GeoSmart Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

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

Cartography and Maps for Your Advertising Campaign

As a mapping company we do all sorts of work, and if you are in New Zealand you probably have a printed map that we created at home or in your car. We produce printed maps for the NZ Automobile Association, for Wises, for Yellow, for the NZ Motorhome and Caravan Association and many more. We produce map books, sheet maps, travel atlas, advertising directories  and lots more.

Another area of our business is custom map creation. We have a huge database of information about New Zealand (and other countries including Australia) and frequently produce either digital map data or printed map data on our plotters on demand. We often produce map data for use on web sites, printed advertising, flyers, posters, Point of Sale and so on. We can produce data in most formats, optimised to the size desired.

There is a catch and that is that we have peak times and times when we struggle to deal with any additional work, such as when new annual map books, tourist guides, tourist maps etc are scheduled, so to avoid disappointment, it does pay to get in early. Our peak season starts around June, so if you need maps for a current promotion, now is a good time to talk to us about it.

So if you need anything to do with maps and map data for your next campaign, event, publication, conference, advertisement, contact us now. We’d love to help.

NZ Travel Atlas

February 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Agencies, Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, cartography, geosmart, map tools, maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, Print Advertising, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

AA Traffic is here

For the last year we have been flat out developing our Real Time Traffic solution, aka AA Traffic. This has been a huge undertaking with so many elements involved. As you may know, GeoSmart is a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Automobile Association. NZAA is the first and only motoring association in the world so far to own a mapping company and thereby have access to its own mapping data and the ability to create solutions.

One of the biggest issues today is traffic and as a motoring association, an incorporated society owned by its members who are motorists, a key concern for it is to keep motorists moving. This presents a problem in a country where there appear to be more cars than people. In Auckland particularly, traffic issues are compounded by the many people who feel that the public transport system doesn’t meet their needs. That’s without taking into consideration the current bus strikes in Auckland which have seen some schools missing 15% of the students today. In August Michael Barnett, Chairman of the Auckland Business Forum quoted comments in the NZ Herald of 10 years ago that then the time-cost to business for Auckland was around $1 billion!

AA Traffic by GeoSmart was not designed to solve problems, rather to inform road users and give them information that will help them decide on their driving route, or perhaps to reconsider whether they want to be on the road at all. The system is to complex to explain, but fundamentally this is how it works.

Data Input

We have established relationships with emergency services, New Zealand Transport Agency, several councils and other organisations who continually feed us with information about accidents, incidents, road works, events and anything  else that could interfere with normal throughput of NZ’s roads. This information is managed by call centre staff who work shifts covering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The system is designed to collate all of this information, eliminate false positives, verify the source and quality of the data and much more. We even invite AA Members to tell us about incidents they find, by dialling *223 on their mobiles.

Data Output

The information is then disseminated to be transmitted across many channels. The first ones are AA Maps, which is our flagship mapping site, supporting routing, searching for Points of Interest and much more. What better way to plan your trip or holiday, than to be able view the route, including any traffic issues that might affect you before you drive, then print the route with turn by turn directions, to take for your navigator in the car.

We have totally revamped AA’s Roadwatch website. You can now preset the region that has the greatest relevance to you and by setting up a free AA Maps account, have Roadwatch automatically open to the page in your web browser. This automatically refreshes every 5 minutes to give you the latest information.

We now have additional subscription  services that you can find at the new AA Traffic website. These are Alerts that you can receive by email or direct to your mobile phone. Services available are the Route Alert, Area Alert and Weekend Getaway. If you are an AA Member, you can try the email Alert services for free until the end of the year and if you use a Telecom mobile, you can access the Alert service for free on your mobile until the end of the year.

Of course we are very serious about safety and as we can’t tell whether you are in your car, or driving when you receive our alerts, we place a condition on users of our services, that they do not view them whilst driving.

In addition to these services, we are now sending AA Traffic information directly to compatible car navigation devices. This has significant benefits because if the device knows where you are going and the route you are taking, it is able to alert you about an incident (even if it occurred after you started driving) and offer you an alternative route. The first devices on the market come from Navman. There are a number of other brands of car navigation offering this service on the way. If you are on the road a lot, even if you know how to get to your destination, you can’t know about what’s happening or going to happen on your route. This should be of significant benefit to all regular road users, whether emergency services, trades people, sales people and merchandisers, taxis and many more.

Now of course we want people to know about it and will be running a number of marketing activities to share the word. You can expect to see advertising material about AA Traffic in a range of media and of course we invite you to try it out for yourself.

If you are on Twitter, you can now follows us here, and we al;so have a Facebook Fan Page where we update information and also run competitions and invite people to share their stories or information. If you are on Facebook, why don’t you join in and keep in the know?

October 12, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, competitions, driving, driving directions, facebook, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, maps, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen to Echoes from Woices – Ideas for the Location Innovation Awards

Have you registered for the Location Innovation Awards? It’s not too late.  The Location Innovati0n Awards don’t close until February 16.

Recently I came across a site that shows potential, but they are not yet using GPS or mobile. Nevertheless, their concept is very good. In simple terms Woices allows you to record comments on the net about places that you have been to, called ‘Echoes’. Using reverse geocoding you can tag the location to  a map so that people can go to a map and see the locations that have ‘Echoes’ and then listen to them.

From a Location Innovation Awards perspective, this would be a great concept to make mobile. Whether it’s through GPS or triangulation, it would be a simple thing to create an application that takes advantage of the mobile knowing it’s position, recording a voice message and a photo and then uplocaing it to a website.

The concept of a social community sharing information is becoming commonplace, but most of these applications are web based. This is fine when you are planning a trip, but could be much better if it was made more mobile.

When I travel overseas and am looking for accomodation or activities, I check them out on Travelocity. The reason I do this is because the public can upload comments. Last year I had a short holiday in jamaica and found this system very helpful. For example the first resort I looked up in Montego Bay looked great on the hotel’s website, but the comments said things like, “If you are single and want to party 24 hours a day, this place was made for you. Don’t bring your kids. ” Using people’s comments I found the perfect resort and it was exactly what the comments said it would be and I was very happy with my selection.

Mobility means you can do much more. For example let’s say you are in Rotorua and looking for somewhere to have a brunch. Using your mobile you could search for cafe’s or restaurants within a kilometer of where you are and listen to the ‘Echoes’ other people had left. For example “great food but it took an hour to get it to the table’.

From a tourism perspective, sharing information that you can access from your phone could be great. I was talking to someone recently who went on a motorhome tour of New Zealand and they told me that some of the best places they stopped for the night weren’t marked on any maps, they found out about them from other motorhomers who told them where to find spots where they could park by the water and enjoy wonderful sunsets. A GPS mobile application could allow you to locate all sorts of interesting places based on the recommendations of others.

Voice messages like this can be in multiple languages and would allow you to enjoy high tech results without requiring you to have computing skills  or sophisticated technology. In addition to info from fellow travellers, this is also a great opportunity for locals to share information with travellers about local history, amenities and attractions and people have already started doing this on Woices.

A concept like this in a mobile environment would fit into several categories of the Location Innovation Awards, including the best Tourism Application and the AA Maps Widgets which could earn you a luxury adventure in a Maui Camper.

December 7, 2008 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, competition, competitions, geosmart, gps, lbs, location innovation awards, maps, new zealand, satnav, social networking, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GeoSmart adds new features to AA Maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safe Driving with AA Roadwatch

GeoSmart Maps has rebuilt the NZ Automobile Association’s Roadwatch web site and re-launched it to inform motorists about events taking place on New Zealand roads; this includes road works, accidents, road closures, delays and incidents such as slips and washouts, which are very topical given current weather conditions.

The original web site had generic maps which showed the general area where incidents had occurred, whereas the new site has dynamic maps allowing people to view the incident location on a map at region, suburb or zoom right down to street level.

A pop up window on the map provides in depth information about the incident including its anticipated resolution date and time. The site dynamically updates information every 5 minutes and indicates whether the incident has been verified. The service also includes Future Notifications such as events and other known issues.

“The service will be fully managed by the AA and a call centre which is operational 24/7 will feed public information into the system. The system will also soon have the ability for local authorities to enter information about planned road works,” says GeoSmart’s General Manager Phil Allen.

“AA Roadwatch is about informing motorists so they can make better decisions on the roads, whether it’s’ taking an alternate route or leaving half an hour later.”

AA Roadwatch may be found at http://www.aaroadwatch.co.nz

August 12, 2008 Posted by | driving, driving directions, maps, new zealand, real time traffic, Traffic, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment