GeoSmart Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

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

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

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

Lost In a Box is Back

Last year we partnered with The Edge in their cool location based competition Lost In a Box. As we blogged at the time, it was hugely successful with over 3 and a half million page impressions over 3 weeks in over 200,000 unique browser sessions. This proves what we have been saying for so long, that people love location based competitions.

This year The Edge came back to us and said they want to do it again and we were delighted to partner with them on Lost in a Box 2. By the look of the map it is even more popular this time as they add new concepts, including hiding 2 people in the box instead of one.

We’ll be looking forward to seeing Lost in a Box 2 break new records for engagement and have enjoyed participating with this campaign.

So if you haven’t tried it already, why not go and check it out yourself?

If you have any questions about how to use location in your next campaign, please contact us.

September 5, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, competition, competitions, geosmart, lbs, lbs games, location based services, map tools, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Radio Advertising, viral marketing, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Location and Shopping – Tomorrow Becomes Today

This morning I was watching a podcast on Unterther.TV which was an interview with Ken Harlan of MobileFuse, a Mobile advertising network. Their core business is publishing ads on mobile applications and web pages, but the discussion that got my interest was about people using their own Smartphone devices to do their shopping. This piqued my interest because one of the areas of shopping in the future is about navigating the grocery store and shopping interests.

GeoSmart is often found at the leading edge of location based technology, working with partners to come up with new applications and helping build the future that one day we will take for granted.

Sky and Sainsbury’s Supermarkets have collaborated to put iPad mounts with chargers in supermarket trolleys. The story suggests you might like to watch sport news and other entertainment.

The idea sort of appeals to me, but I can hear my wife saying “Don’t You Dare!”

But there are more powerful opportunities and I’m sure where Sainsbury’s really want to head with a company like MobileFuse would go something like this:

1. A Sainsbury App that gives you access to their product list including using your Smartphone scanner as you consume product at home to generate your shopping list. When you are ready to go shopping, the app would navigate you to the nearest store to your current location or a selected location such as your home or other destination, so your frozen goods stay cold.

2. Having checked in, you could be notified of any friends or family that are also in the store, or in the neighbourhood, or not:)

3. The App gets to know the sort of things you like to buy and shows you ads of similar products that may be of interest. This could include showing you videos about the product as you are walking around the store, it might even share recipes for you.

4.  Where I get excited is that it could show you where to find all the products you want, in effect order the shopping list so that it lets you know which product to get next as you go down the aisle so you don’t miss anything. In a chain, location based mapping and indoor navigation information could be uploaded for any store in the country, so that anywhere you go, you don’t need to know the layout.

5. This brings in loyalty programs that recognise you and offers you deals based on products that meet your profile and would be of interest to you.

6. You scan your products into the basket in the same way as they have done in stores like Albert Hein in the Netherlands, but the difference is that you do it on your own device and probably also have contact-less payment at the check out.

This may sound futuristic but self scanning was a struggle to introduce not that long ago. I think in a few years time you might find yourself doing it. Hopefully we will have assisted in this.

August 31, 2011 Posted by | Business Tools, Check Ins, Distribution, driving directions, geosmart, Indoor Navigation, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, route optimisation, Sales, social networking, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crazy About Rugby

When Tango Communications and Air New Zealand came to us saying they were going to run another cool promotional campaign, we were delighted to have the opportunity to participate. Together with a number of other sponsors, Air New Zealand have put together a road trip in specially detailed Britz campervans, driven by Air NZ staff who won the opportunity to have an exciting road trip from Christchurch to Dunedin as outlined in this story.

The 10 campervans left Kings College late yesterday morning after a photo opportunity with Prime Minister John Key and are now on their way south.

The campervans all have GPS tracking in them and using GeoSmart Maps technology members of the public can view the current location of the vehicles in real time.

You can also view the route they took and read their journals, which are uploaded by mobile along the way.

Of course we are also keeping them up to date with AA Traffic Alerts to their mobiles, but fortunately so far the only possible problem has been a slip on the Desert Rd in the opposite direction to their journey.

The Air New Zealand Campervans Crazy About Rugby Tour is a great example of using location based services in a marketing campaign. We look forward to following their journey and invite agencies and marketers to talk to us about how they can also use our mapping tools and technologies in their campaigns.

July 14, 2011 Posted by | AA Traffic, Agencies, competition, competitions, geosmart, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the best Car Nav product for New Zealand

Every year or so the Consumer Institute does a test of car navigation products and produces their ranking based on a number of criteria. Almost always the top brands are the ones that use our GeoSmart Maps. In this case the top two products also featured AA Real Time Traffic which got a mention. We believe that in future this will become a standard requirement for all quality car navigation products. First, knowing where to go doesn’t help if the road in your path is obstructed or closed due to accidents or incidents. We have had many incidents throughout New Zealand  in the last couple of weeks which have caused major delays to motorists who weren’t fortunate to have car navigation with Real Time Traffic to warn them.  A recent TV3 News Story with a race including the use of a TomTom Go Live 1000 illustrated that Real Time Traffic can beat conventional routing norms.

AA Traffic Alerts on Car Nav

The latest comparison was no exception to the norm with the top 2 products being from Navman and TomTom, with Navman slightly ahead.

These tests are always subjective and we don’t get the opportunity to comment or assist in these tests. I would like to comment on a few items here.

Firstly these devices have become highly sophisticated and have a wide range of programming options that make it hard to fairly compare devices. Their algorithms are different and they have features that are difficult to compare directly, its a case of apples versus pears and the best unit in my opinion has to do with the functionality you desire rather than the brand.

There was mention on both brands where they were guided to a staff car park at an undisclosed airport. This makes it difficult to respond. We typically provide multiple locations to drive to at major airports, but without knowing what was entered or which airport, we can’t really comment. Several brands including Navman and TomTom use GeoSmart Maps which utilises the same Points of Interest data as used by the popular AA Maps website. This site shows over 40 locations that you can route to just at Wellington Airport, as provided by GeoSmart. Obviously they did make it to the airport and they are all pretty well signposted.

There was a comment with TomTom on the Go Live 1000 about the time it took to get a GPS fix. This is ironic because the TomTom Go Live has a SIM Card in it, and therefore has communications and one of the features of it called QuickGPSFix (TM) , is the ability to download the current GPS satellite locations which means that it is designed (if you use the features correctly) to provide very fast location of satellite positions, which is required for the device to function at its best. There was a comment that some of the devices were placed in awkward positions on the windscreen. This is important because in addition to placing the device where it can be easily seen by the driver, it is also important that the device has the best possible access to the sky in order for the antenna to communicate with the satellites in order to determine its position. Apples with apples should see devices being compared being placed in an identical location on the windscreen in the same type of vehicle.

There was a mention of a product on Trade Me which came with an illegal wall charger and adaptor. There is a thriving trade of devices typically imported from China that have illegally hacked navigation software and illegal copies of car navigation maps. One of these uses GeoSmart data that is already several years old and whilst the software is good, it is also old an not licensed. Whilst these may look like a good value purchase, the software and maps are effectively stolen goods and this is frequently raised with Trade Me. If you buy product that is new, it should be factory sealed and have a serial number. If it is used or not one of the major brands, ask for a copy of the original bill or receipt.

I’ll leave you with 4 points:

1. Understand what functionality you are looking for before you buy a nav device. Read the details on the packaging or read information on company web sites and review sites. Often retail sales people just read off the box themselves. Ask them if they have personally used the devices or attended Product Knowledge  training by the manufacturer.

2. Real Time Traffic. Have you ever been stuck in traffic? Would you have liked the opportunity to be informed and had options before you started driving, or even during the trip so that you could get where you want to go?

3. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Today’s nav devices have very good help screens and tutorials. It is worth spending a little time to learn about what it can do when you first purchase your device because a lot of the ‘problems’ are really lack of user knowledge rather than a failure of the device. Today’s top brands have very highly sophisticated features that may be missed by the owners.

May 10, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get Listed on New Zealand Car Navigation Systems

I noticed that over the weekend someone had located our blog by searching on Google with the query “How to get listed on Car navigation systems”. I’m glad you asked and equally glad you found us because the answer if very easy.

GeoSmart provides the mapping information and Points of Interest (places to go) for the major car navigation brands in New Zealand including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, Metroview and more. In addition to this, we also provide data for lots of other services including cartography and web mapping. The most popular web site we provide data for is AA Maps, which has huge traffic both domestic and international due to the affiliation of the NZ Automobile Association with other motoring associations around the world, so many tourist coming to NZ plan their NZ travel on that site. There are many more of course and some of these are showcased on our home page.

We are also finding many new clients in the mobile space, developing applications for iPhone and Android. They also use Points of Interest, so if you list with us you are very likely, if relevant to find your details on those applications as well, again at no charge to you.

So lets keep this simple. All you need to do is go to either the GeoSmart home page and click on the link:

Or go to the AA Maps home page and click on the icon that looks like this:

Simply follow the instructions that follow, which will allow you to quickly and easily add your business to our database for free.

You will have the ability to accurately identify the location of your business and chose from a selection of categories that represent your business, which is frequently multiple categories. For example a restaurant may also be a cafe and a take away. We will then validate your listing to ensure that you are authorised to make the entry on our database. Your data will then quickly be added to our data which is then updated by our clients and partners including the major car nav brands.

You will also be given the option of a free dynamic map with pan and zoom tools that you can post on your website for free. If people want driving directions to your location they can enter their starting address and be guided via AA Maps with full printable turn by turn directions and maps and even be able to check the real time traffic conditions before they go. All we ask in return is that you log onto your page and ensure your data is up to date at least once a year.

What if you are a chain? No problem, as long as you are authorised to represent your business, you can add as many of your business locations as you wish. Hopefully as a chain, we already have your data, but you may have new branches that we haven’t been told about, or some may have moved location, so please check on the AA Maps website to confirm we have all your current info.

Now that you will be listed on car navigation and in other applications, you can let people know in person, on your website, newsletters and other material, how they can find you. We look forward to helping send business your way.

May 1, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Business Tools, car navigation, driving directions, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, iphone, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, Sales, satnav, software, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christchurch Traffic Map

Our AA Traffic team has been flat out updating road closures and incidents in our system for the AA Maps and AA Roadwatch websites as well as car navigation (specified models of Navman, TomTom and Garmin Asus) and subscription alerts nationwide, but have also done a lot of work to provide quality information for the Canterbury area. This includes the Earthquake Cordon Zone. Its well worth bookmarking if you are travelling around the area as where possible, we do also include real time traffic flow.

Whilst we have been told by many people that they have been very impressed with our data quality, we would like to point out:

1.       All Road condition reports for Christchurch is provided to the AA by a number of 3rd parties .

2.       As all of these Agencies in the Christchurch area are inundated with Earthquake recovery, the information we are receiving may not be current.

3.       We are unable to guarantee accurate driving directions for the Christchurch Area as conditions are changing rapidly.

4.       Our advice to all motorists is not to drive in the earthquake affected areas unless absolutely necessary.

5.       Expect significant delays and ensure all precautions are taken to avoid accidents.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, Garmin Asus, gps, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Air New Zealand Freeway Picks GeoSmart Maps

Air New Zealand are running a very cool promotion to promote their new Air New Zealand Rental Cars service. They have set up 2 rental cars, one called Jeffree in the North Island and one called Freeona on The Mainland. Members of the public can register here to go in the draw to win a week’s free rental car, together with a Telecom Garmin Asus Android Mobile which of course uses GeoSmart Car Navigation Maps and AA Traffic by GeoSmart.

As part of the promotion, the vehicle is tracked and the location in shown on a GeoSmart Map on the website, together with photos and blog comments from the lucky people while on their journey.

This promotion will go for sometime, so do register and join the fun. GeoSmart is delighted to partner with Air New Zealand and some other great brands in this fun campaign.

February 18, 2011 Posted by | AA Traffic, car navigation, competition, competitions, driving, driving directions, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, social networking, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment