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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 Create a LBS Application Part Two

One of the key things people want in an LBS application is to be able to find Points of Interest (POI) including geographical, community and business POI.

GeoSmart has collected and continues to collect information about all the places that people would like to visit, and unlike other databases, includes a lot of information that has importance but isn’t necessarily business related. For example beaches and bays, public toilets, boat ramps, parks etc.

Our latest service is called the Point of Interest (POI) Web Service V2. We have full time staff focussed not only on collecting quality spatial information about places you might want to find for an LBS Service or Application, but also making sure that it is current. Where relevant we use ANZSIC Codes which are a standard supported by the NZ and Australian Governments.  These offer a layer of categories from high level to more specific, so you can look at food and beverage or Italian Restaurants at either end. We have a browser tool to help you find the correct category here.

Our comprehensive database which is used in various forms and subsets on websites such as AA Maps, Bayleys, Winejobs Online and many other sites has a wide range of POI. These include shops, petrol stations, banks, ATMs, schools and where relevant, make sure you get to the right place at the Point of Interest. For example if you are going to a hospital, you probably want the Accident & Emergency entrance. If you are going to the golf course or a school, you want the official entrance and so on.  Our data, where relevant includes information such as contact details.

The POI Web Service can also be used for geocoding street addresses in order to display them on a map, using our geotagged web map tiles, which can be used on a mobile or normal PC browser. We have a comprehensive database of New Zealand street addresses, which you can try out on the AA Maps website, using our autocompleter.

The range of parameters are wide and varied and you can find more information in the Developer Page.

A key commonality in successful LBS applications overseas is the ability to find the service you are looking for nearby. For example, you are in the city and want to find a nearby cafe for some lunch. The POI web service would let you specify how close you want to find one and even give them to you in order starting with the closest to you. Our POI database is also used in products such as TomTom and Navman car navigation devices.

Because the database is very comprehensive and constantly growing and being validated, you can pretty much develop your application and populate it with our data and be up and running in no time.

Another service that we offer in conjunction with the NZ Automobile Association is the AA Maps Bizlocator. This is a free service which allows any New Zealand business to register their location with us and at the same time get a free web map to put on their website to show people where their office, shop or other business location is, assign it to ANZSIC Categories and then be available for addition to our POI database, all for free. The only condition is you have to go online at least once a year to confirm that your data is current. Once the map is up, you can even get and print turn by turn driving directions from anywhere in NZ and print them neatly on A4 paper. All for free. For more information on that please go to this page, where you can set up an account and ‘Add Your Business’.

bizlocator

This is part two of a series of blogs on tools for LBS applications. Please feel free to comment or leave questions on this blog.

Why not add this blog to your RSS Feed:)

April 2, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, cartography, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, social networking, tomtom, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What 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