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Free AA Traffic on your Navman MY30 at Dick Smith if You are Quick

This isn’t really what this blog is usually about, but this is such a great deal, that I thought I’d share it with you.

This month, i.e. right now, we have supported a Navman promotion with Dick Smith Electronics. The deal is (while stocks last) that you can buy a Navman MY30 for $266 and they will include a free Lifetime License for AA Traffic. AA Traffic is normally a $129 add on, so this is an awesome deal.

This is a great opportunity to try out AA Real Time Traffic on a nav unit. This is one of the best ways to get AA Traffic. You don’t have to look at a web site like Roadwatch or AA Maps before you go. You don’t have to subscribe to a TXT or Email Alert service. You don’t even have to know where you are going before you get into your car.

People have often said, I know my way around, so I don’t need car navigation. They may well be right, but they don’t know what may be happening on the road ahead.  Does it matter, not if you don’t mind spending hours detouring around an incident or waiting until a road reopens. This week we had a stock truck and trailer roll on State Highway One by Puhoi. AA Traffic started sending out alerts at around 6:30 AM, so traffic heading north who were using AA Traffic didn’t get stuck. Here’s the thing. That road, the main road between Auckland and Northland, didn’t reopen for almost 6 hours! What is 6 hours of your work day worth to you?

This was a bad one, but there are always incidents, roadworks, slips, floods, wandering stock and all manner of issues on our roads. At the time I am writing this blog, we have 479 current incidents and 478 upcoming incidents such as ramp closures, sporting events etc. Here’s a classic situation for you. You go to an evening concert in Auckland City and you’re heading home to the North Shore. You get to Fanshawe St to get on the motorway to cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the on-ramp is closed for maintenance, which they deliberately do at night to reduce inconvenience to motorists, but it has to be done. Do you know how to get to an alternative on-ramp? Your car nav does and would have told you when you first got in your car, so you wouldn’t have even tried that entrance.

Smart people who know their way around New Zealand but spend a lot of time on the road will be buying car navigation to be able to access real time traffic so they can avoid accidents and incidents. This deal is only for limited stock, so you need to get to your local Dick Smith Electronics store quick-smart.  The deal is for a Navman MY30 at $266 and AA Traffic (usually $129) is only while stocks last. Great Mother’s Day gift, or for yourself.

Not convinced? If you lost a few hours on 4th of May when SH1 closed by Puhoi, how much was that time worth to your company? Less than $266? How often can you buy a business tool that gives you ROI that quickly? What if you were heading to the airport to catch a plane for a day trip to Wellington or for an overseas business trip or holiday. I’m sure it happened to some people.

Sometimes these incidents are an irritation, sometimes they are major.  With AA Traffic on your car navigation unit, they can very often be avoided entirely.

May 5, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving, driving directions, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, Traffic, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup in Auckland is just over a year away and GeoSmart is looking forward to the opportunities that come with it. As New Zealand’s premier location-based services (Mapping) company there are many areas that we will be looking at. These include:

  • Cartography. We produce many printed maps. These include map books for Wises and the NZ Automobile Association, as well as several travel atlas products for various organisations such as the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, which includes locations of Points of Interest of unique interest. We also produce custom maps for many organisations ranging from hotels to regional tourism organisations.
  • Car Navigation. GeoSmart is the provider of map data and Points of Interest for the leading brands including Navman and TomTom. Many people coming from overseas will be able to use our map data to find the venues, accommodation, attractions, parking, bars and much more for the Rugby World Cup, making their trip stress free. We also now offer real time traffic to car navigation which would be great if you are trying to get to a venue close to kick off.
  • Real Time Traffic. We built and manage the new AA Traffic service. This service provides information on traffic incidents that might interfere with people getting to the match on time.  We do this with a number of services including subscription alerts via Email and Text Messaging, which can be found on the AA Traffic website. Traffic is also shown on other AA websites, Roadwatch and AA Maps. Real Time Traffic is also of course available on your car navigation product such as with Navman.
  • AA Maps website. This website is the perfect site for local and overseas travellers. A significant proportion of web traffic to AA’s websites come from overseas and this includes AA Maps. People are guided here with links from affiliated motoring associations around the world as well as people looking for services such as driving directions. This is a great site for people planning their routes, looking for other things to do while they are travelling, where to stay, where to eat and drink and where to have some fun and adventure.
  • Mobile Applications / Location Based Services. We are working with several companies who are developing applications for smartphones such as iPhone and Android. When your mobile knows where it is, it becomes easy to use GeoSmart’s highly accurate data about New Zealand roads and points of interest to add value to people touring New Zealand following the rugby tournament.
  • Web Mapping. Many companies use GeoSmart’s web mapping tools in their custom environments. Examples may be found on our home page. If you are looking to add maps, points of interest and turn by turn directions to your site, we would love to chat with you about how we can help.
  • Carbon Friendly. This has become a very important topic and one that we are committed to supporting. We are able to support concepts such as Eco-Routing, in effect, finding the route that uses the least fuel and carbon waste. Our RAPIDcV has been continuing to drive all of New Zealand at around 15cm accuracy, not only getting an accurate road centreline but also measuring the road’s inclination and even the camber of corners on the road. This highly accurate data allows us to support organisations focused on sustainable eco friendly policies.
  • Multi-modal routing. We have been developing solutions supporting the ability to guide people through various means of transport from foot to motorised. This includes situations where one trip might include different forms of transport. Rugby fans might use a combination. For example, they might drive to a carpark, then use public transport, finally walking from there to the match venue via restaurants and bars. Each transport medium has its own set of rules. For example a person walking, doesn’t need to worry about one-way streets and may be able to take advantage of short cuts through arcades etc, to get to their destination.

Whilst the Rugby World Cup may be over a year away, GeoSmart is working closely with our partners to assist them in achieving their goals, through the use of our data, web services and API’s and other products. If you would like more information, you will find our contact details here.

March 7, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, carbon footprint, cartography, driving, driving directions, geosmart, GIS, gps, iphone, lbs, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, real time traffic, route optimisation, Rugby World Cup, satnav, Sport, tomtom, Traffic | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Route2GO Improving Productivity and Profit for New Zealand Companies

GeoSmart has just released a new version of  Route²GO as a web service, providing vehicle route optimisation for company fleets as small as one vehicle, but scalable to any size of fleet.

This new service is based on what we know of in the industry as The Travelling Salesman problem. In effect if I have x number of places to visit in a day, what is the most economic order to do them in?

Typically route optimisation involves buying an expensive piece of software that only large companies (by NZ standards) can afford, together with employing an expensive engineer to run it. GeoSmart has now released the same technology as a web service, pricing for which is transaction based. This means that it can be used by a furniture store with 1 truck, as easily as for a large company with many vehicles.

There is a small amount of work involved in order to access the web service, which can be done by web developers or anyone who understands how a web service works. It could be merged with something as simple as a spreadsheet, or tied in to a legacy application. It would work very nicely with a range of applications from CRM, Accounting Software, ERP, dispatch and more.

For technical details on how Route²GO works, please visit our Developer Pages. For examples and more information on the benefits, we have information here.

Now we are looking for NZ partners. We do not typically sell solutions to end users. We work with partners who can add this service as a value add into their solution, or perhaps even create a new niche solution. We have some partners already in this space, including companies like Gen-i and Navman Wireless, but we are also keen to find more.

Many products have a long ROI period, which makes them hard to sell, especially in today’s economy. Pricing for Route²GO is transaction based. This means that until you start using it, you pay nothing. Pricing is also scaled based on volume over a year and also the amount of detail in our output. The cheapest result is simply the order to drive the visits in, with the option of estimated driving time and distance for each stop. The next step includes turn by turn driving instructions and the full monte includes the ability to view and print out full turn by turn directions complete with route and locational maps, that can be panned and zoomed before printing or importing into an application.

What skills do you need? If you can structure a query as outlined here, then you have the requisite experience. We offer a free Developer Agreement to companies looking to partner with us. There are no costs associated in developing a solution or testing with this web service.

We are happy to meet with potential partners or clients, to discuss their needs and help them find the best solution both in the web service and the integration, but our part stops at that point as we do not compete with our channel.

Want to know more? Contact us.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, Delivery, driving, driving directions, Freight, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, map tools, maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, optmisation, route optimisation, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AA Traffic Subscriptions Peak During Auckland Bus Strike

Subscriptions to the new AA Traffic service peaked during the Auckland Bus Strike according to AA Traffic spokesperson, Phil Allen. “Many Auckland commuters turned back to their cars as a mode of transport during the strike. As the strike continued we saw many people subscribe to our new Real Time Traffic service in the expectation that, without buses, there would be many more cars on the road. Fortunately it was also school holidays so the additional vehicles on the road still left traffic levels not too different from the normal work and school week.”

Feedback from people affected by the bus strike varied. Several said that they enjoyed walking or cycling to work and, subject to weather conditions would continue to do that. Others had more difficulty, such as having to catch taxis to hospital appointments or getting children to school. It is likely that for some time at least, many commuters will go back to the comfort of the car, some even saying that driving is cheaper and more convenient.

AA Traffic is a new service developed by GeoSmart Maps for the New Zealand Automobile Association, which offers email and SMS traffic alerts, as well as displaying them at AA Maps, Roadwatch and sent direct to certain Navman car navigation devices, which is offering extra special deals for AA Members.

October 20, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, driving, geosmart, gps, location based services, maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, Traffic, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Tools Do You Need to Develop a Mobile LBS Application Part 4

A key component and possibly the second highest webmap query on the Internet is for Driving Directions and this has even more relevance in a mobile scenario. Driving Directions is a key point of difference for GeoSmart in New Zealand. In many other countries, the government provides free or low cost map data of a very high quality and suitable for car navigation and other purposes. In New Zealand this isn’t the case. The LINZ maps are the official datum for cadastral property boundaries. However, their road centreline is derived by a computation of the property boundaries.

As I’ve previously mentioned, New Zealand was town planned in Edinborough in the late 1800’s and many of the roads they draughted were never formed or constructed. They are known as paper roads. These roads exist on paper and on the LINZ map data used by services such as Google Maps, but they physically don’t exist. An example is Threepwood Road in Otago. If you have a look on the hybrid mode of satellite view and map view on Google, you will see that while the road exists on the map data, it physcially isn’t there in the satellite photography. This would cause a real problem if you wanted to go for a drive on it.

When GeoSmart discovered this problem and realised that, while it didn’t matter a lot for printed maps where you still have to analyse the data and make a decision on where you drive yourself, practically speaking, if you used either car navigation or a printed set of directions and couldn’t see a map as such, paper roads could cause a lot of confusion and grief. With LINZ having the only full maps of New Zealand, we decided we had to make our own maps. To do this we drove almost every road in New Zealand and also used a lot of Orthophotography to develop a driven road centreline, eliminating all paper roads and at the same time creating an accurate road centreline.

While collecting this data, we were also able to collect information such as the intersections controls (roundabouts, traffic lights etc), turn restrictions (one way streets, no left turns), speed zones, whether the road was sealed, accuracy of street signs and much more. We were even able to establish things like the angles of corners and inclination of roads (how steep they are etc).

This enabled us to build the car navigation dataset used by all the major brands including TomTom, Navman, BMW, Ford, Siemens VDO etc. It also allowed us to create sites like AA Maps and provide the API’s used on Wises web site. Now you can go to AA Maps, plan your journey and print out turn by turn directions from anywhere in NZ to anywhere in NZ and be confident that the instructions will work.

So, from there to your mobile. The Directions Web Service will work on any device that can identify a start point and where the user wants to go. The User Interface is up to the developer  and will probably vary from phone to phone because of its controls and screen size. For example a touch screen such as that on the iPhone or Windows Mobile, would have functionality closer to a web page, whereas a phone without a touch screen would have to function differently. That is really just a design issue, not a significant barrier.

If your phone has GPS or the ability to use cell tower triangulation, it will know where it is. But it is also possible (if you know) to tell your mobile where you are and where you want to go This could be an address you want to get directions to, or it could be Points of Interest from our POI Web Service mentioned in Part 2 of this series. Once you know the start and end of your journey, you can use the Directions web service to guide people directly to your desired location.

So now you can have turn by turn directions delivered to your phone. This could be send as an SMS with text directions, it could be an MMS combining text directions with an image of the route map, or an image zoomed in to your destination, or it could be information in your mobiles web or WAP browser, with enanced functionality.

Here’s the thing. If you are at home or in the office, you can use your PC, but it is of no use to you in your car or away from the computer. You may not know where you are going to want to go until you are out on the road. An LBS application with the Directions Web Service can give you the same freedom, without the necessity of interpreting a map, or more commonly the map isn’t there when you need it. Pick up the kids, meet someone for coffee, find your way from the car park to the show. All easy to do with LBS.

Just as a footnote, a few days ago a 62 year old woman set of from Christchurch to her  home on the West Coast of the South Island. She didn’t arrive and her friends and family spent a couple of days searching for her after she crashed her car down a 5 metre embankment. She was eventually found but the story could have been very different. She may not have been found at all, or not until it was too late to save her life, or she could have been found very easily. If she had a mobile with GPS, after she had been reported missing, if the phone was within coverage, it could have been called and located using an LBS service using GeoSmart tools and her searchers could have had turn by turn directions on their mobiles, right to the spot where her car was.

I suspect this sort of application will be available within the next few years, but someone has to create it first. Tracking elderly people is something that is also a major opportunity.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, cartography, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Tools Do You Need to Create a LBS Application Part Two

One of the key things people want in an LBS application is to be able to find Points of Interest (POI) including geographical, community and business POI.

GeoSmart has collected and continues to collect information about all the places that people would like to visit, and unlike other databases, includes a lot of information that has importance but isn’t necessarily business related. For example beaches and bays, public toilets, boat ramps, parks etc.

Our latest service is called the Point of Interest (POI) Web Service V2. We have full time staff focussed not only on collecting quality spatial information about places you might want to find for an LBS Service or Application, but also making sure that it is current. Where relevant we use ANZSIC Codes which are a standard supported by the NZ and Australian Governments.  These offer a layer of categories from high level to more specific, so you can look at food and beverage or Italian Restaurants at either end. We have a browser tool to help you find the correct category here.

Our comprehensive database which is used in various forms and subsets on websites such as AA Maps, Bayleys, Winejobs Online and many other sites has a wide range of POI. These include shops, petrol stations, banks, ATMs, schools and where relevant, make sure you get to the right place at the Point of Interest. For example if you are going to a hospital, you probably want the Accident & Emergency entrance. If you are going to the golf course or a school, you want the official entrance and so on.  Our data, where relevant includes information such as contact details.

The POI Web Service can also be used for geocoding street addresses in order to display them on a map, using our geotagged web map tiles, which can be used on a mobile or normal PC browser. We have a comprehensive database of New Zealand street addresses, which you can try out on the AA Maps website, using our autocompleter.

The range of parameters are wide and varied and you can find more information in the Developer Page.

A key commonality in successful LBS applications overseas is the ability to find the service you are looking for nearby. For example, you are in the city and want to find a nearby cafe for some lunch. The POI web service would let you specify how close you want to find one and even give them to you in order starting with the closest to you. Our POI database is also used in products such as TomTom and Navman car navigation devices.

Because the database is very comprehensive and constantly growing and being validated, you can pretty much develop your application and populate it with our data and be up and running in no time.

Another service that we offer in conjunction with the NZ Automobile Association is the AA Maps Bizlocator. This is a free service which allows any New Zealand business to register their location with us and at the same time get a free web map to put on their website to show people where their office, shop or other business location is, assign it to ANZSIC Categories and then be available for addition to our POI database, all for free. The only condition is you have to go online at least once a year to confirm that your data is current. Once the map is up, you can even get and print turn by turn driving directions from anywhere in NZ and print them neatly on A4 paper. All for free. For more information on that please go to this page, where you can set up an account and ‘Add Your Business’.

bizlocator

This is part two of a series of blogs on tools for LBS applications. Please feel free to comment or leave questions on this blog.

Why not add this blog to your RSS Feed:)

April 2, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, cartography, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, social networking, tomtom, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

GeoSmart adds new features to AA Maps

Are you deciding where to go on your summer holiday around New Zealand, or perhaps looking for a weekend adventure? Before you head out on your Kiwi Road Trip, have a look at what GeoSmart has added to the AA Maps web site.

There are many new and improved features. You can now create your complete itinerary and then change the order of the stops and even check the real time traffic conditions before you leave!

Let’s say you were going to take the kids to Rotorua. You had decided on the Luge, the Agrodome for a ride in the Zoorb, a jetboat ride and the other cool activities they have there, and Rainbow Springs to feed the trout. You set your itinerary on AA Maps and then decided to change the order so that you could finish the day with a meal at the top of the gondola ride and enjoy the views with a nice sunset. Now you can drag and drop the destinations, automatically generating new driving directions from A to B to C to take with you in the car, even showing the travel distance and driving time from one to the next.

You can find your accomodation from AA Maps and when you select it you can look for other amenities such as restaurants within 5km of the property. In this instance my search found 10 within 400 metres of the Millenium Hotel.

You can now set up a free account on the page and store your ‘Favourites’ so that you can find them again later and you can even leave a ‘rating’ once you have been there so that other people can appreciate the great experiences you enjoyed.

Many Kiwi’s feel they know their way around New Zealand and don’t need mapping websites. All good and well, but they don’t know there was a major accident which has blocked the Auckland Harbour Bridge or a slip which has closed the Milford Sound Rd. Now we have included AA Real Time Traffic as well as Traffic Web Cams. There are certain holiday spots that often have traffic jams at peak times such as Long Weekends or the start and end of major holiday periods. In winter there may be ice and snow, or slips that can close lanes or sometimes entire roads. Yu will be able to find this information on the AA Maps web site, where you can select from Minor Accidents, Major Accidents and Traffic Webcams where you can see the traffic flows, refreshed every minute.

If you live and drive in New Zealand, you are probably a member of the NZAA which has many great services to offer you. As a member, these are your services and another important feature is the Feedback button which allows you to tell us whatever you want to, whether it is suggestions for new features, a Point of Interest we didn’t know about, perhaps a restaurant that has changed ownership and has a new name. This is a never ending project as new technology continues to allow us to add new services and features.

If you would like a map on your own website, AA Maps will give you an idea of some of the features GeoSmart can offer you, but wait, there’s more. Many of the services we offer are not relevant to the AA Maps website. Of course there is also the AA Maps Bizlocator, which not only gives you a free map and directions from your company web page, but also lists it with car navigation brands so people in their cars can find their way to you. . We have lots of other services, so if it’s to do with location and you have a need, please feel free to ask us any time.

For more information about GeoSmart, please go to our Home Page. For AA Maps, click here.

This blog is offered as an interactive comunication, so please feel free to comment or make suggestions here as well. We welcome your feedback.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, driving, driving directions, gps, maps, navman, new zealand, optmisation, real time traffic, route optimisation, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Best Car Navigation Directions

Every now and then I hear a story about someone who feels that their car navigation device is not giving them an appropriate route and telling them to turn the car around at the earliest convenience.

These days most car navigation devices are so intuitive that nobody reads the manuals. They charge the device up, stick it on the windscreen and get driving. In fact that is pretty much what brands like TomTom encourage you to do. They do also encourage you to go to TomTom Home via your PC and the Internet to download the latest map as well as the current configuration of the satellites so that you get a quick connection in the car. But this is not what I am writing about.

If you buy a new car navigation device using our maps (and given that we have 93% marketshare in the industry, in most cases it is our maps) you can pretty much rely on them being accurate.

There are 2 main reasons why people don’t always get the result they expected.

First of all you can program the way your navigation device gives you directions. Depending on the brand and model, you actually have the ability to influence the way the device works. For example:

  • By default your GPS unit is programmed to navigate via the ‘Fastest Route’. The way that works is that it will have a preference for the higher road classes, i.e. main roads, motorways, expressways and so on. The first reason for that is that major roads are designed for faster throughput. Often the speed limit is higher so you can drive faster. That means that if you can get to your destination by parallel roads such as Great South Rd in Auckland and Manukau and the Southern Motorway, the Southern Motorway will usually be much faster.
  • You can program your car navigation device to drive by the ‘Shortest Route.’ Now it will compute your route solely on driving distance. In some areas this may be quicker, for example many rural roads in the Waikato are long straight roads and in many cases have very little traffic. This could make the journey faster, but this is local knowledge. In urban areas taking the shortest route may well mean getting stuck at compulsory ‘Stop’ or ‘Give Way’ signs at the major roads while the traffic using the ‘Fastest Route’ zips past in front of you while you are waiting.
  • Some devices, such as some of the Navman models allow you to use a ‘slider’ function which allows you to weight the routing style to a balance that you like. This is complex and unless you know what you are doing, I would stick with ‘Fastest’ and only change to ‘Shortest’ where you are pretty certain it will get you there on time.
  • Another factor is local knowledge. When you commute or go to certain places regularly, you will have learned about the odd bottleneck which doesn’t conform to the general rules. The GPS unit is a computer and designed to work within a set framework and a local bottleneck does not come into the equation, yet. So the best scenario is to use a combination of your local knowledge and the instructions from your nav unit.
  • Some devices have a lot more functionality. For example they might let you avoid main roads or motorways, avoid toll roads or gravel roads and so on. If you spend a lot of time driving to unfamiliar places, it really is worth having a look through all the menu options to see what you can do.
  • There are many other levels of information in your device including a large file of Points of Interest. These include everything from your favourite brand of petrol, ATM, accomodation or food, as well as public toilets, boat ramps and pretty much everything you could wish to drive to including emergancy locations such as hospitals, accident & emergancy. You can look for these closest to the car or near your destination.

In summary, what you have is a highly sophisticated computer and like most computer programs, most people only use a small percentage of its functionality. I recommend that you start using it on ‘Fastest Routing’ until you are familiar with how it works. Try ‘shortest’ when you are not in a hurry, or when you are travelling short distances. Then either read the manual or go through the set up screens and check out all the other great functionality your device has to offer. You will be pleased that you did.

September 22, 2008 Posted by | car navigation, driving, driving directions, gps, maps, navman, new zealand, satnav, tomtom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment