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Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 10

Wow, where did the year go? This has been a huge year for GeoSmart and 10 looks to be equally exciting.  If you want to catch up with us, you have a few hours before we close for summer holidays. We re-open on 11 January.

The big one for the year just gone has to be AA Traffic. This was a long time in the planning and it has been very exciting for us to set up this real time traffic service covering all of New Zealand. Have you tried it yet? Check the Traffic web site before you go on holiday.  You will find that we have extended the free email and txt alerts until the end of January. You may have finished work, but accidents and other incidents don’t go on holiday. On the traffic page you will also find that we have Cook Straight Ferries as well as domestic and international airline departures and arrivals for Auckland and Christchurch airports.

If you set up a free account, you can have Roadwatch automatically open up to the area you live, work or play in so that you can see if there is anything you need to know about. Road works and ramp closures can be really frustrating, so this is a good place to keep an eye out for anything that might get in your way. They are time sensitive, so it is worth looking at before you get in the car, you can also click on Upcoming Events, to see if there is anything happening in the future that might make you want to change your plans.

If you haven’t already, you will see that our AA Maps website is continuously evolving with new features.  One of my favourites is the proximity feature. Pick an address or Point of Interest and you will see that you can now look for something within a 5km radius. For example if you were going to Rotorua for Christmas, you could look for  restaurants or bars within walking distance of your accommodation. You can also plan an entire itinerary, and drag and drop and drop the stops to help you fit more into your time while saving gas and carbon emissions. You can plan your trip, drag the route on the map to change the roads you will drive on and print it all out to take in the car. Of course you can view AA Traffic incidents and web cams on AA Maps as well, which again makes it a great site to check before you hop in your car.

We are thrilled to be able to give people who buy new Navman car navigation devices between December and January a free Lifetime License to AA Traffic. This is the ultimate way to get your traffic alerts. We are currently broadcasting in the greater Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch areas and more will be added in the new year. This totally changes the concept of GPS and car navigation. You can set it so that it only warns you if there is an incident on your route and gives you the option to accept an alternate route avoiding the incident. Who wants to spend their holiday stuck in their cars in a line behind an accident you could have avoided? You might have avoided buying nav because you know your way around, but you would never have known that the road was blocked ahead for the next 4 hours due to a serious accident. You will also love the ability to find your nearest petrol station, ATM, cafe etc, or perhaps a rest area, or a dump site for your campervan. And when the kids ask “Are we nearly there yet?” You can say, “we will be there in 17 minutes”:)

Of course we love our partners TomTom very much too. Their IQ Routes (which of course uses our road data)  has even surprised me on occasion in finding a new way to drive home, that I had never thought of. Other than AA Traffic, they share all the same excellent information that our other car navigation partners do.

We continue to add new data to our car nav solutions including 3D buildings, lane guidance and enhanced Points of Interest data. Car nav is a never ending part of our product development and we stay aware of all the new developments and features that our partners are planning so that we can offer the best possible data for New Zealand going forward. Of course our data collection and driving never end. The RAPIDcV continues to collect lots of valuable data and we have some exciting plans for enhancing this in the new year.

We have joined the adoption of social networking with a Facebook Fan Page where we are engaging with the public with competitions and discussion related to traffic issues. We also have a Twitter page, which we use in a similar way to share information and develop a community of people interested in supporting our efforts to share up to date information.

We have a number of new web mapping clients and several more that will go live early in the new year. For businesses who want quality map data, routing and access to our extensive Points of Interest database, our data is updated 11 times a year making sure that you can rely on our products. We feature some of those sites on our home page.

We launched the new Route2GO web service, which was a long time coming. We have so many companies who have been waiting for this and are very exciting to see new 3rd party solutions being developed that will help businesses with route optimisation as well as calculation of fair pricing for freight and travel costs. Whether it is a large transport company, a taxi service or a furniture shop with a single van, we now have a solution that will make life easy for you. We are working with and seeking new partners who would like to integrate these tools into their solutions for their clients as our model is to work with partners, not to compete with our clients in developing end user products.

There have been exciting developments in Fleet Management and we have had many new companies join us this year for everything from vehicle tracking to Road User Charges, with a number starting to adopt the concept of digital hubometers. RUC is here to stay and with over 80% of Fleet Management companies using our data, it would be fair to say that it is the standard.

We are working on many off shore projects and you will hear our name much more often outside of New Zealand, mostly with partners. A major part of our IP is the knowledge of how to build quality map datasets and then provide web services and API’s around this data.

We ran the Location Innovation Awards and in May we sent the lucky winner to the USA to attend the Where 2.0 Conference. We are going to run the 2010 Location Innovation Awards and have already had some exciting offers of sponsorship in prizes and technical support. We are changing the timing  this year to make it easy for our university partners to fit the Awards into their calendar, as we were very excited about the work that many students, especially at Massey University prepared. New Zealand has a huge amount of untapped talent and we look forward to helping the legends of the future make themselves known. Location Based Services are going to hit their straps in the next couple of years and you will see the GeoSmart name a lot in this context.

If you haven’t seen them, we now have regular e-newsletters. We used to print them, but print means cutting down trees and isn’t as multidimensional. You can find them here and also subscribe if you would like them in your inbox.

If you are still with me, thanks for reading this blog. There was much more activity that I could tell you about, but it’s time to take a deep breath and recharge, ready for the most exciting year yet in 10. I hope that you will be a part of that with us as I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and warm happy holidays. Thanks to everyone at GeoSmart and our many partners for helping to make this year the success it has been. We look forward to catching up with you soon.

December 22, 2009 Posted by | 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

Is your business listed in car navigation?

A few weeks ago we advised that you can have a free map of your business location on your website, complete with driving directions from anywhere in New Zealand. A lot of companies have taken us up on our offer and we would love more people to take advantage of it.

Another feature of the AA Maps Bizlocator is that your company location information will also be provided to the major car navigation brands in New Zealand. Even if you don’t have a website, or don’t want a map of your business location on your site, you can still register your business location on the form, which you can find by clicking on the button that says ‘Add Your Business For Free’ on the AA Maps web page.

By completing your information and after validation, your companies details will be included in the Points of Interest data we supply to all the major car navigation brads including Navman, TomTom, Nav N Go, Horizon, BMW, Siemens VDO and more. This means that if people are in their car looking for your type of business, they will be able to find it and be conveniently guided to your door.

It doesn’t matter what your business is, it could be a cafe, a stationery shop, a dentist or pretty much anything. Car navigation systems allow people to search for businesses by category, close to where the car is at the time or close to the destination the driver is going to.

For example, let’s say someone is going to Rotorua for a sporting event and they need to buy some new runners or a spare bike tyre, they can then find your business without any local knowledge or needing the Internet or a phone book.

The service to you is totally free, the only catch is that you have to log on to your free account at AA Maps at least once a year to confirm that your information is still current.

September 15, 2008 Posted by | car navigation, driving, driving directions, gps, maps, new zealand, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment