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What Tools Do You Need to Develop an LBS Application Part 3

Geocoding and Reverse Geocoding are key components for many LBS Applications.

Geocoding is the process of generating a set of co-ordinates, which are subsequently used to display a location on a map. If you have a huge database of addresses, we typically do this as a batch process and have tools designed to try to compensate for poorly laid out databases, or errors such as mispelling, wrong suburb or when people like Real Estate Agents make up their own to make a location sound more attractive. A common one for example is Whangarei Surrounds. There is a place called Whangarei, but not Whangarei surrounds. Computers being fairly literal, if you try to search for a place that doesn’t exist in the database, you have to get creative.

Services like the POI Webservice V2, whichwas mentioned in the previous blog, are designed to help you with this requirement. How you do this depends on the type of application you are developing. For example:

  • If you are using an SMS service, you would have to have a very good address, if you want to get a good result. If the address doesn’t exist in our database, we can return a set of co-ordinates that are next best, for example if we don’t have the exact street address, we can return the middle of the street. One common issue in New Zealand which dates back to the days when we had lots of councils who didn’t consult with each other on street name allocation. As a consequence of this there are many duplicates. For example there are 23 different Queen Streets in Greater Auckland.
  • An autocompleter is a great way of getting to the correct address first time. You can see a nice example of this on AA Maps, where a new request is made of the POI Web Service every time a new character is entered, if the right result comes up at that point, you can click on it and then perform the action desired, such as viewing it on a map. This can function easily in a PC browser and can work fine in many mobile browsers. The main difference in a mobile would be that you reduce the number of results displayed in a list to make it user friendly on the smaller display.

For developers, there is much more detailed information in the Developer Section of our web site, including code examples. We support a wide range of results from text to javascript and html.

Reverse Geocoding is a powerful tool for mobile devices. What this does is using the co-ordinates derived from the mobile phone, we can display the users current location on a map. What we can then do is provide information about Points of Interest close to the user.

The first thing we can offer is the nearest street address. This can be used in various solutions such as

  • Buddy Finder
  • Locating children or elderly people, to ensure they are where they are supposed to be. This can include things like geo-fencing (which will be explained in a future blog).  The concept for children or elderly people might be to make sure they are at school, or perhaps close to the home or retirement village. It is very common for elderly people with Alzheimers or other conditions to wander off and then lose track of where they are or how to get back. Reverse Geocoding could enable authorised people to find out where they are if they have gone missing. Geo-fencing allows you to create a ring or polygon around the area they should be at, for example the gardens and surrounds of a rest home, but set of an alarm within a system if people leave that area, or go within a predefined distance of that area.
  • Locating people for health purposes. For example a system in Europe was designed to locate people such as diabetics who are away from their home and don’t have their insulin with them. Reverse geocoding could locate exactly where they are, while a proximity tool could identify the nearest Pharmacy which could prepare are dose and put it on a taxi to the patient’s location, even if they are disoriented and not sure where they are themselves.

This leads on to another benefit of reverse geocding in mobile applications. One of the most common services being developed for mobile applications is the ability to find Points of Interest nearby the location of the person’s mobile, without them having to be able to identify their location. This would then utilise either a proprietary database, or the GeoSmart subscription POI database which was mentioned in our previous blog. We have an extensive database covering most locations you might want to find when you are out and about. It could be (follow the links for examples on AA Maps web site) a motelBP petrol station, a public toilet, a National Bank ATM, a pharmacy, cafe or pretty much anything. This makes it really for people to find anything they need within proximity of their location, without having to kow where they are.

Proximity Based Marketing will be a huge growth area for LBS which is enabled by these tools as is Location Based Social Networking.

Of course if you now have the co-ordinates of where you are and the co-ordinates of the location you want to go to, you can now offer turn by turn directions to that location n the mobile. This will be the topic of our next blog, so if you are interested in this subject, please bookmark this blog, or add it to your RSS aggregator such as iGoogle.

Geocoding and reverse geocoding a critical tools for mobile LBS applications.

April 2, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, driving directions, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, social networking, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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.

locationinnovation1

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

Free V, Free Ice Creams, Free Entertainment and Location Innovation Awards

So I’ve been thinking some more about entries that people could come up with for the Awards. It’s summer Downunder and that raises some interesting ideas for LBS applications for the Awards.

In summer we have lots of events such as beach parties and concerts in parks sponsored by various organisations and often in conjunction with radio stations. Often as part of these events, ice cream and energy drink brands get together and offer opportunities to win free product and other goodies by getting to the right place at the right time.

This might be a game or a treasure hunt or it maybe simply a matter of telling people that there is a free concert on in a particular park or beach, or that the Outside Broadcast Radio Vehicle will be at a certain spot at a certain time and if you are one of the first (x number of) people to get there you will get some free product.

LBS is a great way to get people to head for those locations. Here are a few examples:

  • Text a message to a short code with your current location (street address) and get the time and location of today’s beach party or concert, complete with personalised turn by turn directions on how to get there.
  • Text a message to a short code with your current location (street address) and get your first, or next clue to get you closer to your prize.
  • Text the name of your town to a short code  to get information about the next event date and time.
  • Receive a message that you can forward to your friends who you want to join you at the party or concert so they can also get their own driving directions.
  • As above but with electronic coupons so that the first (x number of) people with the coupons get the prizes or free product. Only people who receive the electronic coupon qualify for the prize, which means people who send invites will want others to send one to them, which creates a viral marketing process.

Another concept could be a solution for free product for people driving on a holiday trip. This could be along similar lines, but promoting a different service. For example:

  • In recent years the narrow Kopu Bridge leading into the Coromandels is a major bottleneck, sometimes with delays of an hour or sometimes much longer. On a number of occassions I’ve seen one of the distinctive V cars on the side of the road giving away cold cans of their popular energy drink to frustrated drivers sitting in a long line of traffic on a steaming hot summers day. If they are going to do that, they could come up with some sort of LBS traffic report telling people where the traffic jams are and where to find themselves a bottle of V to cool down with. Of course this would also be a great concept for brands like TipTop Ice Cream who frequent run summer competitions.

These are just a couple of ideas where popular brands can have some summer fun with LBS and Viral Marketing to promote their brands, show some technology leadership and appeal to the tech savvy Generation Y people and build some product loyalty.Maybe you could come up with an idea, win one of our awards and then sell the concept to them.

December 15, 2008 Posted by | awards, competition, competitions, driving directions, geosmart, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, new zealand, proximity based marketing, real time traffic, social networking, Uncategorized, viral marketing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment