GeoSmart Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Gamification, Sustainability and Feeding a Local Community

Designers Chacha Sikes and programmer Anselm Hook created an exciting online application during the Creative Currency hackathon in San Francisco recently. Called Lemonopoly, the concept is that people can locate lemon trees in their community on a map.

The idea is to involve the community is various ways. It may be to help people look after the trees, to be able to share the fruit with other people in the community or perhaps the opportunity for people to sell their lemons. This could work nicely here with organic fruit in conjunction with Giapo, who would of course pay for them in Giapo dollars that people can redeem for their wonderful ice creams and gelato.

A story in Springwise says “Users score points for their team when they add a tree to the map, add a tree that produces edible fruit, share lemons from a tree they own, offer to teach others how to aid lemon distribution and team up with a grocery willing to sell local fruit. ”

People can also win points by offering services such as picking and pruning, making marmalade etc.

This is a great way for people to be motivated to get more involved in their local community and the gamification aspects make it attractive, tying people in to the concept. We would love to support local initiatives in developing concepts like this using GeoSmart web map and development tools across New Zealand and Australia. We offer free Developer Agreements and flexible commercial models for developers. Something like this would make a brilliant mobile application supporting local communities.

 

Advertisements

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Australia, Gamification, geosmart, gps, location based services, new zealand, Social Media, Sustainability, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harnessing Your Business Data with a Map

There was a very good article on from eMarketer this month about the difficulties for online retailers in accessing, sharing and analysing information about their business. This is something we have found relates to all business, not just online. Business is all about numbers and understanding what your customers want and when. It doesn’t matter if you are a bricks and mortar retailer like the very successful Briscoes, a supermarket chain selling high volume for low margin or a company with a field sales or service workforce. Success comes down to being able to access quality information.

In retail the key information tends to be about stockturn, aged stock, shelf space, gross profit by product and category and so on. Retailers and department heads will have standard exception reports that arrive on their desks, daily, weekly and monthly and they will make their buying and promotional decisions based on these reports.

As per the table, research shows that often data is used for the key purposes of business as usual, but often it is only available to a few people and there is very little use made of information about who the customers are, where they come from, the context in which they do their shopping and much more.

GeoSmart’s BIonaMAP is a tool that can allow companies to visualise more information in a way that allows them to look strategically at location based information about their business. It might be a retail chain deciding where to place their next store, a loyalty program that wants to understand their customer demographics or a sales or divisional manager wanting to create fair and manageable sales territories.

By combining information from the Point of Sale system or the financials with a map, it becomes possible to cut through the clutter and see the big picture. BIonaMAP is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. What that effectively means is that all you need in order to use it is a web browser and an Internet connection. You don’t need to install any software.

Now you can share information with whoever needs it, management,sales and marketing, business partners and suppliers. It might be about where your customers live or work, which ones use one of your products but not another. It might be customers within a certain distance from a store or using demographics to decide where best to place your next store. The potential is limited by your imagination and currently to within Australia and New Zealand. Effectively anything that has a location element to it and where data can be exported as a CSV file from your financials, CRM or other application can be interrogated within BIonaMAP.

Do you suffer from death by spreadsheet or wish you could see the big picture, large corporate, franchise or SME, we would like to talk to you about how to harness your business data and increase your productivity and profit.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, geosmart, GIS, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, sales territory, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Business Intelligence for Security and Alarm Companies

I just read a story about an application in the US which I posted on our Facebook Page about an alarm company which is providing an application for people who use their home alarm systems, which uses geofences (a line around an area, such as your property)  drawn with a mouse on a map to send a notification to people’s mobiles when they have left home, but haven’t set the alarm.

Of course the first thing I thought of was why didn’t someone in New Zealand think of that. The answer is probably that alarm and security companies in New Zealand are probably too focussed on BAU (Business As Usual) although I’d love to be proved wrong.

Of course GeoSmart has the technology to enable a solution like this. It would be easy to do and could be a huge value add to the purchase of a home burglar alarm. I’d probably go a step further and enable the possibility of arming the alarm remotely when you realise you have dones this and you have already left, or the ability to disarm it if you have someone at home that doesn’t have the code and has just set the alarm off.

I had previously thought that the security industry could use our BIonaMAP application as well, but have focussed on industries where we already have client demand. As you can see on the web page above, BIonaMAP allows you to see your customer locations on a map and run queries from your business data and view it on a map. This could include:

  • Show all customers on a map who have a particular type of alarm
  • Show all customers whose alarm needs a preventative maintenance visit
  • Show all customers who hasn’t ad a visit or sales call within a certain period of time
  • Show all customers in an area by the number of security guard visits
  • Show scheduled visits by security guard run on different nights of the week, different staff in different colours
  • Show results of sales calls including yes, no, maybe or by competitor brand
  • Show domestic clients by demographic
  • Find new clients by demographic statistics e.g. household income right down to street addresses within a mesh block

As an example, this picture illustrates using BIonaMAP to find areas where the people have lived in their homes for between 5 and 9 years AND have a household income of over $80,000 p.a. which could possibly be a good target market to purchase monitored home burglar alarms. BIonaMAP can even provide street addresses for the houses within those shaded areas.

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, geosmart, GIS, iphone, Mapping Applications, new zealand, sales territory, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Trust Car Navigation?

This is a subject that comes up frequently in discussions and one that we all wonder about from time to time. We have been in the car navigation business since it started in New Zealand, first working with Navman and then over the years supporting and providing map data to most (not all) brands, where data accuracy is key. I won’t belabour the point that GeoSmart is the only country that continually drives all of New Zealand in our RapidcV mapping car.

If you follow the link above you will see the car not only has many sensors on it, but it also has a pile of cameras. The link explains more about the data the car collects.

In Auckland we have a lab full of specialists in a variety of areas including database, cartography, applications development and more. They source data from a wide range of sources including of course the car, data from central and local government agencies, road transport companies, AA members and the public. They collect, validate and manage data all year round and prepare it for quarterly updates, compile it into various formats for different clients and then our database team uses a variety of Quality Assurance tests for up to a month to try to break the data, in effect to make sure it is as near as possible to bulletproof. Then every quarter we ship the updates to several car navigation companies including of course Navman and TomTom.

The data doesn’t just include exactly where the road is, but also changes to speed zones (to around 10 metres accuracy), roundabouts, traffic lights,road realignments, subdivision updates and much more. Some examples in recent updates include things like the Victoria Park changes including the soutbound viaduct and the northbound tunnel, the Newmarket Switch. It includes lane data and a huge range of Points of Interest from dump sites for campervans and public rest areas through to a wide range of business and recreational locations.

So back to the first question. Can you trust car navigation?

The first answer is whilst our data is 100% driven, validated and mapped, map data is constantly changing and we can’t guarantee the exact completeness at any point in time. We provide an update every 3 months and one of the things you need to consider is how up to date your map data is. If your car nav application uses GeoSmart map data, then they have the latest data and most of them offer free map update deals when you buy a new unit and also ongoing subscriptions to keep your map data current. This is very important.

The image here shows the changes to the Victoria Park Viaduct. If you have old maps, there is every possibility that if you are heading south, your navigation will give you misleading directions based on the old road configuration. For example if you have old maps in your car navigation and are heading to SH16 from the Harbour Bridge, you could be told to keep right then keep left. This should see you on the right hand viaduct which does not provide access to State Highway 16. Now you will have a detour to make, trying to work out how to get back on route. This raises one very important point, you must use your navigation as an aid, in conjunction with what you see outside, while you are driving. If your instructions don’t make perfect sense then don’t follow them. We hear stories of people being told to turn into a canal in Berlin, or wedging their trucks between ancient buildings in Britain. Some common sense would have avoided those incidents.

Assuming you have GeoSmart Maps in your car navigation system and use common sense, then the answer is, yes you can trust your car navigation system. I have been driving with car nav for over 7 years now and I continue to be surprised that there are times when I think the navigation instructions are wrong, (I believe I also ave a very good sense of direction) and the nav found better ways for me to get from A to B even in areas I know pretty well.

Another major factor to consider with car navigation is real time traffic and a number of brands now offer this as a feature. Following is a link to a TV3 experiment where 3 journalists drove from West Auckland to the TV studio. One used TomTom car navigation with HD Traffic (using AA Traffic by GeoSmart), one took the route the locals took and the other followed Google Maps directions. Watch this link to see what happened. I think it proves the point that you can trust quality car navigation devices that have the best current map data.

We welcome your feedback.

March 5, 2012 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, navman, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sustainability Generates Profit in the Transport Industry in New Zealand

This month I had the pleasure of presenting to the New Zealand Freight Summit at Auckland University to a diverse group of people from all facets of the transport industry. There were a number of common threads and one of them was sustainability. This is a word that is bandied around a lot, together with concepts like carbon emission trading and taxes, but I wonder how seriously a lot of companies are taking it.

One motivator is compliance. Government departments and many corporates today have KPI’s which require that they do business with companies who have sustainability policies and practices. We have responded to a number of tenders recently which have asked us to specify what sustainability practices we have put in place.

I have read many articles that say that companies which have sustainability practices are more profitable than those that don’t. Obviously the above is one good reason, effectively there are contracts they won’t win simply based on the policy.

There are of course other good reasons that also hit the bottom line. The most obvious one is the rising price of oil. If you use tools such as Route Optimisation and Business Intelligence, you can potentially do more work whilst driving shorter times and distance. That means reduced running costs, reduced maintenance costs, saved time which potentially means being able to do more work in the same amount of time and bottom line increase in profit. Whether your fleet is one vehicle or hundreds, there are savings to be made and they are easy to achieve.

Wellington Traffic 28 February 2012 1:15PM

I really enjoyed showing people AA Traffic by GeoSmart. Many of the delegates were not aware that we have real time traffic congestion information covering virtually all arterial roads and highways throughout New Zealand and Australia. There will be some announcements about this in the very near future. If you are a transport operator, how would you like to be able to see exactly where the congestion is in real time and on the same map, see your vehicle fleet?

Does traffic congestion cost your company by not letting your vehicles get where they want to be on time? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a birds eye of what was going on in real time 24/7? What would that mean to your business? We can help you with that.

Utilising technologies like this can help your company to focus on reducing overheads when the economy is tight and allows you to tell the market that you have sustainability practices, not just policies. Of course in doing so, you are actually taking practical steps to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and doing something good for your country and the planet.

Want to know more about how you can use these technologies in your business? We’d love to talk with you. Contact us today.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, route optimisation, territory management, Traffic, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How we are helping the future greening of New Zealand

A couple of statements by David J. LePoire drawn from his essay “Beyond (Conventional) Renewable Energy?” caught my eye this morning. He said that “If energy use had grown as fast as the economy, the United States would be using an estimated 60% more energy than it does now. We’ve improved energy use in buildings, electrical appliances, cars and industrial processes. These applications are often motivated by cost savings.” There are often stories about how companies who focus on sustainability in a concerted way will become more profitable as a result, but often there is little information on where the increased profitability will come from.

There has been a lot of discussion about how green New Zealand really is and which initiatives are going to help us go forward in the way I believe most Kiwis want toThe elections are close and the parties are all telling us what their policies are going to be.

Meanwhile there are many companies who are just working business as usual with an eye to a better future. GeoSmart is one of those companies. So what are we doing?

First, we have driven every road in New Zealand for many years, but in the last few years we have been driving with phenomenal technology put together in New Zealand by Kiwis, which allows us to map New Zealand roads to sub 1 metre accuracy even when there is GPS shadow or at times (not uncommon particularly in the South Island) where there is no GPS sugnal available at all for periods of time. Tests show that we tend to be accurate to around 15cm which is as good as I believe you can get without having surveyors and laser theodolites on the ground.

This in itself means that we are able to provide highly accurate data to users of our routing web services, such as AA Maps and mobile applications such as Rugby2GO. It means that people will not be sent up paper roads that don’t exist, confirms speed zones and intersection controls and other information that doesn’t always get provided to us by the authorities.

Quality routing means that people can get the best routing information to meet their needs. For example the shortest route is often not the fastest.

We also collect road inclinometer. That is the rate of incline on hills, of which we of course have many in New Zealand. Our car navigation clients are getting more involved in eco-routing which means you can choose the route which will consume the least fuel. That means that effectively, irrespective of what type of car you drive, you can save money while also helping to save our environment.

We are also collecting data about the camber or angle of the corners. Because of the volatile nature of our country with frequent earthquakes, floods and slips, geothermal activity, the condition of corners may change. When a corner changes and noone knows about it, this can be the cause of serious accidents, such as with large trucks and trailors who may be obeying the speed advisory signs, but the conditions have changed since they were set. We are working with sophisticated Fleet Management companies who are going to use this data, combined with their knowledge of their clients’ vehicle set ups, roll over specifications and load information to alert drivers that they may be going too fast for the conditions of the road. This can save insurance conmpanies millions of dollars, not to mention reducing the inconvenience of motorists having to deal with travel delays as the incidents are examined and detours put in place.

Another major area for us is real time traffic. You are probably aware that we built and maintain the AA Roadwatch website and and provide services including real time accident, incident and congestion data throughout New Zealand and Australia to major car navigation brands. AA Spokesperson Simon Lambourne was quoted in an article in the NZ Herald earlier this week that studies have shown that “when 10 per cent of drivers use real-time traffic information to avoid jams, journey times drop 5 per cent for everyone.” Find out more about AA Traffic by GeoSmart here.

Route optimisation is becoming more important. We have written a number of blogs on this topic and more and more companies are coming to us to use this service and variations of it. Essentially  if a person has a number of sites to stop at during a day’s work, our SaaS application Route2GO Lite geocodes and calculates the best order to make those visits in, to drive the least amount of time via the most efficient route. This results in increased productivity and reduced overheads. It is also sustainable. Are you able to tell your clients that your business uses technology to benefit the environment as well as the company’s bottom line and provide better service to boot?

Talk to us about how we can help you become more sustainable whilst increasing profit.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Australia, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, driving directions, geosmart, gps, Mapping Applications, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, SaaS, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Location is Going Places

Obviously we would love to be writing more blogs about how our clients and partners are writing location-based apps using GeoSmart Maps API’s and Web Services and how we are helping the discover new ways to use location for proximity based marketing, location-based games (read future proximity based marketing), location-based education and  much more.The good news is that there are many new projects happening and more announcements to come next week from our camp.

There are companies who automatically go to global map providers because they perceive there is no difference and maps are pretty much all the same. To those people I say, go and have a look at the new Upper Harbour Motorway on AA Maps (one of our clients) using GeoSmart Maps and then check any other map provider on the web or on a mobile application. It’s only one of many locations we update as they happen because we are local and we care about providing the best data to our clients and to New Zealand motorists, but it is pretty major if you travel between west and north Auckland.

So this blog is for those of you who are wanting to develop applications using quality maps and location-based data, because we want to keep you informed and share great ideas with you and help you achieve your goals, whatever your business models and budgets may be.

One of the areas that I think is huge is proximity based marketing. If you are running loyalty programs, you really need to think about what you are doing. If they are working well, then we say they could be working much better, if they are not performing the way you would like, you should talk to us about how we can help, because location is our bread and butter.

As we have discussed before, the marriage of social media and location is really going places. I’d like to mention a couple of recent developments relevant to the many blogs here.

Foursquare

Now obviously Foursquare is global and needs more than the excellent New Zealand and Australian Maps we provide, but they are really showing the way to develop successful check in software. Want to know more about check ins and Foursquare have a look at more of the blogs on this site.

One of the things that people have been asking about is how to push a message to people based on their proximity. In effect, rather than have people open up Foursquare and look for deals and promotions near you, what people have been asking me about almost daily is how do we push an alert to people, rather than have them stumble on opportunities.

Now Foursquare has their own very popular application and I hope to hear that their latest announcement appears on their own application as well as the API’s they offer to developers. The Foursquare global hackathon starts tomorrow and it has een whispered on many sites around the world that one of the new features to be launched there is a Push API.

What does this mean? Well effectively it is an opportunity for developers to look at ways to send push messages to people using their applications using the Foursquare API’s. During the hackathon there will be competitions to see who can come up with the best applications using this functionality over the week. It could be almost anything and I’m hoping that this will provide our local New Zealand developers with ideas as to what they can do using these concepts. A few ideas being floated include:

  • Your mobile shopping list reminds you that you haven’t bought the milk and you are passing your local grocery store.
  • You are at a bar or restaurant and your app tells you that you have friends nearby. You can notify them where you are and get them to join you.
  • Your restaurant has empty seats and you have loyalty customers nearby, send them an invitation with tonight’s specials
  • Your loyalty card has double points today and you are about to pass your favourite Petrol Station, DIY, Clothing, Consumer Electronics store

Obviously we have much cooler ideas in our treasure chest to share with our clients, but you get the idea I hope. This is one of the missing links and is going to turn the concept of check-ins on its ear in my humble opinion. Now you don’t need to use Foursquare for this, although I’m not saying you shouldn’t. Personally I’d like to see these sorts of things being developed and proven locally in the way good Kiwi entrepreneurs do, with support from GeoSmart and then shipped overseas generating export revenues.

We have clever and passionate people here and sometimes it frustrates me that companies developing applications around locality instantly go to American or other map providers who aren’t passionate about New Zealand aren’t keeping their maps up to date and don’t have local resources to help. OK, I’m off my soap box people.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, channel partner, Check Ins, competition, competitions, foursquare, geosmart, gps, ICT, Indoor Navigation, iphone, lbs, lbs games, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Social Media, social networking, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GPS Car Navigation for Rugby Tourists to New Zealand with Global iPhone and iPad First

There’s a world championship event going on in New Zealand right now with rugby teams competing for a major cup. Many of the tourists who have arrived in New Zealand or are coming over for the rugby matches have iPhones and or iPads. They may be staying in Auckland or the region the national team they are supporting is based and don’t want to buy a complete car navigation device or a map set for the whole country when they are only staying for days or weeks.

The thing with the iPhone or iPad is that it is one of those ubiquitous devices that you keep on your person and navigation isn’t necessarily just about being a driver. It might be about being confident that the way the taxi is taking you is the quickest, or how do I get to the Fan Zone or Rugby Stadium or perhaps one of the REAL NZ Festival events.

MetroView Systems Pty Limited from Australia has come up with an excellent solution using GeoSmart car navigation maps and Points of Interest data, called MetroView NZ City. Because they are a local (Australasian) company, they are nimble and were able to come up with a product well suited for the rugby tourist, or in fact any tourist visiting New Zealand. Of course there are many Kiwis who don’t need all of New Zealand either, but a real key opportunity is that if you are only coming over for days or weeks. NZ$9.95 for true GPS car navigation on a device you already own is great value. That’s less than the price of 3 cups of coffee!

The application, which you can buy from the Apple Appstore has all the Points of Interest a rugby fan is looking for, but lots of great features around the iPhone and iPad as well. For example you can listen to and control your music and podcasts right from within the application using the iPad/iPhone button. If you have appointments (with an address)  in your mobile’s calendar, you can navigate directly to them, the same applies to your contacts list. Your music will automatically mute if there is a navigation instruction.

It is likely that the concept of buying maps for a single city will become more common in other countries but you saw it here first in New Zealand with GeoSmart data and MetroView software. Of course it isn’t just about the rugby, it is full car navigation with the features you are used to using. If you are planning a visit to New Zealand and want to find your way around on your iPhone or iPad, check out this product. I think you’ll find it very useful.

And all the best to your team, I hope they do really well, maybe even second if you’re not supporting the All Blacks;p

Metroview NZ City

September 14, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, iphone, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, Rugby, satnav, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost In a Box is Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location and Shopping – Tomorrow Becomes Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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