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Smartphone Shoppers and Mobile Apps

There was an interesting article in the NZ Herald by Gill South and David Thomas this morning entitled ‘Get The Answers: Businesses can get on board with smartphone shoppers‘. It referenced the annual Mobile Life Study and quotes that this year 33% of Kiwis own smartphones, up from 24% last year, which is a massive increase in the region of 50%, but this year I think the growth will be much higher again.

The article talked about Location Based Services and mCommerce, both topics we frequently discuss and get involved with. It said that New Zealand already use advanced LBS services well ahead of most consumers around the world. This begs the question, what are you doing about it?

If you are in business in New Zealand (or Australia) I recommend you have a look through some of our blogs here about topics such as Proximity Based Marketing, Business intelligence and social networking as a starter, and then contact us. We have a wealth of experience in this area,all the underlying data you need and lots of business partners that can help you. We live and breath location, its who we are. We are local, in your time zone and have the best and most comprehensive data including maps, Points of Interest, routing, real time traffic and of course the important BIonaMAP which is now available and able to assist you in better understanding who your market is and where they live and play.

Location is the next big wave and we have invested in understanding it thoroughly.

 

April 29, 2012 Posted by | Australia, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, geosmart, lbs, location based services, proximity based marketing, social networking | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maps Are Not All Equal

There are reasons why smart car navigation companies use GeoSmart data on their devices. The reasons are that often near enough is not good enough. This week we have seen a good example of this, which was followed up in the news media.

On Wednesday the Otago Daily Times published a story with the headline GPS systems send Peninsula tourists off track. It quoted a Senior Constable who said that tourists were being guided onto paper roads and dirt tracks by car navigation systems and certainly into areas not suitable for most vehicles.

An example given was that people were trying to drive all the way to the seal colony shown on the map here, via Cape Saunders Rd. As you can see on our map, that isn’t possible, but there appears to be a paper road on some car nav products (obviously not using GeoSmart Maps) that say you can.

Because we are the premier supplier of quality car navigation map data for New Zealand, the obvious query came to GeoSmart for some clarification on this. We are the market leader in car navigation in New Zealand because of the quality of data. We have quality data because we are local and because we have invested heavily for over 12 years in having quality data for car navigation. We have a map room full of people who are committed to having up to date information on our maps including eliminating paper roads, maintaining speed zones, current information on Points of Interest, turn restrictions such as 1-way streets, no left turns, median barriers and also what we know as implicit turn restrictions, which is where a large vehicle may not be able to safely complete a turn even if it is legal to do so. As a consequence, brands like TomTom and Navman use our information in order to ensure that their valued users do get quality instructions.

I received a call from the journalist who wrote a follow up story for the NZ Herald with the headline Don’t just go where the GPS says – if it looks like a paddock it probably is one. I explained that when we first decided to become a car navigation map provider, partnering with brands such as Navman, Siemens VDO and BMW, we processed the Government data (which was never designed for guidance) and found that it was not suitable for car navigation. There were huge numbers of paper roads (roads that have been drafted but not (yet) constructed and situations where entire settlements were 60-80 or more metres away from where the maps said they were.

We then set out to drive every public road in New Zealand, getting accurate data with the technology of the day, eliminating the paper roads and at the same time getting key information such as speed zones, road class, points of interest including things like rest areas, ATM’s, public toilets as well as business, tourism and travel, hospitality, sport etc. Today we continue to drive, capturing a road centreline at sub 1 meter accuracy as well as information such as the incline of the road for eco-routing and the angle of the camber on corners for future truck safety systems and of course real time traffic which can be found online at AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and AA Journey Times and is of course used by TomTom and Navman.

A key issue that we have identified in recent times is that a lot of car navigation users don’t realise that they need to update their maps regularly. In New Zealand roads are changing continually. They are road realignments, new motorways, new subdivisions, suburbs and settlements being built all the time. Roundabouts get replaced with traffic lights and traffic lights get replaced with roundabouts and it never ends. GeoSmart does a new update each and every quarter, 4 times a year and they are all significant updates. Just because you have a navigation unit that is only 6 months old, doesn’t mean that it has the latest data. Even if you have just bought a unit brand new, it is worth plugging it in to your computer to see if there is a new map available.

The acid test is www.aamaps.co.nz. This also gets updated every 3 months. If a road or segment is on AA Maps, then it is in our data and will either be in the latest car nav map for the brands that use our data, or is about to be. If it isn’t on AA Maps, then we are probably adding it, but we would love to hear from you just in case. All you need to do is click on the feedback button on the AA Maps web page, select the type of feedback you want to give us and the information will go to the appropriate team member. We are Kiwis, we live here and we take pride in the quality of our data and want you to enjoy your motoring.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, navman, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rocky Year Ahead for Tourism? 10 Ideas

This morning I noted a story in the NZ Herald by Owen Hembry saying that although tourist numbers to New Zealand were up 2.5% at 2.6 million people, the average spend from them was less. It’s a comprehensive story and I recommend clicking on the link above as it is of vital importance to the New Zealand tourist industry. It also reflects international conditions given that many markets are suffering severe economic conditions.

There are many positives to this though and the important thing is to focus on how to maximise the opportunity for our industry. The fact is that more people did come to NZ last year and they did spend $5.6 Billion here including airfares. Not to be sneezed at!

The consideration then is whether you are in the accomodation, attraction, hospitality or any other industry looking for tourism income, what are you going to do to get your share of the money. How are you going to get that extra table turn, higher occupancy rates, more throughput of your services. How are you going to increase the average spend at your property? What are you going to do differently?

We would like to help you with that from a location based services perspective an together with our partners there are many things we can do to help. You will find lots of ideas if you read through some of our past blogs, or you can come and talk to us about your unique business and needs. There are many things we can help with, location based mobile applications and games, cartography, Business Analytics (don’t forget domestic tourists and business travelers who are mostly FIT by nature) and that all business people are also consumers.

There are loads of ideas that you will find in our blogs past and future. If you scroll through the blog home page or search the categories you will find many more ideas. Here are 10 blogs which might give you some ideas. We understand your business and please don’t hesitate to talk to us about your specific environment.

We are a wholly New Zealand owned company offering these services for New Zealand AND Australia. We understand the local markets and care about them because our success comes from yours :

  1. Loyalty Cards and Gamification
  2. Socialisation Game Mechanics of Loyalty Cards
  3. GPS Car Navigation for Rugby Tourists
  4. Location and Shopping
  5. Consumers are checking in to retail stores
  6. Retailers are not flocking into LBS
  7. How to get listed on NZ Car Nav systems
  8. Franchise Territory Mapping
  9. Lost In a Box a successful location based marketing campaign
  10. What Tools do you need to build a location application?

January 22, 2012 Posted by | Business Intelligence, Business Tools, car navigation, cartography, location based services, Marketing, new zealand, Rugby World Cup, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with Increasing Oil Prices for your Company Vehicles

In this morning’s NZ Herald, senior AA Analyst Mark Stockdale was quoted By Mathew Dearnaley as saying that there may be further pressure on petrol prices this week. The article pointed out that only part of the oil price increase has been passed on to consumers and the tense situation in Libya and other parts of the Middle East mean that the barrel price of oil could continue to increase dramatically.

It is clear that we have now well and truly crossed the psychological barrier of $2 per litre of 91 Octane petrol in NZ and I would be surprised if we drop below it again even if Saudi increases their oil production as suggested. AA’s Mark Stockdale made some good suggestions on ways to save fuel, all of which made good sense, especially if you own your vehicle and are paying for the fuel yourself.

I’m not saying they don’t make sense for all vehicles, but if the cost comes from your own back pocket and we have now crossed the psychological $2 barrier companies are also going to feel the pain and need to look at ways of saving money on their vehicle running costs.

You will remember the story of how to cook a frog. In 1869 Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that if you put a frog into a pot of water and heated it very slowly, the frog would not attempt to escape. Why he was doing it was another story which you can read here. The anecdote is important because we haven’t fundamentally changed our driving habits. Many of us have lead feet and as lovers of driving and fast cars, users of air conditioning and other features, we waste a lot of fuel. Perhaps the new price increases will make us jump out of the boiling water and modify our driving behaviour.

Many companies have been driving smart for some time. For example, large commercial fleet companies have been running with Fleet Management solutions using GeoSmart Maps for years. Many get total ROI from being able to claim Road User Charge RUC Rebates, which is being able to prove when they are driving on private roads or property. That means that the added benefits are free. Fleet Management uses technology to monitor many aspects of driver behaviour with a view to being able to improve driver training. For example it can monitor aspects such as harsh acceleration and braking, idling time is another aspect that consumes fuel.

Car Navigation is another tool that has been under rated. But lets look at some facts. If it costs over one dollar per km (before the latest fuel price hikes) to drive a relatively small vehicle (not counting staff costs and other items), what does it cost to run commercial vehicles? Can you afford to pay people to drive in circles looking for their next stop?

A new feature in car navigation that we have blogged about before is AA Real Time Traffic. This is a service that provides real time information advising of accidents, incidents and real time congestion covering all of New Zealand. This service is available on AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and as well as TXT and Email Alerts. What is really exciting is that you can now get this information direct to you car navigation devices including selected models from brands including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, and Pantera. This page shows how it works. If you consider how much time you have spent in congested traffic, wouldn’t it be great if you could be informed about incidents before you get stuck behind them. Note AA Traffic doesn’t just cover State Highways, it covers all arterials as well, so only really leaves out small residential streets. We are now discussing how to get this information into the Fleet Dispatch rooms of freight, distribution and service companies who are managing vehicle fleets and could better manage their operations if they can see their vehicles and the traffic incidents concurrently on the same map.

You may have noticed a number of references to the NZ Automobile Association. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZAA and as such are very much involved in helping NZ motorists, consumer and business and the initiatives in this blog outline many of our activities in this space.

Route Optimisation is another tool that has suddenly gained popularity. GeoSmart has offered these services for around 5 years. In effect the concept is that if you have a number of vehicles, we can tell you what order they should do their stops in, in order to drive the least distance and time. This doesn’t just take the shortest route, it takes into consideration aspects such as which roads have the least number of stops, the speed zones, the angles of corners, turn restrictions and more. It is a complex and involved problem which we have automated into an application that can be run from a web browser on a pay as you go basis. We blogged about this last week when we first heard of the $2 jump.

We made the offer of a fee trial whereby we will use Route2GO for free over up to 5 previous runs to allow you to compare the route driven, with what our recommendations would be. Many of the results have been astounding with time improvements of between half an hour and 2 hours on a run, with significant savings in fuel and other overheads, as well as the ability to do more work in the same day without an increase in fixed overheads. That offer is still available and of course the payback is now significantly increased.

So, if you have company vehicles that are more than just commuters, you may like to contact us and have a chat about how we can help. You can email us for information or a flyer or contact me (Luigi Cappel) direct on 09 9668768. We would love to help you save money, increase productivity and profit and remain competitive in the marketplace. Many companies will be forced to increase their prices and this will of course impact on inflation. On the other hand companies who work smarter could keep their prices the same or in some cases even reduce them. Historically those companies have increased their market share and in some cases taken over weaker competitors who didn’t think smart.

There are a few choices. One of them is to suffer and complain, the better one might be to contact us and see how we or are partner companies can help you prosper despite the difficult times.

I like the saying that there are 3 types of people and businesses. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Which are you?

March 6, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, satnav, software, territory management, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Petrol Price Hikes and Route Optimisation

If you are in business and have a fleet of vehicles on the road, you will be very aware of the increase in the price of petrol. This morning’s story in the NZ Herald Business Section suggests that fuel prices won’t be going down soon. There is of course the tension in the Middle East which has driven oil prices as high as US$103 a barrel and the NZ exchange rate has suffered not only with the Christchurch Earthquake, but also the expectation that the Reserve Bank will cut the cash rate on March 10. This makes our currency less attractive and we have dropped 2 cents against the US dollar in the last month.

One option is to shop around. Cardlink has a website called Pricewatch, which shows what people who have their fuel cards are paying, but of course these are discounted prices. Prices vary around the country, but even then you will struggle to find anything below $2 if you consider $1.999 as being below $2.

The AA Petrol Watch web page suggests that the oil companies have only passed on half their increase in costs, so far. There has also been talk of shielding Christchurch of increases which is great, but of course the rest of us will have to subsidise that.

The problem from a business perspective is that whilst our running costs increase, our clients expect to pay the same or less for our products and services. If your products and services involve distribution, delivery or field work, this becomes a serious problem. This is a problem that GeoSmart may be able to assist with.

Our solution is Route Optimisation. We have a solution called Route2Go, which you may have read about in previous blogs. In simple terms, give us a list of the jobs that a vehicle has to do in a day and our solution will advise you which order to do them in, to drive the least distance and in the shortest time by calculating the fastest route. Even without the price rises in petrol, this is saving clients a lot of cost, but now it is even more attractive.

The best thing is that we offer you the chance to evaluate this product in relation to your unique business for free. As per the PDF which you can download below, if you would like to send us the addresses of 5 existing daily runs (we don’t need to know the names of the companies, or will provide a confidentiality agreement) in the order that they have been done, we will optimise them for free and send you the results.

Route2GO is a Software a a Service (SaaS) application which means there is nothing to install and no set up fee. You simply pay for the number of locations you optimise to. With the results of the free trial, you will be able to see exactly what your savings can be as a result of using the service.

What have you got to lose? Try us now. Please note this service is currently only available in New Zealand.

Route2GO Flyer

P.S. Did I mention green? If you are reducing the distance you drive you are of course also reducing your carbon footprint.

P.P.S. Optimisation can also mean that you can fit more jobs into a day without increasing your fixed overheads.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Tools, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, new zealand, petrol, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, Sales, software, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Maps all Created Equal?

I really enjoyed reading Brian Rudman’s article in this morning’s NZ Herald. It was about Google Maps and the quality of their data in Auckland. Basically it was about the usefulness of Google Maps to help people find their way around, getting walking and driving directions, and most recently the inclusion of information to help people find out which buses to catch and how to get to them using data from ARTA.

I urge you to read the story, because it highlights some interesting points that we often struggle to explain to people.

I’m not knocking Google, I love Google and spend a lot of time using it, as do many of my colleagues. But here’s the thing. Google is a data collection and aggregation tool that enables people to access data from multiple sources and use it for their purposes. In some cases Google creates the data, which includes having people drive vehicles such as the Street View cars to help people make better use of maps.

The problem we frequently have is that people think that, because there are Google Maps and Google is ‘the authority’ then their maps must be the best, or, as people often learn the hard way, that Maps are all pretty much the same.

If that were the case, there would be no need for GeoSmart, because Google obviously has far more money and resources than we do. What we have and they don’t, is a mandate to have the best possible maps that can be used to meet people’s varying needs. One of the key components in this, is what we call our ‘turn restriction database’. We know where all the roads are, we know which ones have traffic lights or roundabouts, we know which ones are one way streets, or have no left or right turns. We know the streets where you can turn legally, but a large vehicle probably wouldn’t be able to complete the manoevre.

We know which roads in NZ actually exist. What do I mean? New Zealand was town planned in Edinborough a couple of centuries ago and some 20% of the streets draughted, were never constructed. We know those as paper roads. These still exist on our government maps (which services such as Google use) because they have a legal status and the Government can still retake the land to build them.

For decades, our people have maintained maps of New Zealand working with data we collected by driving and flying New Zealand over and over again. We continue to do this and move the boundaries taking advantage of new technology so that our data quality and accuracy stays ahead of the needs of our clients. For example, with the RAPIDcV, we now are able to collect data at 15cm accuracy for future car navigation and safety systems. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Eco-routing and other future technologies will only work with quality data and for these services, near enough is definitely not good enough.

When people buy car navigation systems, they are relying on accuracy to help them find their way around. There is a good reason why quality brands such as Navman and TomTom come to us for data, because near enough is not good enough. If you take a look at web map sites where you can see the roads on aerial photography and where they show the roads using the labels, you will see that they often don’t match up. In other words, they are not spatially accurate.

If you want to claim tax rebates for times when your commercial vehicle is not on a public road, you need to to be able to prove accurately, where you drove. If your map itself isn’t accurate, then your argument must be flawed.

In the old days, we looked at a map and interpreted the data in our heads. If something didn’t look right, we worked our way around it, and it wasn’t a problem. When you put your map on a computer and have the computer make decisions for you, the quality of the data has a far more serious impact. That is why we have a large team of professionals employed in NZ to make sure that we have as accurate data as possible. That is why the NZ Automobile Association invested in our company.

One of today’s problems is that these maps are now accessible on mobile phones and other devices. People assume that all maps are basically the same and then don’t understand when they get a poor result. They might blame the phone manufacturer or the technology, but the old addage in the computer industry is still true. GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out.

So next time you want to rely on a data source, don’t assume that all maps are the same. They aren’t. In some cases it doesn’t matter, but in many cases it does. Our people care about quality, they use patience and skill to produce map data that people rely on.

Thanks Brian for showing us that map quality matters and being a multinational giant doesn’t necessarily mean they are always the best. Who knows NZ better than Kiwis? I’m sure you will find AA Maps and other sites that use GeoSmart Maps a tad more reliable.

December 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment