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Great Value with Air New Zealand Taxis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 10

Wow, where did the year go? This has been a huge year for GeoSmart and 10 looks to be equally exciting.  If you want to catch up with us, you have a few hours before we close for summer holidays. We re-open on 11 January.

The big one for the year just gone has to be AA Traffic. This was a long time in the planning and it has been very exciting for us to set up this real time traffic service covering all of New Zealand. Have you tried it yet? Check the Traffic web site before you go on holiday.  You will find that we have extended the free email and txt alerts until the end of January. You may have finished work, but accidents and other incidents don’t go on holiday. On the traffic page you will also find that we have Cook Straight Ferries as well as domestic and international airline departures and arrivals for Auckland and Christchurch airports.

If you set up a free account, you can have Roadwatch automatically open up to the area you live, work or play in so that you can see if there is anything you need to know about. Road works and ramp closures can be really frustrating, so this is a good place to keep an eye out for anything that might get in your way. They are time sensitive, so it is worth looking at before you get in the car, you can also click on Upcoming Events, to see if there is anything happening in the future that might make you want to change your plans.

If you haven’t already, you will see that our AA Maps website is continuously evolving with new features.  One of my favourites is the proximity feature. Pick an address or Point of Interest and you will see that you can now look for something within a 5km radius. For example if you were going to Rotorua for Christmas, you could look for  restaurants or bars within walking distance of your accommodation. You can also plan an entire itinerary, and drag and drop and drop the stops to help you fit more into your time while saving gas and carbon emissions. You can plan your trip, drag the route on the map to change the roads you will drive on and print it all out to take in the car. Of course you can view AA Traffic incidents and web cams on AA Maps as well, which again makes it a great site to check before you hop in your car.

We are thrilled to be able to give people who buy new Navman car navigation devices between December and January a free Lifetime License to AA Traffic. This is the ultimate way to get your traffic alerts. We are currently broadcasting in the greater Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch areas and more will be added in the new year. This totally changes the concept of GPS and car navigation. You can set it so that it only warns you if there is an incident on your route and gives you the option to accept an alternate route avoiding the incident. Who wants to spend their holiday stuck in their cars in a line behind an accident you could have avoided? You might have avoided buying nav because you know your way around, but you would never have known that the road was blocked ahead for the next 4 hours due to a serious accident. You will also love the ability to find your nearest petrol station, ATM, cafe etc, or perhaps a rest area, or a dump site for your campervan. And when the kids ask “Are we nearly there yet?” You can say, “we will be there in 17 minutes”:)

Of course we love our partners TomTom very much too. Their IQ Routes (which of course uses our road data)  has even surprised me on occasion in finding a new way to drive home, that I had never thought of. Other than AA Traffic, they share all the same excellent information that our other car navigation partners do.

We continue to add new data to our car nav solutions including 3D buildings, lane guidance and enhanced Points of Interest data. Car nav is a never ending part of our product development and we stay aware of all the new developments and features that our partners are planning so that we can offer the best possible data for New Zealand going forward. Of course our data collection and driving never end. The RAPIDcV continues to collect lots of valuable data and we have some exciting plans for enhancing this in the new year.

We have joined the adoption of social networking with a Facebook Fan Page where we are engaging with the public with competitions and discussion related to traffic issues. We also have a Twitter page, which we use in a similar way to share information and develop a community of people interested in supporting our efforts to share up to date information.

We have a number of new web mapping clients and several more that will go live early in the new year. For businesses who want quality map data, routing and access to our extensive Points of Interest database, our data is updated 11 times a year making sure that you can rely on our products. We feature some of those sites on our home page.

We launched the new Route2GO web service, which was a long time coming. We have so many companies who have been waiting for this and are very exciting to see new 3rd party solutions being developed that will help businesses with route optimisation as well as calculation of fair pricing for freight and travel costs. Whether it is a large transport company, a taxi service or a furniture shop with a single van, we now have a solution that will make life easy for you. We are working with and seeking new partners who would like to integrate these tools into their solutions for their clients as our model is to work with partners, not to compete with our clients in developing end user products.

There have been exciting developments in Fleet Management and we have had many new companies join us this year for everything from vehicle tracking to Road User Charges, with a number starting to adopt the concept of digital hubometers. RUC is here to stay and with over 80% of Fleet Management companies using our data, it would be fair to say that it is the standard.

We are working on many off shore projects and you will hear our name much more often outside of New Zealand, mostly with partners. A major part of our IP is the knowledge of how to build quality map datasets and then provide web services and API’s around this data.

We ran the Location Innovation Awards and in May we sent the lucky winner to the USA to attend the Where 2.0 Conference. We are going to run the 2010 Location Innovation Awards and have already had some exciting offers of sponsorship in prizes and technical support. We are changing the timing  this year to make it easy for our university partners to fit the Awards into their calendar, as we were very excited about the work that many students, especially at Massey University prepared. New Zealand has a huge amount of untapped talent and we look forward to helping the legends of the future make themselves known. Location Based Services are going to hit their straps in the next couple of years and you will see the GeoSmart name a lot in this context.

If you haven’t seen them, we now have regular e-newsletters. We used to print them, but print means cutting down trees and isn’t as multidimensional. You can find them here and also subscribe if you would like them in your inbox.

If you are still with me, thanks for reading this blog. There was much more activity that I could tell you about, but it’s time to take a deep breath and recharge, ready for the most exciting year yet in 10. I hope that you will be a part of that with us as I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and warm happy holidays. Thanks to everyone at GeoSmart and our many partners for helping to make this year the success it has been. We look forward to catching up with you soon.

December 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Social Networking and LBS

So what does social networking have to do with LBS. Right now, perhaps not a great deal, but very soon, it could have a great deal to do with mobile. Social networking is a massive growth segment of the Internet. There are some interesting things happening in this area. One is that Social Networking, which began largely as an online way of connecting to people in more meaningful ways, not only people you know, but also people with whom you have business or personal interests in common.

There has been an interesting evolution in Social Networking recently. The first is that it has gone mobile in a big way. I have been talking with Telcos from UK, Europe, the USA and New Zealand over the last couple of months about LBS and Social Networking. All of them have confirmed that close to and in many cases more than 50% of all mobile data traffic today is taken up by social networking. They didn’t plan for this, they didn’t market or advertise it, they didn’t expect it. Consumers just made it happen and in many cases, developers created mobile phone applications that can be installed as a simple download allowing people to use elements of applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Hyves and many others on their phone including the ability to upload photos and post them on your social networking site, as well as connecting to the phone to ring them, from within the mobile.

In one of my personal blogs, I have written about Social Networking including the first in a series on the use of Twitter for Business. One of the changes that is happening is that the social networks which were largely around connecting to people via the internet, but now there are all sorts of real face to face connections being made. Groups are using social networking to meet their ‘friends’ in the real world. For example, we are members of the Wireless & Broadband Forum. The forum has recently started to use Facebook to invite people to attend their events such as Wireless Wednesday, which was where we held the Prize Giving for the 2009 Location Innovation Awards. I also belong to a number of other business groups which use Social Networking to organise get togethers or ‘meetups’.

Given the interesting change that social networking is evolving from an environment where people find each other and commuicate on the Internet, to actually meeting each other in the real world, LBS offers a great opportunity to enhance that by facilitating finding each other, getting driving directions from where you are to the meeting place. GeoSmart of course has many tools to facilitate this in the mobile environment, such as identifying where you are and providing Driving Directions to the meet location. Geocoding and Reverse Geocoding can identify where you are now and the location of your destination. The Point of Interest Web Service V2 can identify a street address, but also contains a huge database of POI including cafes, restaurants, accomodation and lots of other business data as well as petrol stations, ATM’s, Public Toilets and even boat ramps if you are going to meet on the water.

A lot of mobiles now have GPS built in and for those that don’t, the ability to identify the nearest cell site(s) is another way to get at least an estimate of the location of the user.

Of course another very important component is maps. You can find out more about why our maps are the best in New Zealand for LBS here.

If you are using social networking on your mobile, Location is one of the most relevent components and you will find more information about this in coming blogs, so why not subscribe with your favourite RSS reader, so that you don’t miss anything.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | driving directions, facebook, geosmart, GIS, gps, Hyves, lbs, location based services, location innovation awards, map tools, maps, Marketing, Meetups, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, social networking, Twitter, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Tools Do You Need to Build a Mobile LBS Application Part 5

Route Optimisation

Time is a commodity you can’t buy more of, people are getting busier all the time. So far we have talked about being able to access and view a map, search for street addresses, Points of Interest and get driving directions to or from a location. We have looked at getting the coordinates of a location to display it on a map and we have looked at Reverse Geocoding to get the nearest street address to the location of a person or object.

The next thing is, what if you want to visit multiple locations on the same trip. You might be a merchandiser or service person with several visits to make and it doesn’t matter what order you do them in. You might be on holiday and wanting to explore the many attractions around you, or you could be visiting Open Homes.

It isn’t easy, looking at a map, to sort out what order to sort your visits into, you could get a pencil and a ruler and try to work out the route in your map book, or you could run your pen across the pages, as if completing a maze to sort out the order, but eventually you would have such a big mess that you would have to buy a new book. Of course this blog is about LBS, which typically means that we are developing applications for a mobile phone, that means that the user quite possibly doesn’t have a map book on them, or at the very least, doesn’t want to deface the book.

Here comes Route Optimisation, or as we call it at GeoSmart, Route2GO. Route Optimisation runs a very complex set of algorithms which look at every possible sequence of stops and comes up with the best order to do your visits. In its simplest form, it allows you to set your start and end points (which could be the same) and then tells you what order to make the visits in. The end result will be fewer kilometres travelled, less fuel, less time and less cost. This way of calculating is called The Travelling Salesman Problem. This concept is also great for people like the delivery truck for a furniture store. The optimised route tells the driver not only what order to do the deliveries in, but in reverse order, tells him how to load his truck so he doesn’t have to keep moving heavy objects around the truck, wasting time and energy and of course reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

There is also complex Route Optimisation. In this scenario there are all sorts of exceptions. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll keep it simple and limited to one day, because in a mobile situation, that’s probably all you would do, although of course you can do far more detailed planning in the office, for example a service manager could be planning how to meet their contractual commitments with multiple vehicles, multiple drivers, who don’t necessarily work on the same day and all sort of restrictions on the client side, such as day of the week, time of day etc. But I said I wouldn’t go into that.

Imagine you are in Queenstown on holiday and you are using one of the Proximity Based Marketing examples, we outlined for the Location Innovation Awards, where you want to visit multiple attractions. Some services like the Bungy Jump are a bit of a drive and others are close by, so you have logistical situations as to how to fit the most experiences into a day. But in order to do the jet boat ride and the Earnslaw cruise, there are time constraints and you have to be at certain places at certain times.

Imagine you are house hunting and a number of the properties you want to look at have Open Homes, which are on at different times.

Complex Route Optimisation would let you specify the times you have to be at certain places and also lets you set the amount of time you want to spend at each one. For Open Homes you might plan, say 15 minutes at each property, but the tourist activities have different times. The jet boat ride might be 45 minutes and the Earnslaw cruise an hour and a half. This tool would allow people to really get the most out of their day and at the same time drive the least distance, least time and cost for travel.

These web services are available as web services and can work very well on a mobile if the application is designed properly. Of course you could also use them on a web site and then have the results sent to the computer as SMS or perhaps a link that open the mobiles browser.

An application that provided these services would use a number of the tools we have previously discussed.

  • You need to identify and geocode the locations to confirm where they are and enable the optimisation.
  • You will want to be able to view the locations on a map to verify what is happening, both for confidence and comprehension.
  • You will need to use the Points Of Interest Web Service to look up street addresses and a database (either your own, a custom one such as seen at Bayleys or Professionals Real Estate.  or subscribing to some of the Point of Interest (POI) categories that GeoSmart offers which cover everything from geographical and historical to cafes, restaurants, attractions etc. You can see loyts of examples on AA Maps.
  • The Directions API would be used once you had established the order of the locations you are visiting and can provide turn by turn driving directions on your mobile from a to b to c and so on.

Just as an aside, the GeoSmart POI database contains additional contact information including phone numbers, email, web site etc, where appropriate. This means that you can also provide links in the mobile application so that people could add information to the contact list in the phone, or the ability to directly call the number from the application, without having to memorise, or copy and save the number.

So now you have used a number of GeoSmart tools (web services and API’s) to create your mobile LBS application. GeoSmart has many more tools available and we don’t stop. Our guys are constantly coming up with new tools and applications. If you haven’t found everything you need to develop your application or concept on the Developer Page, leave a comment or question, or contact us by email at info@geosmart.co.nz.

This was the last blog in this series, but there are many more interesting concepts and stories to tell you about, so please keep coming back, bookmark the main blog page or subscribe using your favourite RSS Feeder. And please feel free to comment, it would be great to share your comments and ideas.

April 6, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, cartography, Delivery, driving, driving directions, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, location innovation awards, map tools, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, optmisation, proximity based marketing, route optimisation, satnav, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Tools Do You Need to Develop a Mobile LBS Application Part 4

A key component and possibly the second highest webmap query on the Internet is for Driving Directions and this has even more relevance in a mobile scenario. Driving Directions is a key point of difference for GeoSmart in New Zealand. In many other countries, the government provides free or low cost map data of a very high quality and suitable for car navigation and other purposes. In New Zealand this isn’t the case. The LINZ maps are the official datum for cadastral property boundaries. However, their road centreline is derived by a computation of the property boundaries.

As I’ve previously mentioned, New Zealand was town planned in Edinborough in the late 1800’s and many of the roads they draughted were never formed or constructed. They are known as paper roads. These roads exist on paper and on the LINZ map data used by services such as Google Maps, but they physically don’t exist. An example is Threepwood Road in Otago. If you have a look on the hybrid mode of satellite view and map view on Google, you will see that while the road exists on the map data, it physcially isn’t there in the satellite photography. This would cause a real problem if you wanted to go for a drive on it.

When GeoSmart discovered this problem and realised that, while it didn’t matter a lot for printed maps where you still have to analyse the data and make a decision on where you drive yourself, practically speaking, if you used either car navigation or a printed set of directions and couldn’t see a map as such, paper roads could cause a lot of confusion and grief. With LINZ having the only full maps of New Zealand, we decided we had to make our own maps. To do this we drove almost every road in New Zealand and also used a lot of Orthophotography to develop a driven road centreline, eliminating all paper roads and at the same time creating an accurate road centreline.

While collecting this data, we were also able to collect information such as the intersections controls (roundabouts, traffic lights etc), turn restrictions (one way streets, no left turns), speed zones, whether the road was sealed, accuracy of street signs and much more. We were even able to establish things like the angles of corners and inclination of roads (how steep they are etc).

This enabled us to build the car navigation dataset used by all the major brands including TomTom, Navman, BMW, Ford, Siemens VDO etc. It also allowed us to create sites like AA Maps and provide the API’s used on Wises web site. Now you can go to AA Maps, plan your journey and print out turn by turn directions from anywhere in NZ to anywhere in NZ and be confident that the instructions will work.

So, from there to your mobile. The Directions Web Service will work on any device that can identify a start point and where the user wants to go. The User Interface is up to the developer  and will probably vary from phone to phone because of its controls and screen size. For example a touch screen such as that on the iPhone or Windows Mobile, would have functionality closer to a web page, whereas a phone without a touch screen would have to function differently. That is really just a design issue, not a significant barrier.

If your phone has GPS or the ability to use cell tower triangulation, it will know where it is. But it is also possible (if you know) to tell your mobile where you are and where you want to go This could be an address you want to get directions to, or it could be Points of Interest from our POI Web Service mentioned in Part 2 of this series. Once you know the start and end of your journey, you can use the Directions web service to guide people directly to your desired location.

So now you can have turn by turn directions delivered to your phone. This could be send as an SMS with text directions, it could be an MMS combining text directions with an image of the route map, or an image zoomed in to your destination, or it could be information in your mobiles web or WAP browser, with enanced functionality.

Here’s the thing. If you are at home or in the office, you can use your PC, but it is of no use to you in your car or away from the computer. You may not know where you are going to want to go until you are out on the road. An LBS application with the Directions Web Service can give you the same freedom, without the necessity of interpreting a map, or more commonly the map isn’t there when you need it. Pick up the kids, meet someone for coffee, find your way from the car park to the show. All easy to do with LBS.

Just as a footnote, a few days ago a 62 year old woman set of from Christchurch to her  home on the West Coast of the South Island. She didn’t arrive and her friends and family spent a couple of days searching for her after she crashed her car down a 5 metre embankment. She was eventually found but the story could have been very different. She may not have been found at all, or not until it was too late to save her life, or she could have been found very easily. If she had a mobile with GPS, after she had been reported missing, if the phone was within coverage, it could have been called and located using an LBS service using GeoSmart tools and her searchers could have had turn by turn directions on their mobiles, right to the spot where her car was.

I suspect this sort of application will be available within the next few years, but someone has to create it first. Tracking elderly people is something that is also a major opportunity.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, cartography, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom, 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

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