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How we are helping the future greening of New Zealand

A couple of statements by David J. LePoire drawn from his essay “Beyond (Conventional) Renewable Energy?” caught my eye this morning. He said that “If energy use had grown as fast as the economy, the United States would be using an estimated 60% more energy than it does now. We’ve improved energy use in buildings, electrical appliances, cars and industrial processes. These applications are often motivated by cost savings.” There are often stories about how companies who focus on sustainability in a concerted way will become more profitable as a result, but often there is little information on where the increased profitability will come from.

There has been a lot of discussion about how green New Zealand really is and which initiatives are going to help us go forward in the way I believe most Kiwis want toThe elections are close and the parties are all telling us what their policies are going to be.

Meanwhile there are many companies who are just working business as usual with an eye to a better future. GeoSmart is one of those companies. So what are we doing?

First, we have driven every road in New Zealand for many years, but in the last few years we have been driving with phenomenal technology put together in New Zealand by Kiwis, which allows us to map New Zealand roads to sub 1 metre accuracy even when there is GPS shadow or at times (not uncommon particularly in the South Island) where there is no GPS sugnal available at all for periods of time. Tests show that we tend to be accurate to around 15cm which is as good as I believe you can get without having surveyors and laser theodolites on the ground.

This in itself means that we are able to provide highly accurate data to users of our routing web services, such as AA Maps and mobile applications such as Rugby2GO. It means that people will not be sent up paper roads that don’t exist, confirms speed zones and intersection controls and other information that doesn’t always get provided to us by the authorities.

Quality routing means that people can get the best routing information to meet their needs. For example the shortest route is often not the fastest.

We also collect road inclinometer. That is the rate of incline on hills, of which we of course have many in New Zealand. Our car navigation clients are getting more involved in eco-routing which means you can choose the route which will consume the least fuel. That means that effectively, irrespective of what type of car you drive, you can save money while also helping to save our environment.

We are also collecting data about the camber or angle of the corners. Because of the volatile nature of our country with frequent earthquakes, floods and slips, geothermal activity, the condition of corners may change. When a corner changes and noone knows about it, this can be the cause of serious accidents, such as with large trucks and trailors who may be obeying the speed advisory signs, but the conditions have changed since they were set. We are working with sophisticated Fleet Management companies who are going to use this data, combined with their knowledge of their clients’ vehicle set ups, roll over specifications and load information to alert drivers that they may be going too fast for the conditions of the road. This can save insurance conmpanies millions of dollars, not to mention reducing the inconvenience of motorists having to deal with travel delays as the incidents are examined and detours put in place.

Another major area for us is real time traffic. You are probably aware that we built and maintain the AA Roadwatch website and and provide services including real time accident, incident and congestion data throughout New Zealand and Australia to major car navigation brands. AA Spokesperson Simon Lambourne was quoted in an article in the NZ Herald earlier this week that studies have shown that “when 10 per cent of drivers use real-time traffic information to avoid jams, journey times drop 5 per cent for everyone.” Find out more about AA Traffic by GeoSmart here.

Route optimisation is becoming more important. We have written a number of blogs on this topic and more and more companies are coming to us to use this service and variations of it. Essentially  if a person has a number of sites to stop at during a day’s work, our SaaS application Route2GO Lite geocodes and calculates the best order to make those visits in, to drive the least amount of time via the most efficient route. This results in increased productivity and reduced overheads. It is also sustainable. Are you able to tell your clients that your business uses technology to benefit the environment as well as the company’s bottom line and provide better service to boot?

Talk to us about how we can help you become more sustainable whilst increasing profit.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Australia, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, driving directions, geosmart, gps, Mapping Applications, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, SaaS, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Socialisation – Loyalty Cards and Gamification

Ultimately if you want people to use your loyalty card, visit and spend lots of money enjoying your service, products and services, wouldn’t you rather they bring their friends and family, or encourage them to come and join them. There are gender differences here of course. Shopping for women is often a social activity, something to be enjoyed with friends and is an outing in itself. For guys that might be the case for specific things like food and beverage, electronics and sporting gear (I am generalising and there are of course exceptions:) but in general terms a fun group outing is more likely to be going to a bar, a sporting match etc. Of course hospitality, entertainment, attractions etc are all most enjoyed if done with friends.

Foursquare in its points structure will give you more points if you log into a location at the same time as your buddies. Tap City uses Foursquare Points of Interest and has a game element where you can take ownership of a location by attacking it and getting your buddies to join you in the attack, turning it into a real game, but one that requires that you do check in to places to complete certain activities.

FREE App Rugby2GO for Android and iPhone

Loyalty programs for single venues or large programs with many venues are all there to generate business for your destination premises. This opens up great opportunities for incentives. In many cases points and recognition are enough, but why not encourage people to not only participate but also to get their friends to sign up. For example, lets say we had a loyalty card for restaurants and entertainment. You could have a deal where if you bring a friend to a cafe, you get 2 points, or maybe a free muffin, but if your friend becomes a member of the loyalty program and joins you there, you get more. Its Rugby time in New Zealand with loads of tourists going to Fanzones and enjoying the restaurants, bars, concerts and shows that go with the World Cup. A lot of people have Smartphones and are enjoying FREE iPhone and Android applications like Rugby2GO which has all the Real New Zealand Festival locations on it complete with directions from wherever you happen to be.

These apps are great and are a perfect stepping point to creating social engagement. If they allow you to upload all of your friends from your various social networks in the way applications like Foursquare, Instagram, Layar, and countless others do, then you are already crowdsourcing for free. All you need to do now as an application host is encourage them not only to get their friends to your location using the gamification we have talked about in our other recent blogs, and then also get them to invite them to install the app and join, perhaps using a promo code that recognises that your friends have joined them and identified them as friends, which also of course helps with your profiling.

South Africa v Namibia

Profiling people into groups with similar interests is of course something that Google has introduced with its Google+ circles and we are starting to see this in applications. So if you own a bar or number of bars, are showing the Rugby on your big screens, wouldn’t you like to be able to encourage your loyalty program members to not only invite their friends, but have them sign up to the program, reward them for doing so, then give them a great time so they want to come back, with their friends. This is known as crowd sourcing and also plays a part in viral marketing.

As a footnote on viral marketing, a reminder that you do not do viral marketing, your customers, friends and program members do that. All you can do is facilitate it. Create an environment they want to be at and share and they will do it for you. Of course you have to deliver on your promise and make sure they really do enjoy themselves. There is so much more you can do once you get started and of course we are full of great ideas and desire to help you make it work for your loyalty program. Why not Contact Us and have a chat about it?

October 5, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Android, foursquare, geosmart, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mobile maps, proximity based marketing, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Adding Game Mechanics and Location To Loyalty Cards

Following on from my last blog Adding Location to Loyalty Cards, an area that I feel is really important is game mechanics. One of the problems with loyalty cards is that they are inherently boring and there are lots of them. We live in a world of constant distraction and we want instant gratification. However that gratification doesn’t have to be a free air ticket or turbo food processor with Ginzu knives. It can be as simple as points or recognition and applications today need to evolve as the public become more tech savvy on their mobiles.

What is game mechanics and how is it relevant? Playing games is part of who we human animals are. Games are a natural part of entertainment and education, whether it is a child doing its first jigsaw puzzle, or the All Blacks heading into a rugby match at that international world competition for a cup. Yes, ultimately no matter how passionate we are about success, Graham Henry and the NZRFU themselves said “It’s just a game.”

Games are immensely popular and computer and mobile  offers massive revenue potential. Gartner predicts that the global video game industry on its own will generate revenues of over US$112 billion by 2015. That doesn’t even take into consideration mobile. Application developers have been all over Facebook, now on Google+ and on devices such as iPhone, iPad and Android and now developers of smart location based games and marketing applications are heading the same way.

Developers are looking to use our interest and passion for playing games to influence the behaviour of consumers and it is working. One obvious area is in the retail, travel, tourism, attraction, hospitality and entertainment industries. Of course as I have outlined in many recent blogs, loyalty is a key aspect that all of these industries are looking for, or in other words, profitable repeat business.

So what aspects should a loyalty application include. A major one is achievements. I’ve talked about reward and that rewards don’t have to be tangible items. A reward can be points such as the points used by Foursquare when you check into a location. They also have badges and mayorships which are either the reward itself or their may be special deals or offers made to those people who come in regularly. The new Tap City game allows you to earn virtual dollars for checking in. One of the great things about group loyalty operations is the ability to cross market, for example using a passport concept where the more locations you check in to, the more rewards you get.

The appointment dynamic is extremely powerful. This is where you want people to do something at either a predetermined time or an ad hoc time. For example a restaurant that is always quiet between 3PM and 5PM on a particular day of the week might offer incentives within the application to get more business at that time of day. The concept I like the most, is pushing deals when you have inventory you want to use in a hurry. An example might be the special of the day in a restaurant where you haven’t sold as much as you catered for. The classic story I often use of a jet boat that is going out in 20 minutes with 5 empty seats. This is a perfect opportunity to push a deal to people who are close by and have opted in to be offered deals. The cost differential between having 4 or 9 passengers is negligible but the fun and entertainment factor of 9 people screaming as the boat does a 360 degree spin is significantly greater for all, including the 4 who paid full price. There is also a potential dynamic of more people seeing them having fun and therefore wanting to have a go themselves. The same could apply to any attraction, like the luges in Auckland and Queenstown.

Queenstown Luge

I can come up with a hundred concepts for different types of locations for cafe’s, restaurants, attractions, theatres, travel, accommodation, entertainment, retail, sport, tourism and so can you.

I will continue this blog next week with more thoughts on game mechanics or gamification that you might like to consider in your location based application. Remember, GeoSmart has all the data and tools you ned to make these ideas possible and whilst we don’t develop these sorts of applications ourselves, we have many partners who are keen to assist you if you want to take advantage of the opportunities now possible because of the large number of people using location aware mobiles. The question is how much extra business would you like?

Maybe you would like to join the discussion and leave a comment of your own to add to the mix?

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Check Ins, foursquare, geosmart, iphone, lbs games, location based services, Mapping Applications, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, Retail Profit, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Sales, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GPS Car Navigation for Rugby Tourists to New Zealand with Global iPhone and iPad First

There’s a world championship event going on in New Zealand right now with rugby teams competing for a major cup. Many of the tourists who have arrived in New Zealand or are coming over for the rugby matches have iPhones and or iPads. They may be staying in Auckland or the region the national team they are supporting is based and don’t want to buy a complete car navigation device or a map set for the whole country when they are only staying for days or weeks.

The thing with the iPhone or iPad is that it is one of those ubiquitous devices that you keep on your person and navigation isn’t necessarily just about being a driver. It might be about being confident that the way the taxi is taking you is the quickest, or how do I get to the Fan Zone or Rugby Stadium or perhaps one of the REAL NZ Festival events.

MetroView Systems Pty Limited from Australia has come up with an excellent solution using GeoSmart car navigation maps and Points of Interest data, called MetroView NZ City. Because they are a local (Australasian) company, they are nimble and were able to come up with a product well suited for the rugby tourist, or in fact any tourist visiting New Zealand. Of course there are many Kiwis who don’t need all of New Zealand either, but a real key opportunity is that if you are only coming over for days or weeks. NZ$9.95 for true GPS car navigation on a device you already own is great value. That’s less than the price of 3 cups of coffee!

The application, which you can buy from the Apple Appstore has all the Points of Interest a rugby fan is looking for, but lots of great features around the iPhone and iPad as well. For example you can listen to and control your music and podcasts right from within the application using the iPad/iPhone button. If you have appointments (with an address)  in your mobile’s calendar, you can navigate directly to them, the same applies to your contacts list. Your music will automatically mute if there is a navigation instruction.

It is likely that the concept of buying maps for a single city will become more common in other countries but you saw it here first in New Zealand with GeoSmart data and MetroView software. Of course it isn’t just about the rugby, it is full car navigation with the features you are used to using. If you are planning a visit to New Zealand and want to find your way around on your iPhone or iPad, check out this product. I think you’ll find it very useful.

And all the best to your team, I hope they do really well, maybe even second if you’re not supporting the All Blacks;p

Metroview NZ City

September 14, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, iphone, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, Rugby, satnav, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment