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Great Value with Air New Zealand Taxis

I recently took a 3 week trip to the US and was reviewing whether to look for a low cost car park facility at the airport and have the hassle of leaving early to go to the park facility and then on my return having to call them to pick me up in a van, wait for it to arrive etc, you know the story, all the stuff you don’t need when you are tired after close to 24 hours of travel.

I decided to try the Air New Zealand Taxi service, which is one of our clients. They use our routing engine to determine the fastest route in time and distance and then allow you to select from 5 different transport options, from a shuttle to an executive car. They guarantee the fare, which you pay up front and even give you airpoints.

One of the things you often worry about with taxis is whether they will arrive on time and of course being an Air NZ service, they not only link your service to your flights,  but they they guarantee that if your transport hasn’t arrived within 15 minutes of the booked time they will provide you with a replacement vehicle AND a full refund. That’s confidence in their own service!

I booked them for the return trip as well and this gave me extra confidence when my flight from Denver to Los Angeles broke down, that Air New Zealand Taxis would know if I ended up having to catch a later flight having missed the one I was scheduled for. It was also nice arriving back home in Auckland and seeing a driver waiting there with my name on a sign.

I’ll be using this service again and am happy to recommend it both because they are a valued client, but more importantly because it is a great service. You know what you are getting, you know the cost up front and they deliver on their promise. On top of that, of course you are supporting New Zealand businesses and saving time and money.

Btw, the site was developed by our friends at Bocapa.

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August 3, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, driving directions, geosmart, location based services, map tools, new zealand, new zealand maps | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes Size Matters

TomTom Via 620

TomTom have just launched a new 6″ car navigation unit packed with features and a big, high-resolution display that will become a must for truck drivers, people with big hands, or whose eyesight means that a the new big clear display will allow them to relax a bit more when they are driving.

It also comes with 12 quarterly GeoSmart map updates and a free map of Australia. Find out more about it on our Facebook page.

TomTom also came up with some interesting research that whilst most Kiwi’s dream of having a tropical island holiday, nearly half of Kiwis (48%) prefer to have their holiday in New Zealand, followed by Australia (21%). The Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Auckland being the hotspot destinations.

Here come the surprises from TomTom Public Relations Manager Asia-Pacific, Valerie Cross from an international survey:

  • New Zealander’s appear to be the least nature-loving holiday-makers in the world with the smallest amount (14%) of respondents saying they go on holiday to commune with nature.
  • A Kiwi’s favourite part of the holiday appears to be shopping with 66% of respondents keen to browse the shops, over options like visiting beaches (58%) and restaurants (54%).
  • New Zealanders are also some of the easily frustrated when they get lost (22%), nearly twice the global average (13%) and only a close second to our Aussie neighbours (24%).

Ms Cross knocked the hammer squarely on the head, (especially for the Kiwi male) noting “It’s a real Kiwi trait not to ask for help when travelling by car.

Of course our GeoSmart maps road data and Points of Interest are continually being updated with everything from beaches and bays, parking and rest areas, public toilets and ATM’s through to every kind of shop, attraction, place to stay and much more. Your nav really is your travel partner, calmly guiding you to your destination so that you can relax and enjoy your stress free trip.

 

July 4, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, new zealand maps, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lots of Requests for Accurate New Zealand Geocoding

We have been getting a lot of companies come to us for geocoding services lately. What is geocoding? Essentially it is generating accurate coordinates for a location or street address.

This can be really important if the locations are used in a GPS based device and especially where routing or directions are involved. For example it is often not practical for vehicles to zigzag from one side of the road to another. It may be impossible because of median barriers, difficult because of heavy traffic, or the vehicle could be one that must stay on one side of the road, for example a rubbish truck. Another classic situation would be where the address is given as Corner of X and Y Streets. That could be any one of four or more corners, which could have significant implications on routing and another time waster for people on the road.

GeoSmart has driven most roads to sub half a meter accuracy which means that when we provide coordinates they will be on the correct side of the road. We have seen frequent examples of map providers who use source maps which are not spatially accurate, which can often result in the road being displaced to the point that both odd and even numbers are shown as being on the wrong side of the road.

We have a number of services on offer. We have API’s which allow an application to look up addresses using an auto-completer. This is particularly good for accounting software, CRM and other applications, allowing companies to get the full information correct first time, right into the application. We never cease to be amazed at how bad some companies record keeping of addresses is for their clients. This may not be a problem when the same person calls on them for years, but when change happens, it can become a major time waster, especially in a country with so many duplicate place names. Go to http://www.aamaps.co.nz and see how many instances of Queen Street there are just in Auckland City!

We have a geocode web service and also a Software as a Service (SaaS) application which allows you to upload a CSV file of addresses. It will resolve them including looking at incorrect spelling, vanity (e.g. where someone says Remuera, but technically they are in Newmarket) or incorrect suburbs and much more. The results include Post Code ane even Census data such as Mesh Block and the ability to export to GIS in MapInfo format.Results are ranked based on the result, for example if you look for 21A X Street and we don’t have 21A, but we do have 21 X Street, it will show as a sub 100% result and an explanation that we believe that result is correct. The same if a name is misspelled or perhaps it was entered as 21 X Street when it should have been 21 X Avenue.

The application also allows you to modify the location by moving an icon on the map yourself. For example a property may have multiple entrances, or the location may not even be on a street. It could be a building in a park, or a location within a large complex such as a hospital, university or shopping mall. We offer the flexibility of doing it yourself and being able to interpret it yourself according to your needs, without requiring GIS software or skills.

Having driven pretty much every road in New Zealand with our mapping car in most cases to sub 1 meter accuracy, we are able to offer a degree of quality not available anywhere else.

In addition to a very attractive pricing model, we are a local company in your time zone, we have developers that you can talk to and are very passionate about all things location.

To top it off, we are a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Automobile Association which is of course committed to New Zealand motorists and all revenues are retained in New Zealand.

Want to know more. Why not contact us and be pleasantly surprised about how easy it is to use and of course affordable.

P.S. We can offer the same services for Australia.

June 27, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, driving directions, Geocoding, geosmart, GIS, gps, map tools, Mapping Applications, new zealand maps, systems integrator, Web Map | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Are You? Mobile Apps For Finding Family and People at Risk

For a long time we have been encouraging our business partners to look at developing applications and devices to track elderly people, people with memory impaired conditions such as dementia, blind, autistic and others. There have been many challenges in this area because these devices are often a little on the bulky side and need daily charging due to the power constraints of batteries used for communications and GPS. Designing devices that are appealing such as bracelets, necklaces that people are prepared to wear has been a challenge. That development goes on and we hope that in the next year or so, we will see some success and demand from the market.

There is of course another huge market segment where mobiles are used. We are starting to see a number of applications like Pingbot, which we mentioned on our Facebook Page. This uses location based services including GPS to identify the location of a person’s mobile, with their permission of course. Effectively with Pingbot, the owner of the mobile has a secret word, effectively like a password that the user can share with those trusted people who may need to be able to find them. Obvious users would be children (most teenage children would not go anywhere without a mobile today), people with some form of disability, injury or medical risk, such as allergies or requiring medication, they may have forgotten to take with them. It could also be a social, sport or other reason for people to be able to find each other, such as a buddy finder environment. The idea of Pingbot is that all you need to do is send an SMS message with the secret word in order to find the location of that person.

GeoSmart has the web services and API’s to help developers create these types of solution in New Zealand and Australia. This includes highly accurate mapping, accurate turn by turn directions via the fastest route and services such as Reverse GeoCoding, which allows you to send a set of coordinates to our servers, which will return the nearest street address to that location.

These sorts of applications were difficult to market in the past because most people didn’t have mobiles with GPS. Today is a different story. It’s almost difficult to find a mobile in a retail store today that does not have GPS. We’d like to hear from developers who would like to help find that child that didn’t get home, the diabetic who went out without their insulin, or the blind person who has become disoriented. We offer a Developer Agreement for free and are local, in your time zone, with real people you can talk to about your application development.

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, geosmart, gps, location based services, Mapping Applications, new zealand maps, Reverse Geocoding, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harnessing Your Business Data with a Map

There was a very good article on from eMarketer this month about the difficulties for online retailers in accessing, sharing and analysing information about their business. This is something we have found relates to all business, not just online. Business is all about numbers and understanding what your customers want and when. It doesn’t matter if you are a bricks and mortar retailer like the very successful Briscoes, a supermarket chain selling high volume for low margin or a company with a field sales or service workforce. Success comes down to being able to access quality information.

In retail the key information tends to be about stockturn, aged stock, shelf space, gross profit by product and category and so on. Retailers and department heads will have standard exception reports that arrive on their desks, daily, weekly and monthly and they will make their buying and promotional decisions based on these reports.

As per the table, research shows that often data is used for the key purposes of business as usual, but often it is only available to a few people and there is very little use made of information about who the customers are, where they come from, the context in which they do their shopping and much more.

GeoSmart’s BIonaMAP is a tool that can allow companies to visualise more information in a way that allows them to look strategically at location based information about their business. It might be a retail chain deciding where to place their next store, a loyalty program that wants to understand their customer demographics or a sales or divisional manager wanting to create fair and manageable sales territories.

By combining information from the Point of Sale system or the financials with a map, it becomes possible to cut through the clutter and see the big picture. BIonaMAP is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. What that effectively means is that all you need in order to use it is a web browser and an Internet connection. You don’t need to install any software.

Now you can share information with whoever needs it, management,sales and marketing, business partners and suppliers. It might be about where your customers live or work, which ones use one of your products but not another. It might be customers within a certain distance from a store or using demographics to decide where best to place your next store. The potential is limited by your imagination and currently to within Australia and New Zealand. Effectively anything that has a location element to it and where data can be exported as a CSV file from your financials, CRM or other application can be interrogated within BIonaMAP.

Do you suffer from death by spreadsheet or wish you could see the big picture, large corporate, franchise or SME, we would like to talk to you about how to harness your business data and increase your productivity and profit.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, geosmart, GIS, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, sales territory, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose territory does a new prospect belong to?

Does this sound familiar to you? We talk to companies all the time who have problems with who to allocate a new customer or prospect to when they ring the sales or franchise company or call centre. Sales territories have always been a bit of a problem to deal with, but this will no longer be a problem for people who use GeoSmart’s new BIonaMAP business intelligence SaaS (Software as a Service) application.

Old school BAU (Business As Usual) is still the way most sales and service companies work. They pin a map on the wall, draw the territory on it with a sharpie pen and write the name on the map. There are always arguments over whether a territory includes both sides of the road, where the suburb boundaries are and don’t even start about what happens when you want to modify a territory.

Queen Street

If the call centre or people taking the calls don’t have access to the map when new customers ring, there can be major time wasting and potential for problems ensuring that the right person is dealing with the client quickly and professionally in order to secure new business. There are also issues over making sure the address is correct. There are a dozen Queen Streets in Auckland and we have heard plenty of stories about people driving up and down a road in the wrong suburb looking for a client they are meant to be meeting with. Then there are vanity suburbs like the person on Remuera Road who say they are in Remuera, but they are actually in Newmarket and knowing which numbers of the street belong in which territory. It is a problem that has been around for years.

This problem goes away with BIonaMAP and there are a number of ways that we can deal with it. Some companies are simply going to use a query on the BIonaMAP home page which effectively allows you to start entering the address, with an autocompleter allowing you to select from a drop down menu to get the right one. Some companies are going to integrate this function right into their accounting software, CRM or other business database application, which means that the full correct address with Post Code and correct suburb as well as the coordinates are recorded into the right fields.

What makes this different? Database applications on their own can deal with suburbs or post codes, but typically can not deal with spatial queries, i.e. in what territory or polygon does this belong to? The answer effectively will be one of the following:

  • It belongs in Territory X.
  • It appears in Territory X and overlapping Territory Y (e.g. a sales and a service territory)
  • It doesn’t appear in any territory

If this is an issue that you have to grapple with in your business, why not contact us and ask us how BIonaMAP can help you?

BIonaMAP is available for New Zealand and Australia and has a host of location based business analytics capability. It is Software as a Service which means no software installation and it can be accessed by using a web browser. We also welcome inquiries from sales, service, franchise and other business consultants, resellers and systems integrators.

May 1, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, systems integrator, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Location Based Business Intelligence to Middle Management

In the traditional corporate environment location based information about your business tends to come from the IT or GIS department. This tends to result in traditional reports based on historic requirements. They tend to be standard reports that you receive in the same way as you receive your financial reports. In New Zealand only large corporates even have access to GIS data. BAU (Business As Usual) means results as usual at best, but if someone else is working smarter, that means that they are likely to be taking business off yours.

Our BIonaMAP application changes that. There is no installation required and it is now simple for a Sales Manager, Service Manager, Product Manager, Marketing Manager and others to have access to what is going on in their business in ways they haven’t been able to before.

One of the most basic areas I have found in previous lives as a Sales Manager and as a Franchisor has been creating fair territories on a map. This traditionally involved buying a map, using a sharpie pen to create a territory and covering it in different colours of map pins. Of course as soon as you created a territory and needed to change it, it was start again and of course now your office wall is covered in holes. Now it is as simple as clicking with your mouse and your new territory has been created. Zoom in on the map to tidy it up so that you can split streets up to left and right if necessary and now you can start viewing what is going on in your business.

Understanding what is happening in a territory

Any information you have about your customers in a CRM, accounting software that you can export can now be viewed on the map and you can run queries about that data and view the results straight away on the map. Examples might be profitable customers, customers who haven’t bought anything in the last month, customers who buy one product but not another, prospects who use a competitors product. You can count results and compare territories with each other with ease. Why is one territory better than another?

I wish I had browser based software like this in the past, it is just so powerful and easy. What information would you like to unlock from your business? Find out more at www.bionamap.co.nz

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, GIS, new zealand maps, Sales, sales territory, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maps Are Not All Equal

There are reasons why smart car navigation companies use GeoSmart data on their devices. The reasons are that often near enough is not good enough. This week we have seen a good example of this, which was followed up in the news media.

On Wednesday the Otago Daily Times published a story with the headline GPS systems send Peninsula tourists off track. It quoted a Senior Constable who said that tourists were being guided onto paper roads and dirt tracks by car navigation systems and certainly into areas not suitable for most vehicles.

An example given was that people were trying to drive all the way to the seal colony shown on the map here, via Cape Saunders Rd. As you can see on our map, that isn’t possible, but there appears to be a paper road on some car nav products (obviously not using GeoSmart Maps) that say you can.

Because we are the premier supplier of quality car navigation map data for New Zealand, the obvious query came to GeoSmart for some clarification on this. We are the market leader in car navigation in New Zealand because of the quality of data. We have quality data because we are local and because we have invested heavily for over 12 years in having quality data for car navigation. We have a map room full of people who are committed to having up to date information on our maps including eliminating paper roads, maintaining speed zones, current information on Points of Interest, turn restrictions such as 1-way streets, no left turns, median barriers and also what we know as implicit turn restrictions, which is where a large vehicle may not be able to safely complete a turn even if it is legal to do so. As a consequence, brands like TomTom and Navman use our information in order to ensure that their valued users do get quality instructions.

I received a call from the journalist who wrote a follow up story for the NZ Herald with the headline Don’t just go where the GPS says – if it looks like a paddock it probably is one. I explained that when we first decided to become a car navigation map provider, partnering with brands such as Navman, Siemens VDO and BMW, we processed the Government data (which was never designed for guidance) and found that it was not suitable for car navigation. There were huge numbers of paper roads (roads that have been drafted but not (yet) constructed and situations where entire settlements were 60-80 or more metres away from where the maps said they were.

We then set out to drive every public road in New Zealand, getting accurate data with the technology of the day, eliminating the paper roads and at the same time getting key information such as speed zones, road class, points of interest including things like rest areas, ATM’s, public toilets as well as business, tourism and travel, hospitality, sport etc. Today we continue to drive, capturing a road centreline at sub 1 meter accuracy as well as information such as the incline of the road for eco-routing and the angle of the camber on corners for future truck safety systems and of course real time traffic which can be found online at AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and AA Journey Times and is of course used by TomTom and Navman.

A key issue that we have identified in recent times is that a lot of car navigation users don’t realise that they need to update their maps regularly. In New Zealand roads are changing continually. They are road realignments, new motorways, new subdivisions, suburbs and settlements being built all the time. Roundabouts get replaced with traffic lights and traffic lights get replaced with roundabouts and it never ends. GeoSmart does a new update each and every quarter, 4 times a year and they are all significant updates. Just because you have a navigation unit that is only 6 months old, doesn’t mean that it has the latest data. Even if you have just bought a unit brand new, it is worth plugging it in to your computer to see if there is a new map available.

The acid test is www.aamaps.co.nz. This also gets updated every 3 months. If a road or segment is on AA Maps, then it is in our data and will either be in the latest car nav map for the brands that use our data, or is about to be. If it isn’t on AA Maps, then we are probably adding it, but we would love to hear from you just in case. All you need to do is click on the feedback button on the AA Maps web page, select the type of feedback you want to give us and the information will go to the appropriate team member. We are Kiwis, we live here and we take pride in the quality of our data and want you to enjoy your motoring.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, navman, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Trust Car Navigation?

This is a subject that comes up frequently in discussions and one that we all wonder about from time to time. We have been in the car navigation business since it started in New Zealand, first working with Navman and then over the years supporting and providing map data to most (not all) brands, where data accuracy is key. I won’t belabour the point that GeoSmart is the only country that continually drives all of New Zealand in our RapidcV mapping car.

If you follow the link above you will see the car not only has many sensors on it, but it also has a pile of cameras. The link explains more about the data the car collects.

In Auckland we have a lab full of specialists in a variety of areas including database, cartography, applications development and more. They source data from a wide range of sources including of course the car, data from central and local government agencies, road transport companies, AA members and the public. They collect, validate and manage data all year round and prepare it for quarterly updates, compile it into various formats for different clients and then our database team uses a variety of Quality Assurance tests for up to a month to try to break the data, in effect to make sure it is as near as possible to bulletproof. Then every quarter we ship the updates to several car navigation companies including of course Navman and TomTom.

The data doesn’t just include exactly where the road is, but also changes to speed zones (to around 10 metres accuracy), roundabouts, traffic lights,road realignments, subdivision updates and much more. Some examples in recent updates include things like the Victoria Park changes including the soutbound viaduct and the northbound tunnel, the Newmarket Switch. It includes lane data and a huge range of Points of Interest from dump sites for campervans and public rest areas through to a wide range of business and recreational locations.

So back to the first question. Can you trust car navigation?

The first answer is whilst our data is 100% driven, validated and mapped, map data is constantly changing and we can’t guarantee the exact completeness at any point in time. We provide an update every 3 months and one of the things you need to consider is how up to date your map data is. If your car nav application uses GeoSmart map data, then they have the latest data and most of them offer free map update deals when you buy a new unit and also ongoing subscriptions to keep your map data current. This is very important.

The image here shows the changes to the Victoria Park Viaduct. If you have old maps, there is every possibility that if you are heading south, your navigation will give you misleading directions based on the old road configuration. For example if you have old maps in your car navigation and are heading to SH16 from the Harbour Bridge, you could be told to keep right then keep left. This should see you on the right hand viaduct which does not provide access to State Highway 16. Now you will have a detour to make, trying to work out how to get back on route. This raises one very important point, you must use your navigation as an aid, in conjunction with what you see outside, while you are driving. If your instructions don’t make perfect sense then don’t follow them. We hear stories of people being told to turn into a canal in Berlin, or wedging their trucks between ancient buildings in Britain. Some common sense would have avoided those incidents.

Assuming you have GeoSmart Maps in your car navigation system and use common sense, then the answer is, yes you can trust your car navigation system. I have been driving with car nav for over 7 years now and I continue to be surprised that there are times when I think the navigation instructions are wrong, (I believe I also ave a very good sense of direction) and the nav found better ways for me to get from A to B even in areas I know pretty well.

Another major factor to consider with car navigation is real time traffic and a number of brands now offer this as a feature. Following is a link to a TV3 experiment where 3 journalists drove from West Auckland to the TV studio. One used TomTom car navigation with HD Traffic (using AA Traffic by GeoSmart), one took the route the locals took and the other followed Google Maps directions. Watch this link to see what happened. I think it proves the point that you can trust quality car navigation devices that have the best current map data.

We welcome your feedback.

March 5, 2012 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, navman, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ageing of the workforce in freight and distribution

Baby boomers are a major part of our workforce today and play a very important part in the freight and distribution industry. I’m told that the average age of a truck driver in New Zealand today is 49. This presents positives and negatives.

The maturity and experience of these drivers makes them very valuable. They know the road, they know their vehicles and routes and get the job done. They are largely professional drivers, many of whom own their own vehicles. Many were able to do that by borrowing against their homes and the average freight company as we have discussed in previous blogs is 0-5 trucks.These operators tend to be very good at their job, but not well versed when it comes to technology. Applications to help them improve efficiencies in their work need to be very user friendly. That is something that GeoSmart puts a lot of energy to.

The flip side is that not a lot of people are rushing to become truck drivers. Many companies don’t really want them until they reach around 24-25 and have burnt out the lead foot testosterone which could be a disaster in a big half a million dollar rig. By that time, a lot of the working stock that might have gone into truck driving have chosen other career paths, or have moved to other shores such as the mines in Australia where they can earn 3 times what they can get paid in New Zealand. We can hope that they will come back to New Zealand with those savings and experience and use them to invest in their driving career back here. These people are of course extremely tech savvy and will expect to have access to applications and services such as Real Time Traffic, Route Optimisation, Car Navigation, Fleet Management and Business Intelligence.

Car navigation with real time traffic

Keeping these ageing drivers healthy and productive is a sustainability policy in itself. Providing them with tools starting with car navigation with real time traffic is a good start. It’s easy to use and whist these people may know the roads like the backs of their hands, they don’t know that there is an accident or traffic congestion that is going to stop them from getting where they are going. They also don’t necessarily know alternate routes they could be using or what the traffic conditions are there. It could be driving out of the frying pan into the fire. A device that tells them there is a 35 minute delay on their current route, but an alternate route will only have a 10 minute delay could be gold for these people. If you are looking at one of these, make sure it provides coverage for the are they are driving in and has the very latest map data as there have been many changes in New Zealand roads over the last year. GeoSmart produces new map updates every 3 months.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, territory management, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment