delivering to businesses and consumers.”

December 18, 2008 Posted by | awards, geosmart, maps | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment