GeoSmart Weblog

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GeoSmart adds new features to AA Maps

Are you deciding where to go on your summer holiday around New Zealand, or perhaps looking for a weekend adventure? Before you head out on your Kiwi Road Trip, have a look at what GeoSmart has added to the AA Maps web site.

There are many new and improved features. You can now create your complete itinerary and then change the order of the stops and even check the real time traffic conditions before you leave!

Let’s say you were going to take the kids to Rotorua. You had decided on the Luge, the Agrodome for a ride in the Zoorb, a jetboat ride and the other cool activities they have there, and Rainbow Springs to feed the trout. You set your itinerary on AA Maps and then decided to change the order so that you could finish the day with a meal at the top of the gondola ride and enjoy the views with a nice sunset. Now you can drag and drop the destinations, automatically generating new driving directions from A to B to C to take with you in the car, even showing the travel distance and driving time from one to the next.

You can find your accomodation from AA Maps and when you select it you can look for other amenities such as restaurants within 5km of the property. In this instance my search found 10 within 400 metres of the Millenium Hotel.

You can now set up a free account on the page and store your ‘Favourites’ so that you can find them again later and you can even leave a ‘rating’ once you have been there so that other people can appreciate the great experiences you enjoyed.

Many Kiwi’s feel they know their way around New Zealand and don’t need mapping websites. All good and well, but they don’t know there was a major accident which has blocked the Auckland Harbour Bridge or a slip which has closed the Milford Sound Rd. Now we have included AA Real Time Traffic as well as Traffic Web Cams. There are certain holiday spots that often have traffic jams at peak times such as Long Weekends or the start and end of major holiday periods. In winter there may be ice and snow, or slips that can close lanes or sometimes entire roads. Yu will be able to find this information on the AA Maps web site, where you can select from Minor Accidents, Major Accidents and Traffic Webcams where you can see the traffic flows, refreshed every minute.

If you live and drive in New Zealand, you are probably a member of the NZAA which has many great services to offer you. As a member, these are your services and another important feature is the Feedback button which allows you to tell us whatever you want to, whether it is suggestions for new features, a Point of Interest we didn’t know about, perhaps a restaurant that has changed ownership and has a new name. This is a never ending project as new technology continues to allow us to add new services and features.

If you would like a map on your own website, AA Maps will give you an idea of some of the features GeoSmart can offer you, but wait, there’s more. Many of the services we offer are not relevant to the AA Maps website. Of course there is also the AA Maps Bizlocator, which not only gives you a free map and directions from your company web page, but also lists it with car navigation brands so people in their cars can find their way to you. . We have lots of other services, so if it’s to do with location and you have a need, please feel free to ask us any time.

For more information about GeoSmart, please go to our Home Page. For AA Maps, click here.

This blog is offered as an interactive comunication, so please feel free to comment or make suggestions here as well. We welcome your feedback.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, driving, driving directions, gps, maps, navman, new zealand, optmisation, real time traffic, route optimisation, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Best Car Navigation Directions

Every now and then I hear a story about someone who feels that their car navigation device is not giving them an appropriate route and telling them to turn the car around at the earliest convenience.

These days most car navigation devices are so intuitive that nobody reads the manuals. They charge the device up, stick it on the windscreen and get driving. In fact that is pretty much what brands like TomTom encourage you to do. They do also encourage you to go to TomTom Home via your PC and the Internet to download the latest map as well as the current configuration of the satellites so that you get a quick connection in the car. But this is not what I am writing about.

If you buy a new car navigation device using our maps (and given that we have 93% marketshare in the industry, in most cases it is our maps) you can pretty much rely on them being accurate.

There are 2 main reasons why people don’t always get the result they expected.

First of all you can program the way your navigation device gives you directions. Depending on the brand and model, you actually have the ability to influence the way the device works. For example:

  • By default your GPS unit is programmed to navigate via the ‘Fastest Route’. The way that works is that it will have a preference for the higher road classes, i.e. main roads, motorways, expressways and so on. The first reason for that is that major roads are designed for faster throughput. Often the speed limit is higher so you can drive faster. That means that if you can get to your destination by parallel roads such as Great South Rd in Auckland and Manukau and the Southern Motorway, the Southern Motorway will usually be much faster.
  • You can program your car navigation device to drive by the ‘Shortest Route.’ Now it will compute your route solely on driving distance. In some areas this may be quicker, for example many rural roads in the Waikato are long straight roads and in many cases have very little traffic. This could make the journey faster, but this is local knowledge. In urban areas taking the shortest route may well mean getting stuck at compulsory ‘Stop’ or ‘Give Way’ signs at the major roads while the traffic using the ‘Fastest Route’ zips past in front of you while you are waiting.
  • Some devices, such as some of the Navman models allow you to use a ‘slider’ function which allows you to weight the routing style to a balance that you like. This is complex and unless you know what you are doing, I would stick with ‘Fastest’ and only change to ‘Shortest’ where you are pretty certain it will get you there on time.
  • Another factor is local knowledge. When you commute or go to certain places regularly, you will have learned about the odd bottleneck which doesn’t conform to the general rules. The GPS unit is a computer and designed to work within a set framework and a local bottleneck does not come into the equation, yet. So the best scenario is to use a combination of your local knowledge and the instructions from your nav unit.
  • Some devices have a lot more functionality. For example they might let you avoid main roads or motorways, avoid toll roads or gravel roads and so on. If you spend a lot of time driving to unfamiliar places, it really is worth having a look through all the menu options to see what you can do.
  • There are many other levels of information in your device including a large file of Points of Interest. These include everything from your favourite brand of petrol, ATM, accomodation or food, as well as public toilets, boat ramps and pretty much everything you could wish to drive to including emergancy locations such as hospitals, accident & emergancy. You can look for these closest to the car or near your destination.

In summary, what you have is a highly sophisticated computer and like most computer programs, most people only use a small percentage of its functionality. I recommend that you start using it on ‘Fastest Routing’ until you are familiar with how it works. Try ‘shortest’ when you are not in a hurry, or when you are travelling short distances. Then either read the manual or go through the set up screens and check out all the other great functionality your device has to offer. You will be pleased that you did.

September 22, 2008 Posted by | car navigation, driving, driving directions, gps, maps, navman, new zealand, satnav, tomtom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment