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AA Traffic is here

For the last year we have been flat out developing our Real Time Traffic solution, aka AA Traffic. This has been a huge undertaking with so many elements involved. As you may know, GeoSmart is a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Automobile Association. NZAA is the first and only motoring association in the world so far to own a mapping company and thereby have access to its own mapping data and the ability to create solutions.

One of the biggest issues today is traffic and as a motoring association, an incorporated society owned by its members who are motorists, a key concern for it is to keep motorists moving. This presents a problem in a country where there appear to be more cars than people. In Auckland particularly, traffic issues are compounded by the many people who feel that the public transport system doesn’t meet their needs. That’s without taking into consideration the current bus strikes in Auckland which have seen some schools missing 15% of the students today. In August Michael Barnett, Chairman of the Auckland Business Forum quoted comments in the NZ Herald of 10 years ago that then the time-cost to business for Auckland was around $1 billion!

AA Traffic by GeoSmart was not designed to solve problems, rather to inform road users and give them information that will help them decide on their driving route, or perhaps to reconsider whether they want to be on the road at all. The system is to complex to explain, but fundamentally this is how it works.

Data Input

We have established relationships with emergency services, New Zealand Transport Agency, several councils and other organisations who continually feed us with information about accidents, incidents, road works, events and anything  else that could interfere with normal throughput of NZ’s roads. This information is managed by call centre staff who work shifts covering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The system is designed to collate all of this information, eliminate false positives, verify the source and quality of the data and much more. We even invite AA Members to tell us about incidents they find, by dialling *223 on their mobiles.

Data Output

The information is then disseminated to be transmitted across many channels. The first ones are AA Maps, which is our flagship mapping site, supporting routing, searching for Points of Interest and much more. What better way to plan your trip or holiday, than to be able view the route, including any traffic issues that might affect you before you drive, then print the route with turn by turn directions, to take for your navigator in the car.

We have totally revamped AA’s Roadwatch website. You can now preset the region that has the greatest relevance to you and by setting up a free AA Maps account, have Roadwatch automatically open to the page in your web browser. This automatically refreshes every 5 minutes to give you the latest information.

We now have additional subscription  services that you can find at the new AA Traffic website. These are Alerts that you can receive by email or direct to your mobile phone. Services available are the Route Alert, Area Alert and Weekend Getaway. If you are an AA Member, you can try the email Alert services for free until the end of the year and if you use a Telecom mobile, you can access the Alert service for free on your mobile until the end of the year.

Of course we are very serious about safety and as we can’t tell whether you are in your car, or driving when you receive our alerts, we place a condition on users of our services, that they do not view them whilst driving.

In addition to these services, we are now sending AA Traffic information directly to compatible car navigation devices. This has significant benefits because if the device knows where you are going and the route you are taking, it is able to alert you about an incident (even if it occurred after you started driving) and offer you an alternative route. The first devices on the market come from Navman. There are a number of other brands of car navigation offering this service on the way. If you are on the road a lot, even if you know how to get to your destination, you can’t know about what’s happening or going to happen on your route. This should be of significant benefit to all regular road users, whether emergency services, trades people, sales people and merchandisers, taxis and many more.

Now of course we want people to know about it and will be running a number of marketing activities to share the word. You can expect to see advertising material about AA Traffic in a range of media and of course we invite you to try it out for yourself.

If you are on Twitter, you can now follows us here, and we al;so have a Facebook Fan Page where we update information and also run competitions and invite people to share their stories or information. If you are on Facebook, why don’t you join in and keep in the know?

October 12, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, competitions, driving, driving directions, facebook, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, maps, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 Tools Do You Need To Create An LBS Application in New Zealand Part One

The first thing you need is a map. Many people seem to think (as I did before I joined GeoSmart) that maps are fundamentally the same and equal. Makes sense doesn’t it. We’re a small country and you would expect all maps to have the same data.

That would seem to make sense given that the core data for New Zealand is supplied by the Government under the Land Institute of New Zealand. LINZ is the authority when it comes to things cadastral. They manage land titles, topographic data about New Zealand, hydrographic information, the official street name register and is a part of the NZ Geographic Board which is currently busy deciding whether Wanganui should now be called Whanganui.

When GeoSmart decided to enter the car navigation business, we quckly found that the ‘official’ maps of New Zealand have a ‘computed road centreline’. In effect that means that they use a system which places the road notionally between property boundaries. This wasn’t a big deal when it came to road maps because a road map requires that you plan your rate based on a paper image and if it is not exactly right, you can interpret the map and get to your desired location. This data also contains ‘paper roads’. Paper roads are unformed roads that were draughted in Scotland in the late 1800’s and never constructed. Again if you were to see a road on a map and it physically isn’t there, no problem, you can work your way around it. Consumers Institute has a number of pages on this topic.

Whilst not an issue on a printed map, consider the problems if you tried to use this data for car navigation and routing. When GeoSmart made the commitment to develop a car navigation database, it was quickly realised that it was necessary to drive every road in New Zealand and also use information gleaned from its Orthophotography in order to create an accurate road centreline database. In doing so, we were also able to capture information including one way streets, dual carriageways, turn restrictions, speed zones, the actual name on the street signs (which were sometimes different to the LINZ data) whether a road was paved or not and much more. In doing this we were able to create a database suitable for car navigation (over 90% market share including TomTom and Navman)  and many other services including Fleet Management (around 80% market share including Navman Wireless, Astrata, Xlerate, Argus Tracking, Blackhawk).

Fleet management is even more critical. One of the key reasons companies buy Fleet Management solutions is because they can claim back Road User Charges (RUC) as they are not liable to pay taxes when their trucks are on private property. If they were to try to do this using the computed road centreline, they would struggle to pass a Tax Audit because using in accurate maps, they could often be calculated to be off-road, when they are actually on the road. You can best see this in evidence by using a map dataset which overlays aerial or satellite imagery with the cadastral map data set. Especially in rural areas you will find that there are major discrepancies between the photography and the map data.

So after that long journey, GeoSmart is now able to offer you access to the Web Mapping API, which can enable you to offer routing, driving directions and other tools including displaying map tiles on a mobile or PDA display. You can search for streets, numbers and businesses.

If you explore the many LBS applications being developed overseas (some of which this blog will cover in the near future, you will see that driving or turn by turn directions are a very popular feature of LBS applications. Whether it is a LBS game, a buddy finder, proximity based marketing, planning a run or cycle trip, routing has a part to play and is one of the major reasons that people internationally use LBS applications. If you don’t have a map book (we create the Wises and AA Maps you probably have in your car)  or folded map with you, you have less opportunity to interpret data that is inaccurate, so it is imperative that you use accurate information in your application.In countries where the Government provides accurate maps (such as the USA) this is very easy to do, but in New Zealand, to date only GeoSmart has a fully driven road centreline. And of course as you know from a previous blog, we are now re driving all of New Zealand in the RAPIDcV with around 20cm accuracy.

The RAPIDcV GeoSmarts hi-tech data capture vehicle

So if you want to create an application with accurate maps and directions, the SmartFind WebMap API is a key component. If you would like to check this out, we do of course have the ability to give you a Developer Agreement at no cost so that you can start creating your application.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, cartography, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, lbs games, maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, tomtom, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

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

Location Innovation and Navball

How do you combine LBS technology with GPS and mobile phones with a gaming environment that is fun, educational and gives you plenty of exercise? That’s one of the questions we have for Kiwis who enter the GeoSmart Location Innovation Awards.

29 people have entered the awards so far and we know of several more people who are working on projects. A lot of interest has come from universities and we all know that university students love coming up with ideas for fun things to do. The Auckland City Flashmob Group already has 487 members who have signed up through their Facebook page.

In this blog I am going to give you some examples of applications that might gove you ideas on applications to create yourselves. One that I really like as a concept is Navball which comes from Amsterdam. The Netherlands are of course a nation of football fans and it makes a lot of sense to combine their love of the round ball game with GPS and LBS technology to come up with something that is fun, fast, competitive and very Generation Y.

The concept is that you have two teams of 11 players, just like you would in a game of soccer and they compete to kick a virtual ball into a virtual goal. The playground is a set of predefined streets, unknown to the players before they hit the field. The players off course have soccer strips so that they are recognisable from the general public and won’t cause concern for pedestrians as they go about their business.

Each player is equipped with a Nokia N95 which is GPS enabled. The players are shown where the ‘ball’ is and the location of the first ‘goal’. They have to form a line in the shape of an arrow in order to be able to identify the direction the ball will be kicked. The game lasts for 45 minutes and the winner is obviously the team which has achieved the most goals.

The play can be followed on a Google Maps mashup which allows viewers to monitor a scoreboard and see the locations of each of the 22 players as they make their way around the course, which is the streets of Amsterdam.

Here is a promotional video of the game being played in Amsterdam.

Navball is the brainchild of The Saints mobile software, one of many innovative Dutch developers. Another application they have launched which would be great fun for both tourists and locals is Get Lost in Rotterdam. It’s sort of like a treasure hunt, except that it is simply about finding new places and having fun. It is designed such that it could be played in any city in the world.

You send a free txt message to a short code and can then download the application which has 15 consecutive instructions. I watched a video demonstration on the website, which went like this:

1. Get on the tram heading for the city centre and get off at the 5th stop.

2. Take the first Metro (subway) entrance and go one stop.

3. Follow the first dog you see for (x) time and then turn left

4. Catch the first available bus. etc

There are lots of prizes for people who send in photos from their journey and the game will run on many different brands and models of phone that have Java capability.

These games are entertaining, fun, involve adventure and exercise. I don’t know if they allow you to track the people or their trail on a map website like AA Maps, but that would obviously add some more fu, not only to the players but to others.

So there are a couple of cool examples of LBS Games. What do you think you could come up with? You can enter to win prizes with your idea at www.locationinnovation.co.nz. If it’s really good, you could be heading for a free trip to the USA to the Where 2.0 conference in May next year!

December 4, 2008 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, competition, competitions, geosmart, gps, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, maps, new zealand, satnav, Uncategorized, university, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free New Zealand web cartography tools for educational and non-commercial purposes.

Free New Zealand web cartography tools for educational and non-commercial purposes.

As the Gold Sponsor for GeoCart’2008, the National Cartography Conference at Auckland University from 1-3 September, GeoSmart Maps Ltd General Manager Phil Allen has announced that GeoSmart is offering a set of web tools for web cartographers for use free of charge for educational and non-commercial use. He will outline these in a presentation at the conference on Wednesday 3 September.

“As the leading supplier of commercial cartographic products in New Zealand, we would like to encourage development of new applications,” said Phil Allen. “There are so many opportunities for people to develop wonderful web and mobile applications and we have the API’s and web services, as well as a wealth of geo-spatial data about New Zealand. “

The tools GeoSmart is making available include:

· Web mapping API

· Points of Interest API

· Geocoding and reverse geocoding web services

· Directions API

· Route Optimisation API

· Vector Graphics API

· Map datasets (NZ map base, Cadastral map base, Census map base)

Using such tools, web cartographers can build complex web, Location Based Services (LBS) and Mobile based GIS solutions such as; Carbon footprints for businesses by measuring the journey times of staff going to and from work and including their business activities to computing calorie burn when a user creates a walk/cycle/running route. The tools include all of the APIs required and a set of maps with many code examples. Allen’s paper will present these tools and advise how educational institutes and the web cartography community at large can take advantage of these for promoting and enhancing our industry.

For more information please contact Luigi Cappel luigi.cappel@geosmart.co.nz

August 29, 2008 Posted by | car navigation, carbon footprint, cartography, driving, driving directions, gps, maps, new zealand, route optimisation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment