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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

Adding Game Mechanics and Location To Loyalty Cards

Following on from my last blog Adding Location to Loyalty Cards, an area that I feel is really important is game mechanics. One of the problems with loyalty cards is that they are inherently boring and there are lots of them. We live in a world of constant distraction and we want instant gratification. However that gratification doesn’t have to be a free air ticket or turbo food processor with Ginzu knives. It can be as simple as points or recognition and applications today need to evolve as the public become more tech savvy on their mobiles.

What is game mechanics and how is it relevant? Playing games is part of who we human animals are. Games are a natural part of entertainment and education, whether it is a child doing its first jigsaw puzzle, or the All Blacks heading into a rugby match at that international world competition for a cup. Yes, ultimately no matter how passionate we are about success, Graham Henry and the NZRFU themselves said “It’s just a game.”

Games are immensely popular and computer and mobile  offers massive revenue potential. Gartner predicts that the global video game industry on its own will generate revenues of over US$112 billion by 2015. That doesn’t even take into consideration mobile. Application developers have been all over Facebook, now on Google+ and on devices such as iPhone, iPad and Android and now developers of smart location based games and marketing applications are heading the same way.

Developers are looking to use our interest and passion for playing games to influence the behaviour of consumers and it is working. One obvious area is in the retail, travel, tourism, attraction, hospitality and entertainment industries. Of course as I have outlined in many recent blogs, loyalty is a key aspect that all of these industries are looking for, or in other words, profitable repeat business.

So what aspects should a loyalty application include. A major one is achievements. I’ve talked about reward and that rewards don’t have to be tangible items. A reward can be points such as the points used by Foursquare when you check into a location. They also have badges and mayorships which are either the reward itself or their may be special deals or offers made to those people who come in regularly. The new Tap City game allows you to earn virtual dollars for checking in. One of the great things about group loyalty operations is the ability to cross market, for example using a passport concept where the more locations you check in to, the more rewards you get.

The appointment dynamic is extremely powerful. This is where you want people to do something at either a predetermined time or an ad hoc time. For example a restaurant that is always quiet between 3PM and 5PM on a particular day of the week might offer incentives within the application to get more business at that time of day. The concept I like the most, is pushing deals when you have inventory you want to use in a hurry. An example might be the special of the day in a restaurant where you haven’t sold as much as you catered for. The classic story I often use of a jet boat that is going out in 20 minutes with 5 empty seats. This is a perfect opportunity to push a deal to people who are close by and have opted in to be offered deals. The cost differential between having 4 or 9 passengers is negligible but the fun and entertainment factor of 9 people screaming as the boat does a 360 degree spin is significantly greater for all, including the 4 who paid full price. There is also a potential dynamic of more people seeing them having fun and therefore wanting to have a go themselves. The same could apply to any attraction, like the luges in Auckland and Queenstown.

Queenstown Luge

I can come up with a hundred concepts for different types of locations for cafe’s, restaurants, attractions, theatres, travel, accommodation, entertainment, retail, sport, tourism and so can you.

I will continue this blog next week with more thoughts on game mechanics or gamification that you might like to consider in your location based application. Remember, GeoSmart has all the data and tools you ned to make these ideas possible and whilst we don’t develop these sorts of applications ourselves, we have many partners who are keen to assist you if you want to take advantage of the opportunities now possible because of the large number of people using location aware mobiles. The question is how much extra business would you like?

Maybe you would like to join the discussion and leave a comment of your own to add to the mix?

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Check Ins, foursquare, geosmart, iphone, lbs games, location based services, Mapping Applications, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, Retail Profit, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Sales, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Location in Loyalty Cards

Loyalty cards haven’t fundamentally changed the way they do business for many years. There are the fans and the people who actively look for deals, but most of the people we have spoken to recently have said that the time they realise there is an opportunity is when they are at the checkout and the cashier asks if they have their Fly Buys or whatever card. This obviously is not generating increased sales or revenue.

There are huge opportunities for loyalty cards to exploit location with the large number of people now using Smartphones fitted with GPS. Effectively a Smartphone application can therefore identify when a card holder is near a store or participating retailer and can potentially be offered a deal using push technology. We are hugely spoiled for choice these days as retailers flock near each other to try to win your business. For example, if you go to AA Maps and do a search for ‘Hardware Albany’ you will come up with 48 results! That’s a huge range of options in one area within around a 5km radius.

Albany Homes Owner Occupied 70% or Over

A large number of these retailers spend a lot of money on advertising in newspapers, magazines, letter box drops, eDm’s and much more. Many of them are involved in loyalty card programs which provide additional opportunities for targeted marketing. These are all very expensive media and the approach uses often sophisticated targetting using demographics tools, such as GeoSmart’s BIonaMap discussed in a number of our blogs such as this one using demographics for a lawn mowing franchise. By understanding what your target market is, you can identify the best place to locate your store and which areas are best for letter box marketing. Of course success requires that your target market is open to buy and looking for your product.

If a consumer is looking for a lawn mower and your mailer arrives in their letter box, there is the potential that they will visit your store, but how often do they buy lawn mowers and how often do they read your mail drop? The example illustrated here shows homes where the owner occupancy is 70% or greater, a perfect target for DIY sales using BIonaMAP from GeoSmart.

In coming blogs I will post examples of how a loyalty card smartphone application using GPS location could integrate with retail Point of Sale systems, inventory management and really understand what a customer is looking for, sending meaningful offers to consumers when they are looking for product and are in proximity. If you make things easy for customers and have a meaningful relationship with you, they will buy your products over your competitors products, but to effectively do that, you (your technology systems) really do need to understand who your customers are and what their needs and interests are. They want to give you their money and it isn’t necessarily about special pricing.

Where should you start? Probably by asking what your loyalty card company is doing about proximity based marketing and check ins (which we have discussed frequently on this blog). GeoSmart is keen to support local loyalty card companies and application developers and we are convinced that there are huge opportunities to really bring in serious retail profits and the opportunity to develop genuine loyalty relationships. Who wants an unfair advantage? If that’s you, why not contact us?

Feel free to ask questions here or to leave a comment. Bookmark this page for upcoming blogs on how a loyalty card company can use this technology to help their partners win more business.

September 19, 2011 Posted by | Business Analytics, Check Ins, geosmart, gps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check Ins

We were at the Auckland ICT meeting a couple of night’s ago and it was interesting to corroborate our experience in the field with associates that there is both a chasm between people in the ICT industry and even their own friends and family in retail and other bricks and mortar industry when it comes to use of social media and proximity based marketing.

A couple of us presented at the Mobile Marketing Forum last month and felt that we were preaching to the converted and disappointed that only 4 bricks and mortar companies attended the conference when they were potentially the ones with the most to gain from being there. Generally what we found was that businesses either didn’t have a clue what checking in means, or if they did, don’t make the time to understand and utilise what could be a much better tool for them than dumping stock on daily deal type sites.

So here is a tiny bit of Check In 101:

Fundamentally the concept of checking in is to use a mobile application on a smart phone that is location aware, such as Foursquare, to register that the user is at a particular location such as a landmark or a business / shop. The location is verified using GPS or GPS assisted technology in the mobile. There are gaming elements such as badges or points and often tangible rewards such as discounts. People that visit a particular location enough times gain the title of Mayor of that location.

What is interesting and most retail business operators aren’t aware of is that this takes place, whether or not they are personally involved, which means people are entering their businesses and creating marketing opportunities, but are not being engaged in this medium. Most applications allow people to leave comments or tips, make ‘friends’ who are also allowed to see their location and make recommendations which could be positive, but could also be very negative. This means that even if the proprietor can’t make time to use these tools to engage and attract business, they may be losing business without knowing it as well. A simple comment such as “The toilets are clean here:(” or “The line was so long, I went next door” could cost not only immediate business, but steer people away long into the future.

The applications typically have interfaces to social media applications such as Twitter and Facebook, so the comments, recommendations and otherwise are creating a digital footprint that can be difficult if not impossible to remove.

Recent statistics from Comscore this year suggest that around 16.7 million individual people in the USA checked in to locations using Foursquare and similar applications over the first 3 months. This represents around 7% of the total mobile population. Recent statistics in June 2011 suggest that the UK and Western Europe currently sits at around 5%. That is a lot of people. People just like them may be in the area and walking right past your business.

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Tools, Check Ins, Distribution, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, Mapping Applications, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, ROI, social networking, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossing the Chasm with Mobile Marketing

Location is everywhere. A large number of people now use mobile phones which are location aware through a number of technologies, most well known are GPS and GPS Assist. Some location based technologies such as car navigation are now well accepted, so the market has a general understanding of the concepts.
There is a chasm between people who use this technology regularly because they are in key industries where the applications have been adopted as a matter of course such as people in ICT and Marketing. Many bricks and mortar businesses such as retail, hospitality and tourism are only barely aware that these technologies exist.
Effective use of location or proximity based marketing solutions can have a significant impact on the profitability of many bricks and mortar companies who not only have to compete with each other, but also with Internet based retailers and wholesalers.
There are many existing applications such as Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla and more which can be used by these businesses, however most business managers are unaware of the technologies, intimidated by them and to busy working in their businesses instead of on them. This presents significant opportunities for developers and the businesses themselves to take an early adopter advantage. It also displays a need for market education as to the technology and how to use it in each unique business. GeoSmart of course has web services and API’s that developers can use to create their own apps, particularly in New Zealand and Australia.

I will be exploring these issues over the coming weeks on this blog. Please bookmark or use the RSS feed if this is of interest to you.

July 4, 2011 Posted by | Australia, Australia Maps, car navigation, driving, driving directions, education, geosmart, gps, iphone, lbs, location based services, Mapping Applications, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, software, tomtom | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the best Car Nav product for New Zealand

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

AA Traffic Alerts on Car Nav

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll leave you with 4 points:

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

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

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

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

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

Air New Zealand Freeway Picks GeoSmart Maps

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

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

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

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

TomTom now has a Kiwi Voice

Over the years many people have mentioned that they wish car navigation devices had a Kiwi accent that they can relate to.  We told you in our September blog that TomTom was running a competition to find that special iconic voice. Well it’s a done deal as told in this NZ Herald article. Ben Harper (no not the musician) has won himself a new Suzuki Swift RS and a new TomTom. We are told that you will be able to download his voice in time for your Christmas road trip.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | car navigation, competition, competitions, driving directions, geosmart, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be the Kiwi Voice of TomTom

TomTom New Zealand is running a very cool competition together with The Edge radio station. Have you ever thought about what you would say if you could control the voice on your nav unit. Move over John Cleese and Homer Simpson bro, it’s time for a Kiwi voice.

Over the next few weeks you have the opportunity to enter a competition which will decide not only whose voice will end up as the voice of New Ziilund, but every day someone will win a TomTom and the grand prize winner will win a Suzuki Swift. You can listen to the entries on The Edge competition page, such as yesterday’s TomTom winner “Sweet As” and the Suzuki is being kitted up as a recording studio and doing a road trip around New Zealand where you can meet it and record your TomTom GPS voice.

The TomTom road trip starts in Invercargill on Monday 4 October and works its way up to Northland on 15 October. You can of course also enter online.

So put on your best Kiwi accent and join the fun.

Carl Fletcher and Vaughan Smith, hosts of The EDGE Fletch & Vaughan show, have already put their hands up to potentially become voices and are excited to find the person to be the new TomTom GPS voice of New Zealand.

“I mean imagine being THE voice that is chosen as most iconically Kiwi, how much of an ego boost is that? Your voice could be the voice that represents all Kiwis and is used worldwide by anyone with a TomTom GPS.  We have so many unique sayings that we can throw in there as well to really Kiwi it up, I mean there’s ‘sweet as bro,’ ‘choice eh’…and then the classics like ‘yeah yeah…nah’.  It’s going to be an epic campaign, with an epic prize to boot,” says Fletch.

Of course TomTom use GeoSmart Maps on their systems, because they have to have the best:)

September 29, 2010 Posted by | car navigation, competition, competitions, driving directions, geosmart, gps, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup in Auckland is just over a year away and GeoSmart is looking forward to the opportunities that come with it. As New Zealand’s premier location-based services (Mapping) company there are many areas that we will be looking at. These include:

  • Cartography. We produce many printed maps. These include map books for Wises and the NZ Automobile Association, as well as several travel atlas products for various organisations such as the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, which includes locations of Points of Interest of unique interest. We also produce custom maps for many organisations ranging from hotels to regional tourism organisations.
  • Car Navigation. GeoSmart is the provider of map data and Points of Interest for the leading brands including Navman and TomTom. Many people coming from overseas will be able to use our map data to find the venues, accommodation, attractions, parking, bars and much more for the Rugby World Cup, making their trip stress free. We also now offer real time traffic to car navigation which would be great if you are trying to get to a venue close to kick off.
  • Real Time Traffic. We built and manage the new AA Traffic service. This service provides information on traffic incidents that might interfere with people getting to the match on time.  We do this with a number of services including subscription alerts via Email and Text Messaging, which can be found on the AA Traffic website. Traffic is also shown on other AA websites, Roadwatch and AA Maps. Real Time Traffic is also of course available on your car navigation product such as with Navman.
  • AA Maps website. This website is the perfect site for local and overseas travellers. A significant proportion of web traffic to AA’s websites come from overseas and this includes AA Maps. People are guided here with links from affiliated motoring associations around the world as well as people looking for services such as driving directions. This is a great site for people planning their routes, looking for other things to do while they are travelling, where to stay, where to eat and drink and where to have some fun and adventure.
  • Mobile Applications / Location Based Services. We are working with several companies who are developing applications for smartphones such as iPhone and Android. When your mobile knows where it is, it becomes easy to use GeoSmart’s highly accurate data about New Zealand roads and points of interest to add value to people touring New Zealand following the rugby tournament.
  • Web Mapping. Many companies use GeoSmart’s web mapping tools in their custom environments. Examples may be found on our home page. If you are looking to add maps, points of interest and turn by turn directions to your site, we would love to chat with you about how we can help.
  • Carbon Friendly. This has become a very important topic and one that we are committed to supporting. We are able to support concepts such as Eco-Routing, in effect, finding the route that uses the least fuel and carbon waste. Our RAPIDcV has been continuing to drive all of New Zealand at around 15cm accuracy, not only getting an accurate road centreline but also measuring the road’s inclination and even the camber of corners on the road. This highly accurate data allows us to support organisations focused on sustainable eco friendly policies.
  • Multi-modal routing. We have been developing solutions supporting the ability to guide people through various means of transport from foot to motorised. This includes situations where one trip might include different forms of transport. Rugby fans might use a combination. For example, they might drive to a carpark, then use public transport, finally walking from there to the match venue via restaurants and bars. Each transport medium has its own set of rules. For example a person walking, doesn’t need to worry about one-way streets and may be able to take advantage of short cuts through arcades etc, to get to their destination.

Whilst the Rugby World Cup may be over a year away, GeoSmart is working closely with our partners to assist them in achieving their goals, through the use of our data, web services and API’s and other products. If you would like more information, you will find our contact details here.

March 7, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, carbon footprint, cartography, driving, driving directions, geosmart, GIS, gps, iphone, lbs, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, real time traffic, route optimisation, Rugby World Cup, satnav, Sport, tomtom, Traffic | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment