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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.

 

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

Adding Location To Loyalty Card Apps

There are obviously lots of different kinds of loyalty cards. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 cards ranging from Coffee Cards through to Airline Frequent Flyer Cards. I have so many I can’t carry them all in my wallet, which is unfortunate when I find myself in a position to use one. I do carry a Smartphone, so there are opportunities to carry apps. Many retail companies in New Zealand now have apps, mostly on iPhone and Android. They range from cafe’s and fast food companies to tourism and banks. Features include the ability to order food from a specific store, the ability to view the store on the map, make reservations and view points.

A lot of companies have had back on using Smartphone applications for loyalty programs on the basis that there are not enough people using them. At the last Social Media Club Auckland event one of the panel questions was what is the penetration of Smartphones in New Zealand. No one had an answer as the telco’s generally don’t want to share this competitive information. However in this month’s IT Brief there was a quote from Tony Baird of Vodafone saying that 66% of their mobile users now have Smartphones. That’s pretty high penetration and growing rapidly as is their data traffic which grew from 60TB in June last year to 135 TB in June this year. It would be reasonable to expect at least Telecom to be showing similar penetration.

So, in my last post I talked about a number of aspects of getting to know your customers. Given the statistics in the poll on my previous blog almost 70% of loyalty card holders do not specifically head to shop at a store where they have a loyalty card. In effect this says that the loyalty card in most cases is not attracting people to do business, or effectively be loyal to the retailer or group who invest a lot of time and money into the card systems in manufacture, distribution and all the other aspects of running a loyalty program.

What is missing? I believe that one aspect is not really understanding the customer. Let’s start simple. How do you get a loyalty card? Obviously it varies. Some cards like a coffee card are as simple as the retailer offering the card to a customer when they are in the store buying a coffee, the retailer invites them to start using a card, typically offering your 11th cup free. At the other end of the scale there are forms to fill out, which confidentially provides the company with significant information about the person. This may include:

  • Home address
  • Home and Mobile Phone numbers
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Interests
  • Family details e.g. single, married, children under or over a certain age
  • Occupation
  • Email address

In theory this enables the loyalty program to target information to the member and under strict Direct Marketing opt in guidelines, make offers to the members, which typically comes in the form of eDM’s and Direct Mail. The latter is a very expensive form of marketing as is normal advertising such as print, radio and TVC’s. For many industries and products this is tough business. How often do you buy a lawn mower, a TV or an iPhone? The marketing only works when you are open to buy. I recently purchased a new lawn mower, but it was the first one in over 10 years. If I had kept every lawn mower advertisement that arrived in my letter box trying to sell me one and looked at the creative, print and distribution costs, it might have been cheaper for them to give me a lawnmower. Of course all of this advertising is focussed on products that everyone is selling, there is very little focus on products that are unique. Everyone has a promotion on a printer, a TV, an iPhone which forces everyone to focus on price, heavy discounts and the consumer wins if they are looking for that product. Profits up the value chain are massively eroded through the competitive pricing and costs of marketing.

Data Mining and Business Intelligence are already used by some companies and very soon GeoSmart will be launching the much anticipated BIonaMAP we have discussed in many blogs in the past. This will allow companies to better understand their customers on the basis of the data provided, including the ability to view their customers and query their information in relation to the Department of Statistics mesh blocks and area units.

Canberra Income $100,000+

In this example we looked for   where the average household income in Canberra (yes we do Australia too) is equal to or greater than $100,000. If we were looking for loyalty members who had higher than average discretionary spending capability, this could be a very useful tool for target marketing. We could potentially make special offers by overlaying our loyalty card members in this SaaS (Software as a Service) application and then querying them from a combination of the information we have about them and the information the statistics department has about people in the area.

In the coming blogs I will get into more detail about what the implications are from the perspective of location, but like anything you need to start at the beginning and in many cases as I have outlined,  scatter gun marketing, throwing leaflets into letter boxes does not effectively target people who might change their behaviour in favour of your product or brand.

The key to loyalty is a relationship and this comes from engagement. You don’t engage well by putting something in someone’s letterbox. You engage by understanding who they are, what their needs are, when they are out and about and open to buy. As a retailer with a loyalty program you have huge amounts of information about your clients at your fingertips, which is untouched.

Here’s a simple example to finish this blog. Paper Plus not only supports Fly Buys, but they also have their own card called My Big Deal. They run promotions for people who use that card. Right now they have a sale on certain children’s books. If you buy the books using your loyalty card and they store that information, they now know (if they didn’t ask in their registration form) that you either have children or have a relationship with children, perhaps as a grandparent. So they know you buy children’s books. This is valuable information that you could take advantage of in your proximity based marketing application.

More on the location based aspect for apps is coming up, now that we have covered some basics. If this is of interest, please bookmark or subscribe. If you know of someone else who might be interested, why not send them a link? If you would like to discuss these concepts with us about your own business, please contact us.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Print Advertising, proximity based marketing, Radio Advertising, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, territory management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sead Latest in IT Seminar – Mobile Technology

A couple of weeks ago our Sales & Marketing Manager, Luigi Cappel had the privilege of presenting to a group of ICT professionals at the Mercure Hotel hosted by Sead I.T. People. The presentation in the series of Sead Latest in IT Seminar was on Mobile Marketing.

Sead Presentation

The audience came from a wide range of industries and were encouraged to remember the passion that encouraged them to join the industry as innovators in their companies, showing them how to use technology to grow their companies, solving business problems, improving efficiencies and increasing productivity and profit.

Covering topics including the latest Gartner Hype Cycle predictions, Location and Proximity Based Marketing, Check In Marketing, Mobile Computing, QR Codes, Business Intelligence using maps and the hot topic of the use of personal devices in a corporate market, there was something in it for everyone. Case studies illustrated not only practical use of technology, but professional processes to ensure that projects were well designed for success.

The presentation outlined the ongoing chasm between people in the ICT profession and their colleagues when it came to understanding and use of new technologies, particularly mobile and location based. Luigi encouraged the audience ranging from consultants to CIO’s to consider how they can educate and encourage their companies to understand the new technologies and how they fit into their business frameworks. There are great opportunities for IT people to be welcomed back into the boardroom by working closely with the management team to show them how to implement and benefit from new technologies, safely and securely.

Luigi and the Sead Team at the Mercure

September 5, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Check Ins, Data Mining, facebook, foursquare, geosmart, GIS, ICT, iphone, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail Profit, ROI, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More on Group Deals and Prescience

Seems like I was on the mark in my blog in July about the huge volume of one day type web sites and that people will quickly get sick and tired of the bombardment of deals. So many of us today are getting huge numbers of time wasting emails, offering us everything from holidays to lucky dip bags. A story in Ad Age Digital this morning says that the trend is now definitely heading downwards in the US.

Yelp, is cutting down its Yelp Deals staff in half as outlined by CNN today and Facebook announced this week that they are shutting down Facebook Deals after originally suggesting that they were going to make huge inroads into Groupon’s business.

Just to reiterate, the problem isn’t the deals. The shear number of sites offering daily deals and bombarding consumers is a fad and most, as I predicted will quietly disappear as they find there is too much competition and they can’t make a profit or reach critical mass for a harvest or sale. As I have already said, retailers aren’t making money from these deals (generalisation) and where they do use the deals to get people into their premises, they don’t seem to be coming back for a second visit once they have their deals.

I will shortly come back to the new strategy that has much more potential to generate positive cash flows for all concerned which is off course location or  proximity based marketing. There will of course be a spate of these and many of the same developers will be jumping on the bandwagon, but they will find that it is much harder than they think and they will struggle to get many retailers on board for reasons I have discussed previously.

All is not lost and proximity based marketing / check ins has huge potential. However it is something that takes an understanding of destination business, game theory, loyalty, what people actually need and want, knowledge about location based services and much more. Areas that we can help with. Get it right and this is a huge business opportunity for all, get it wrong and people will be turned off and it will take much longer to achieve the results that we are predicting.

August 30, 2011 Posted by | Business Tools, Check Ins, competition, Distribution, facebook, foursquare, geosmart, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Retail, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, Sales, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Consumers are Checking In to Retail Stores

In my previous blog I pointed out that that retailers were not adopting strategies for check in location based marketing. In the blog prior to that I quoted Comstat research that shows that in the first 3 months of this year 16.7 million people check into locations using Foursquare and similar applications, representing 7.1% of the total mobile population. I don’t know what the statistics are for New Zealand, but I suspect the numbers are somewhere between 5 and 7% of the NZ mobile user population.

Comstat also came up with some interesting statistics about the demographics of those users.

Firstly a lot of people think this is technology for men, that they are the geeks, but of course women love to shop, they are social shoppers and as the graph shows, there are in fact more women than men checking in!

The predominant age group should be no surprise, we would expect 18-44 year olds to be the most tech savvy and of course having disposable income for Smartphones which are the predominant mobile used for check ins. Again from Comstat for the first 3 months of this year in the USA Android pipped Apple at 36.6% to 33.7$ of devices used for checking in.

The largest group of users were in full time employment 46.6% and the second largest at 23.3% were full time students.

Just as a footnote to my blog on Group Deals and Bricks and Mortar Business there was an interesting story in eMarketer a couple of days ago. The story contained statistics that from research by Cooper Murphy Copywriters in July this year, 82% of Groupon users expressed dissatisfaction with the level of repeat business they generated from their campaigns and 49% would not use them again. This is interesting when many companies use daily deal type promotions to introduce new customers to their stores.

Of course you know where I am going with this series and that is that Location or Proximity Based Marketing offers far more compelling tools for retailers and other destination businesses to entice people into their premises. Obviously a fundamental component of that is not just how to get them to come to you, but how to get them there when you want them and to have them purchase or consume products or services that achieve your goals. For a retailer that might be those same products you were quitting on a daily deal, but like the Auckland superette owner who has been selling milk at 10 cents below cost as a loss leader, part of the strategy behind that is the opportunity to merchandise other products those same people will buy with a healthy profit margin. If you have an aged stock problem, location based marketing can get people into your store and while they enjoy the low price of your distressed inventory, put something at eye level in from of them that increases the profit of your sale. Cherry pickers do not make you profit.

Likewise if you have a cafe or restaurant, don’t just offer a free coffee with $5 worth of food. Offer it only at times when your business is empty and not to the people who were coming in anyway, they are dealt with using your normal loyalty program. Of course loyalty marketing is also very important and fits into location, but you’re going to have to come back to a future blog for that.

Thanks for reading our blog. If you think this is of interest to people you know, please tell them about it or send them a link. You can also subscribe using the RSS feed.

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Android, Auckland, Business Intelligence, Check Ins, competition, Distribution, foursquare, iphone, lbs, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, Retail Profit, ROI, Sales, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bartercard is on our Map

Our latest SmartFIND client is Bartercard, who have a new website called Bartercard Maps launched this month.  This is an awesome tool for Bartercard members to find others to trade with on the basis of location.

We have already experienced its value in planning for our Bizzone Expo trips coming up in Wellington and Christchurch. We were able to go onto the Bartercard Maps website and find accommodation close to the exhibition venues, which we could pay for using Bartercard Dollars. The key difference to the traditional Bartercard book and their traditional online directories, is that you can now search for services specifically based on location.

Are you planning on visiting one of the Bizzone Expos? If you are, we would like to give you a free ticket, valued at $20 to whichever one is nearest to you.  All you need to do is to subscribe to our newsletter and the next newsletter will contain a link so that you can print off a free ticket before you go.

While the printed directories are very useful for getting more in-depth information about member companies and what they offer, often when you need a service, the book might not be handy. If you want to use trades people, purchase goods or services, a key element in your decision making is often about proximity. The closer they are to you, the easier it is going to be to do business with them, whether they come to you, or you go to them. If you are away from your office and you want a service handy to where you are, all you need is your Bartercard Account details and a browser.

Speaking from direct experience, this will generate more business for Bartercard members. Normally we would have simply searched for the nearest accommodation to the venue, or gone back to previous places we had stayed. We would not have been staying at the venues we selected if it wasn’t for the new New Zealand Bartercard Maps website.

If you are not a Bartercard member, you will not be able to drill down into this site, but it has some great features. You can search by Business Name, Keyword, category or industry and location, the latter 2 using an Auto-completer (searches the database as you key in the search word/s to help you find exactly what you want without you having complete the entry and avoiding errors).  You also have the option to use the SmartFIND map tools to pan or zoom the map to a location and have it limit the search to the section of map you are currently viewing.

Another useful tool is the ability to go back to Points of Interest (i.e. Bartercard Members) that you have recently looked at within the session. You can also save particular locations as favourites, which are saved to your profile. So for example, I have saved the accommodation providers I have selected for our upcoming trips.

This is a great example of combining location based services with a directory based business, which will generate more revenue for the members using GeoSmart SmartFIND Webmap technology. We are delighted to have Bartercard as a client and as a new showcase site for our services. Above all we are delighted to have another opportunity to show that web based mapping sites will provide a Return On Investment for our clients.

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Auckland, geosmart, GIS, lbs, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Sales, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proximity Based Marketing and LBS is a Growth Opportunity

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that traditional forms of Advertising are shrinking. There are many statistics backing this up. There are many statistics backing this up and in Asia Pacific, Carat, for example have forecast a 5.8% decline in ad spend for this year. Obviously the economy is a factor in this result, but it also signals a change in advertising behaviour as people are paying less attention to traditional forms of advertising. Many people now have products such as MySky and Tivo is almost here. These products make it very simple for people to avoid watching TVC’s because the can fast forward their recorded TV programmes. TVNZ announced that they were laying off 90 people as a consequence of a $25 million reduction in advertising revenue. The same applies with radio where many people are now opting for their iPods to listen to their favourite music instead of tuning in and being forced to listen to radio ads.

In my opinion, this doesn’t mean that people want to avoid advertising, specials and promotions altogether. They want them to be more relevant. ZenithOptimedia have forecast far greater drops in Ad expenditure, 11% drop in magazines, 10% in radio, 5.5 in TV, but around a 10% increase in Internet Advertising. So traditional forms of advertising decline, but Internet advertising is on the rise.

Why would that be? People are using the Internet far more these days, which takes them away from traditional media, but the key element to me is relevance. In the World Wide Web, it is far easier to ensure that advertising is relevant to the search or type of site that people are visiting. It also offers a great opportunity for call to action with Click Through, which is of course where Google makes the bulk of its income.

The ability to have people opt in to various services that are relevant to their interests and needs, their current time and place means that the offers will be welcomed and will have a far greater sales conversion rate than with traditional means of advertising and promotion. This is where the opportunity arises with Location Based Services (LBS) and Proximity Based Marketing.

The issue isn’t that people hate ads, specials, good deals and information. The relevance needs to be around space and time. I would welcome a Speight’s Mates Happy Hour electronic coupon, when I am walking past a bar, with a 2 for 1 offer on a Friday evening after work. But I probably wouldn’t even see a printed coupon in a magazine.

I’m sure tourists would take advantage of a special offer to a half price jet boat ride when they are on holiday in Queenstown, when they are within a kilometre of the boat on a sunny morning, than if they read an ad in the plane on their way to New Zealand. The tour operator gets a full boat and all the passengers have more fun. It’s timely, its based on their immediate location and its relevant to their current situation.

Many people think that the technology isn’t ready, but according to a story in ITWire, compound growth of GPS in mobile phones is over 49% and one of the major drivers in the proliferation of SmartPhones. According to Mobile Marketing Magazine, despite the economy, the penetration of SmartPhones grew by 33% to February this year. The traditional definition of a SmartPhone comes from Operating Systems such as Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile, but if you look around today, many of the mobile apps in those phones such as Contacts, Diary, Email, Still and Video Camera are now standard in pretty much every phone and with the low cost of GPS, that is now being added at great speed.

With Software Development Kits being made freely available for the popular brands and models of phone, this is a perfect opportunity to become familiar with the web services and API’s available from GeoSmart and outlined in previous blogs. All you need is a good idea and a little market research. Of course GeoSmart can offer you a Developer Agreement which gives you free access to any tools you need during the development process.

You can find more information on the Developer Page at http://www.geosmart.co.nz or email info@geosmart.co.nz

developer-page1

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Agencies, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Sales, satnav, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Tools Do You Need to Build a Mobile LBS Application Part 5

Route Optimisation

Time is a commodity you can’t buy more of, people are getting busier all the time. So far we have talked about being able to access and view a map, search for street addresses, Points of Interest and get driving directions to or from a location. We have looked at getting the coordinates of a location to display it on a map and we have looked at Reverse Geocoding to get the nearest street address to the location of a person or object.

The next thing is, what if you want to visit multiple locations on the same trip. You might be a merchandiser or service person with several visits to make and it doesn’t matter what order you do them in. You might be on holiday and wanting to explore the many attractions around you, or you could be visiting Open Homes.

It isn’t easy, looking at a map, to sort out what order to sort your visits into, you could get a pencil and a ruler and try to work out the route in your map book, or you could run your pen across the pages, as if completing a maze to sort out the order, but eventually you would have such a big mess that you would have to buy a new book. Of course this blog is about LBS, which typically means that we are developing applications for a mobile phone, that means that the user quite possibly doesn’t have a map book on them, or at the very least, doesn’t want to deface the book.

Here comes Route Optimisation, or as we call it at GeoSmart, Route2GO. Route Optimisation runs a very complex set of algorithms which look at every possible sequence of stops and comes up with the best order to do your visits. In its simplest form, it allows you to set your start and end points (which could be the same) and then tells you what order to make the visits in. The end result will be fewer kilometres travelled, less fuel, less time and less cost. This way of calculating is called The Travelling Salesman Problem. This concept is also great for people like the delivery truck for a furniture store. The optimised route tells the driver not only what order to do the deliveries in, but in reverse order, tells him how to load his truck so he doesn’t have to keep moving heavy objects around the truck, wasting time and energy and of course reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

There is also complex Route Optimisation. In this scenario there are all sorts of exceptions. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll keep it simple and limited to one day, because in a mobile situation, that’s probably all you would do, although of course you can do far more detailed planning in the office, for example a service manager could be planning how to meet their contractual commitments with multiple vehicles, multiple drivers, who don’t necessarily work on the same day and all sort of restrictions on the client side, such as day of the week, time of day etc. But I said I wouldn’t go into that.

Imagine you are in Queenstown on holiday and you are using one of the Proximity Based Marketing examples, we outlined for the Location Innovation Awards, where you want to visit multiple attractions. Some services like the Bungy Jump are a bit of a drive and others are close by, so you have logistical situations as to how to fit the most experiences into a day. But in order to do the jet boat ride and the Earnslaw cruise, there are time constraints and you have to be at certain places at certain times.

Imagine you are house hunting and a number of the properties you want to look at have Open Homes, which are on at different times.

Complex Route Optimisation would let you specify the times you have to be at certain places and also lets you set the amount of time you want to spend at each one. For Open Homes you might plan, say 15 minutes at each property, but the tourist activities have different times. The jet boat ride might be 45 minutes and the Earnslaw cruise an hour and a half. This tool would allow people to really get the most out of their day and at the same time drive the least distance, least time and cost for travel.

These web services are available as web services and can work very well on a mobile if the application is designed properly. Of course you could also use them on a web site and then have the results sent to the computer as SMS or perhaps a link that open the mobiles browser.

An application that provided these services would use a number of the tools we have previously discussed.

  • You need to identify and geocode the locations to confirm where they are and enable the optimisation.
  • You will want to be able to view the locations on a map to verify what is happening, both for confidence and comprehension.
  • You will need to use the Points Of Interest Web Service to look up street addresses and a database (either your own, a custom one such as seen at Bayleys or Professionals Real Estate.  or subscribing to some of the Point of Interest (POI) categories that GeoSmart offers which cover everything from geographical and historical to cafes, restaurants, attractions etc. You can see loyts of examples on AA Maps.
  • The Directions API would be used once you had established the order of the locations you are visiting and can provide turn by turn driving directions on your mobile from a to b to c and so on.

Just as an aside, the GeoSmart POI database contains additional contact information including phone numbers, email, web site etc, where appropriate. This means that you can also provide links in the mobile application so that people could add information to the contact list in the phone, or the ability to directly call the number from the application, without having to memorise, or copy and save the number.

So now you have used a number of GeoSmart tools (web services and API’s) to create your mobile LBS application. GeoSmart has many more tools available and we don’t stop. Our guys are constantly coming up with new tools and applications. If you haven’t found everything you need to develop your application or concept on the Developer Page, leave a comment or question, or contact us by email at info@geosmart.co.nz.

This was the last blog in this series, but there are many more interesting concepts and stories to tell you about, so please keep coming back, bookmark the main blog page or subscribe using your favourite RSS Feeder. And please feel free to comment, it would be great to share your comments and ideas.

April 6, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, cartography, Delivery, driving, driving directions, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, location innovation awards, map tools, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, optmisation, proximity based marketing, route optimisation, satnav, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Tools Do You Need to Develop an LBS Application Part 3

Geocoding and Reverse Geocoding are key components for many LBS Applications.

Geocoding is the process of generating a set of co-ordinates, which are subsequently used to display a location on a map. If you have a huge database of addresses, we typically do this as a batch process and have tools designed to try to compensate for poorly laid out databases, or errors such as mispelling, wrong suburb or when people like Real Estate Agents make up their own to make a location sound more attractive. A common one for example is Whangarei Surrounds. There is a place called Whangarei, but not Whangarei surrounds. Computers being fairly literal, if you try to search for a place that doesn’t exist in the database, you have to get creative.

Services like the POI Webservice V2, whichwas mentioned in the previous blog, are designed to help you with this requirement. How you do this depends on the type of application you are developing. For example:

  • If you are using an SMS service, you would have to have a very good address, if you want to get a good result. If the address doesn’t exist in our database, we can return a set of co-ordinates that are next best, for example if we don’t have the exact street address, we can return the middle of the street. One common issue in New Zealand which dates back to the days when we had lots of councils who didn’t consult with each other on street name allocation. As a consequence of this there are many duplicates. For example there are 23 different Queen Streets in Greater Auckland.
  • An autocompleter is a great way of getting to the correct address first time. You can see a nice example of this on AA Maps, where a new request is made of the POI Web Service every time a new character is entered, if the right result comes up at that point, you can click on it and then perform the action desired, such as viewing it on a map. This can function easily in a PC browser and can work fine in many mobile browsers. The main difference in a mobile would be that you reduce the number of results displayed in a list to make it user friendly on the smaller display.

For developers, there is much more detailed information in the Developer Section of our web site, including code examples. We support a wide range of results from text to javascript and html.

Reverse Geocoding is a powerful tool for mobile devices. What this does is using the co-ordinates derived from the mobile phone, we can display the users current location on a map. What we can then do is provide information about Points of Interest close to the user.

The first thing we can offer is the nearest street address. This can be used in various solutions such as

  • Buddy Finder
  • Locating children or elderly people, to ensure they are where they are supposed to be. This can include things like geo-fencing (which will be explained in a future blog).  The concept for children or elderly people might be to make sure they are at school, or perhaps close to the home or retirement village. It is very common for elderly people with Alzheimers or other conditions to wander off and then lose track of where they are or how to get back. Reverse Geocoding could enable authorised people to find out where they are if they have gone missing. Geo-fencing allows you to create a ring or polygon around the area they should be at, for example the gardens and surrounds of a rest home, but set of an alarm within a system if people leave that area, or go within a predefined distance of that area.
  • Locating people for health purposes. For example a system in Europe was designed to locate people such as diabetics who are away from their home and don’t have their insulin with them. Reverse geocoding could locate exactly where they are, while a proximity tool could identify the nearest Pharmacy which could prepare are dose and put it on a taxi to the patient’s location, even if they are disoriented and not sure where they are themselves.

This leads on to another benefit of reverse geocding in mobile applications. One of the most common services being developed for mobile applications is the ability to find Points of Interest nearby the location of the person’s mobile, without them having to be able to identify their location. This would then utilise either a proprietary database, or the GeoSmart subscription POI database which was mentioned in our previous blog. We have an extensive database covering most locations you might want to find when you are out and about. It could be (follow the links for examples on AA Maps web site) a motelBP petrol station, a public toilet, a National Bank ATM, a pharmacy, cafe or pretty much anything. This makes it really for people to find anything they need within proximity of their location, without having to kow where they are.

Proximity Based Marketing will be a huge growth area for LBS which is enabled by these tools as is Location Based Social Networking.

Of course if you now have the co-ordinates of where you are and the co-ordinates of the location you want to go to, you can now offer turn by turn directions to that location n the mobile. This will be the topic of our next blog, so if you are interested in this subject, please bookmark this blog, or add it to your RSS aggregator such as iGoogle.

Geocoding and reverse geocoding a critical tools for mobile LBS applications.

April 2, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, driving directions, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, social networking, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Tools Do You Need To Create An LBS Application in New Zealand Part One

The first thing you need is a map. Many people seem to think (as I did before I joined GeoSmart) that maps are fundamentally the same and equal. Makes sense doesn’t it. We’re a small country and you would expect all maps to have the same data.

That would seem to make sense given that the core data for New Zealand is supplied by the Government under the Land Institute of New Zealand. LINZ is the authority when it comes to things cadastral. They manage land titles, topographic data about New Zealand, hydrographic information, the official street name register and is a part of the NZ Geographic Board which is currently busy deciding whether Wanganui should now be called Whanganui.

When GeoSmart decided to enter the car navigation business, we quckly found that the ‘official’ maps of New Zealand have a ‘computed road centreline’. In effect that means that they use a system which places the road notionally between property boundaries. This wasn’t a big deal when it came to road maps because a road map requires that you plan your rate based on a paper image and if it is not exactly right, you can interpret the map and get to your desired location. This data also contains ‘paper roads’. Paper roads are unformed roads that were draughted in Scotland in the late 1800’s and never constructed. Again if you were to see a road on a map and it physically isn’t there, no problem, you can work your way around it. Consumers Institute has a number of pages on this topic.

Whilst not an issue on a printed map, consider the problems if you tried to use this data for car navigation and routing. When GeoSmart made the commitment to develop a car navigation database, it was quickly realised that it was necessary to drive every road in New Zealand and also use information gleaned from its Orthophotography in order to create an accurate road centreline database. In doing so, we were also able to capture information including one way streets, dual carriageways, turn restrictions, speed zones, the actual name on the street signs (which were sometimes different to the LINZ data) whether a road was paved or not and much more. In doing this we were able to create a database suitable for car navigation (over 90% market share including TomTom and Navman)  and many other services including Fleet Management (around 80% market share including Navman Wireless, Astrata, Xlerate, Argus Tracking, Blackhawk).

Fleet management is even more critical. One of the key reasons companies buy Fleet Management solutions is because they can claim back Road User Charges (RUC) as they are not liable to pay taxes when their trucks are on private property. If they were to try to do this using the computed road centreline, they would struggle to pass a Tax Audit because using in accurate maps, they could often be calculated to be off-road, when they are actually on the road. You can best see this in evidence by using a map dataset which overlays aerial or satellite imagery with the cadastral map data set. Especially in rural areas you will find that there are major discrepancies between the photography and the map data.

So after that long journey, GeoSmart is now able to offer you access to the Web Mapping API, which can enable you to offer routing, driving directions and other tools including displaying map tiles on a mobile or PDA display. You can search for streets, numbers and businesses.

If you explore the many LBS applications being developed overseas (some of which this blog will cover in the near future, you will see that driving or turn by turn directions are a very popular feature of LBS applications. Whether it is a LBS game, a buddy finder, proximity based marketing, planning a run or cycle trip, routing has a part to play and is one of the major reasons that people internationally use LBS applications. If you don’t have a map book (we create the Wises and AA Maps you probably have in your car)  or folded map with you, you have less opportunity to interpret data that is inaccurate, so it is imperative that you use accurate information in your application.In countries where the Government provides accurate maps (such as the USA) this is very easy to do, but in New Zealand, to date only GeoSmart has a fully driven road centreline. And of course as you know from a previous blog, we are now re driving all of New Zealand in the RAPIDcV with around 20cm accuracy.

The RAPIDcV GeoSmarts hi-tech data capture vehicle

So if you want to create an application with accurate maps and directions, the SmartFind WebMap API is a key component. If you would like to check this out, we do of course have the ability to give you a Developer Agreement at no cost so that you can start creating your application.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, cartography, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, lbs games, maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, satnav, tomtom, Uncategorized, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment