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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

The 2009 Location Innovation Awards Get Somewhere

Pretty soon you will be able to find out which bus to catch, get turn by turn walking directions to the bus stop, be told to walk a little faster so you won’t miss it and be able to pay for your bus ticket, all on your mobile phone. These concepts won Auckland University Student, Matt Weston a trip to the Where 2.0 Conference in San Jose in May this year as winner of the Grand Prize of the Inaugural GeoSmart Location Innovation Awards with his mobile phone application called Get Somewhere.

On Wednesday night a packed house attended the GeoSmart 2009 Location Innovation Awards Prize Giving event at Sale St in Auckland to celebrate the beginning of a new era in Kiwi ingenuity and to find out that LBS is going to change the way many of us interact with the world around us, with location aware mobile phones.

GeoSmart Sales & Marketing Manager, Luigi Cappel presented research and examples from Europe and the UK and said, “If your mobile is aware of its location, all sorts of wonderful applications can enrich your life. We were looking for some new Kiwi icons to showcase Kiwi inventiveness for this new industry segment, and I believe we found a number of them. Matt Weston also took out the Category Award for Proximity Based Marketing with Get Somewhere.”

“Other category winners included agency TBWA\WHYBIN TEQUILA\ who won the Location Based Games Category with Adipush, a sports motivation application which appears destined for adoption in a number of countries around the world only weeks after its conception. They also took away the Social Networking Category with Facebook Carpool Tree, which combines social networking with viral marketing in a concept that has every likelihood of achieving what other carpool concepts have missed. The application was extremely well conceived and will give TBWA\WHYBIN TEQUILA\ and their clients an edge in a time when traditional marketing media such as TVC’s, Radio and Print Advertising are dwindling. The Agencies that understand the concepts of associating brands with mobile LBS stand to achieve CTR’s and response rates unheard of in traditional marketing.”

The other major winner was Neil McCallum with House-Mouse in the AA Maps Widget Category. An application that is designed to put the search for appropriate Real Estate back in the hands of the buyer who can find the properties they are looking for based on their criteria as well as optimising the route and getting printable turn by turn directions to take with them. “While the application was designed to print the directions from the AA Maps web site,” said McCallum. “The next logical step would of course be to have the directions and route maps along with other relevant information sent directly to your mobile.”

GeoSmart General Manager, Phil Allen said, “We have been so thrilled with the high calibre of entries and support from the industry, that we have already committed to running this competition again in 2009-2010. “

March 19, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, awards, carbon footprint, competition, competitions, driving directions, geosmart, gps, lbs, lbs games, location innovation awards, maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, route optimisation, social networking, tomtom, Uncategorized, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment