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Route Optimisation for Retail Merchandisers

In the last few blogs I have been writing about route optimisation for retail delivery vehicles, using a furniture shop as an example of how to to achieve significant return on investment. Of course the principles apply to commercial travellers.

Take the example of a retail merchandiser. There are hundreds of people travelling around the country daily visiting supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies, liquor stores and pretty much every type of retail store. A large percentage of these people have a mix of urban and rural stores in their sales territory that they visit on cycles. Some of them are regular cycles that they repeat periodically, others may be more ad hoc.

Typically retail merchandisers change jobs or territories fairly often, which means that they will not be familiar with where their clients are, or what the best order is to visit them in. They are often under a lot of pressure to make as many visits in a day or on a trip as possible.

Route2GO is the perfect tool for these people and their Managers. Just like the retail delivery people in the last blogs, there are many factors that determine Return On Investment.

The first and most obvious one is travel distance and time. The obvious one is to look at a day’s calls, calculating the best order to do the visits in, putting in the start location which could be the office, warehouse or even the person’s home and then the end location. If it is local and just a day trip, it is going to be pretty easy to calculate the order. This will provide travel time and distance. It could also include driving directions.

If it is a longer trip which includes overnight stays, you could look at the entire trip as if it was on one day to optimise the entire trip and then cut it into chunks for each day. One of the things that is often difficult for a traveller is estimating the travel times. Barring traffic accidents, congestion etc, we can provide a very good estimate of travel time. The traffic information itself we also provide by way of the Roadwatch and AA Maps websites. For $1.95 you can also subscribe to real time traffic alerts which you can receive by SMS or email for a 4-day trip at AA Traffic. This would give you some advance warning if there are any real issues. For example over the last couple of months, many highways including State Highway 1 have had road closures due to slips and floods. Being forewarned means that you can plan ahead.

Now that you know the travel time from one retailer to the next, you can start to do some planning. In merchandising their are obviously a variety of types of call. Some are easy to plan because it is simply shelf management and the merchandiser will know which products are ranged and have an idea of how much time a call will take. In some cases they don’t even need to see the manager. By doing a spreadsheet similar to the one in this blog, you can get a pretty good idea of what you can achieve.

Obviously where there is actual selling going on, or even getting orders signed, there can be extra delays, waiting to see the buyer and time on site will vary. This comes down to experience.

As per previous examples, the immediate tangible ROI is that Route2GO can tell you the best order to make the visits in and advise you of time and distance. This can save you tie and money and we invite you to contact us and send us a couple of trips in the order they were done in and we can optimise them and return them to you so you can see the order we would recommend and what the savings would be. There is no cost or obligation to you for this evaluation.

The next obvious benefit is establishing whether, with the time saved, you can either make more calls in a day or maximise the time spent on the calls to find ways to generate more revenue. Perhaps managing shelf facings, recommending new products or doing product knowledge training. We all know that if you don’t manage your shelf facings, they can shrink as your competitors products squeeze them out. Another issue is out of stocks. In today’s economy many retailers manage their inventory on a Just In Time basis. That means that if you do not meet your call cycle, you could have a situation where you are not only missing out of sales, but the out of stock situation could be introducing the retailers’ customers to your competitors alternatives.

Optimising and planning your trips, especially out of the city means that you can also do some advance planning, making appointments with buyers, with a reasonable degree of certainty as to when they can expect you. This is of course a professional way of doing business that will help your customer relationships and give you a competitive advantage. Lets face it, everyone is extra busy these days and the easier you are to do business with, the more likely you are to get an unfair share of the shelf space.

Probably the best part of Route2GO is that it is really easy to use. You don’t need a specialist, just the ability to create a list, with addresses of the customers you intend to visit. There is no up front cost, you pay as you go, which means that it pays for itself from day one. Why not give it a try for your next trip?

October 5, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Delivery, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, petrol, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, Sales, software, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Route Optimisation for Retail Deliveries Return On Investment Part Two

In my previous blog I talked about the immediate dollar benefits of reordering your retail furniture deliveries so that you would drive the least distance, saving both time and money. I gave examples of actual returns using GeoSmart’s Route2GO Lite application which is designed for anyone to use. In other words, you don’t need to be a computer geek to be able to use it. You need to understand your business.

I gave the example of getting up to 1200% ROI on a single run and this is genuinely achievable. But there are so many more benefits to be had. Lets have a look at some of these.

First if you combine the knowledge of how long it is going to take to get from the shop or warehouse to each customer, you will be able to work out how much work the vehicle can do in the trip or in a day. This has a number of benefits. Firstly it provides clarity for sales people and the sales counter of what deliveries can be achieved in a day. Imagine if a customer came into your shop wanting to buy a bedroom suite as they have guests coming in the weekend. If you can’t guarantee delivery, your store loses the sale. That being the case, the sales person loses commission, your competitor gets your sale and the would be customer will be telling people not to visit your store, even if you have great product for a great price.

In the optimised example below, we have identified not only the driving time for each job, but based on experience, how long the driver would typically be on site unloading the truck and carrying the product into the customer’s home or premises. This is of course very important when planning the entire day.

The next thing that is really important for consumers is some sort of certainty as to when the truck will arrive with their treasured new purchase. They want the experience to be gratifying and they don’t want to be waiting around in the morning for someone who isn’t going to arrive in the afternoon.

Now you can actually provide some clarity. you wouldn’t of course tell Mrs Smith that her new bed will arrive at 9:43 AM, but it would be fair to say it should arrive between 9:30 and 10:30 or perhaps 11AM allowing you to under promise and over deliver. She may have had to take time off from work to be home for the delivery. We always hear complaints about delivery people who don’t turn up when promised and the flush of excitement can quickly turn into anger and frustration.

Deliver as promised and you don’t just have a happy customer today, you have a customer advocate who will be back at your store next time she is open to buy furniture and will be recommending you to her friends. People don’t buy furniture every day, but they may do so dozens of times during the lifetime of your business. There are loads of stories showing that people favour service ahead of price, so these repeat customers will also possibly be very profitable customers who will haggle less and make a decision more quickly because they like and trust your business.

Of course the delivery people will be much happier too. Who wants to deliver to a customer who is telling them off for not arriving on time. They are just doing their job, probably what they have been told to do. They don’t need to have their day soured by unnecessarily unhappy customers.

Because we know the order we are going to do the deliveries in, we can also produce a document that tells us how to load the truck in reverse order.

Lets face it, furniture is heavy and it makes a lot of sense to handle each item once onto the truck and once getting it off. There’s no benefit in having to move things around every time the truck stops, its inefficient, hard work and wastes time.

A list like this makes life easy for the truck driver and also for the warehouse staff, ensuring that all items get on the truck in the correct order. All it actually is, is the delivery list in reverse order. That’s what this is ultimately what this is about. It’s not rocket science, yet we do need a computer to work out the optimisation because the driver doesn’t know every one way street, no right turn, median strips where the truck can’t do a U-turn.

So now we have paid a few dollars to use this application on the web. We can see that we have enough resource to do some more deliveries if we get some more sales, which will inspire confidence in the sales staff. You get happy loyal customers who will come back and spend more with you and tell their friends to do the same. You can provide a better service than your competitors and your staff will be happy in their work knowing that their day will be less complicated and they will have happy customers.

The best part is you don’t have to take our word for it. Give us a few of your old runs in the order that you did them in and we will optimise them for you for free to prove our point. No cost, no risk, no obligation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not contact us now?

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Delivery, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, new zealand, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, Sales, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Furniture Shops can Save Time and Money on Deliveries with Route2GO Lite

Do you have delivery vehicles? How would you like to be able to do more deliveries in a day just by being a bit smarter? It’s expensive running a truck, especially in the city where traffic congestion is a given most days of the week. In the furniture business you may have a plan of which areas you will deliver to on certain days of the week. That’s a plan, but if a customer says he will only buy that expensive lounge suite if you deliver it tomorrow, do you walk away from the business? Times are better than I thought if you can do that.

In this industry and today’s economy a furniture store or chain needs to be smart, deliver on its promises and be competitive.

So what does your vehicle truly cost you to operate. Your accountant should be able to give you information on the total cost of ownership for your trucks or vans per annum. This includes depreciation, maintenance, petrol and oil, road user charges if applicable, insurance, tyres and other consumables and of course petrol. You will know the distance the vehicle has driven over the 1 year period, so can come up with a per km cost for this vehicle. So now divide the total cost of the vehicle for one year by the kilometres driven and you have your per km rate. This is important because you can’t calculate your return on investment on a service without knowing what your initial costs are. This of course doesn’t include the costs of the driver and possibly second staff person required in the truck because much furniture is to bulky or heavy for one person to manage.

A key problem with furniture delivery is that no two days are the same. This means that you can’t just plan a route out and repeat it. Each day you need to prepare a new run sheet and rely on someone to put it into an appropriate order. Sounds easy and obviously this is what people are doing every day. The problem is that, even with a printed road map, you may not know about one way streets, no right turns, dual carriageways where you can’t do a U-Turn and so on. We are currently working through some recent daily run sheets for a medium sized furniture retailer. The very first run sheet we processed through Route2GO, the optimised route was half of the distance of the route they did. It cut down their driving time for the day’s work by about an hour, meaning they could have easily done two more deliveries in the same amount of time.

So what skills do you need to be able to use Route2GO Lite? The minimum is the ability to correctly spell the street names you are going to and to follow the instructions in our user manual. You enter the addresses you are going to and we tell you what order to do them in.It can be as simple as that. If you have someone on staff that has basic spreadsheet skills, you can do so much more.

You can load the truck in reverse order so you’re not wasting time re-handling the furniture on the truck each time you stop. You can do much more and we’re going to tell you more about it in this blog. You can also get some more information on our web site. Best thing you can do is talk to us about your business. you can contact Luigi Cappel on phone 09 9668 768, or email luigi.cappel@geosmart.co.nz. Send us a job sheet for a run you have already done and let us check it for you. We’ll tell you whether we think we could have suggested a better route. Want to try it for yourself, we can set you up with a free trial so you can see how it works for your business.

Subscribe to this blog if this is of interest because I am going to come back and provide more information about how this can help your business grow. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, you just have to have the desire to increase productivity and profit and provide a competitive level of service that will have your customers coming back for more and recommending you to their friends. Now check out where the tangible ROI comes from.

Finally remember that the companies who are best prepared in tough times are going to profit the most when the economy picks up. We want to help you. You understand the furniture trade, we understand New Zealand roads and how best to get around them.

September 21, 2010 Posted by | Route2GO, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

GeoSmart seeks channel partners and Systems Integrators for Route²GO Lite

We have had a route optimisation  product Route²GO for several years, but it has been at the complex end and designed for companies with a skilled IT department or systems integrators who typically work with Fleet Management companies such as Navman Wireless. This is great for the big guys who can cost justify a semi bespoke integration into their legacy systems or a new installation, but that doesn’t fit most companies in New Zealand.

We have just completed a new product called Route²GO Lite. This product can work stand-alone for people that have database skills and we are happy to offer it to companies who can deal with it, however what we are really looking for is companies who already have solutions that support people who travel in the field, mostly for business purposes of some sort. Route²GO Lite can add value to your application and of course we offer a generous income stream for software companies and channel partners who wish to add value to their products and services. It is a SAAS (Software as a Service) product and the pricing is based around usage of the services, with pricing scaled around volume usage. Please contact us to discuss how this can work for you.

Route²GO Lite has 2 components. The first component is geocoding. Geocoding is essentially generating spatial co-ordinates for each location (usually a street address, but could be anywhere, for example a jetty or a park bench for pizza delivery). Essentially a CSV file is uploaded and those addresses that don’t already have co-ordinates will have them added. The second component is identifying in which order to make the stops on a trip.

This in itself is wonderful, but software developers and systems integrators can make it far more relevant to the specific industry segment or activity, adding serious value to their products and solutions and providing a great ROI for their customers, and thereby improving client retention and increasing new sales and revenue opportunities. Future blogs will discuss more specifics about value adds. You might like to subscribe to or bookmark this blog.

Our target is to partner with companies who develop or sell and set up software solutions. Examples of the type of applications we are looking for are:

  • Sales Force Automation – Sales is often about how many visits you can make in a day, especially for merchandisers and travelling sales people.
  • Routine Delivery / Swap Out Services – This would also be a classic case for many repeat delivery type sales situations, for example delivery and exchange of gas bottles, water bottles etc. Also time critical runs such as medical test samples, the list goes on. Most business these days requires a degree of software to automate their operations, but they are usually focussed on business imperatives rather than the location logistics which are a major factor in the timeliness and quality of service.
  • Field Service Automation – There are many aspects to the field service such as Preventative Maintenance (PM) visits where time is the difference between being competitive and profitable or not. This includes meter reading, building inspections, security system maintenance, air conditioning maintenance, an endless variety of industries.
  • CRM – A lot of customer relationships are about visits.
  • Retail specialist Point of Sale – There are many software applications designed for retail stores such as furniture, appliances and other large items that require delivery. They are often good at recording the sale, collecting the delivery address etc, but there are challenges around charging a fair price for the delivery, giving the customer an estimate of when to expect the delivery etc. Route²GO Lite would replace the traditional bullseye method of doing deliveries which often can’t reflect the actual driving distance.

  • Taxi despatch applications. There are often situations where a taxi van has to pick up and drop off a number of people to different locations. It could be picking up elderly people to go to their hospital appointments, taking special needs children to school, picking up people to go to or from the airport. All of these situations can benefit from optimisation to reduce distance, time and stress, which all impact on the quality of the service, often with serious implications.
  • Security Industry software. What’s the best order for travelling security personnel for checking business locations? This can determine how many staff are needed to meet contractual obligations and provide the best service.
  • ERP and Logistics. There are many applications of all sizes from massive to small that automate the value chain in a business. Most businesses ultimately have an element that involves vehicles making several stops in one run. These solutions are designed to work together with 3rd party applications and plugins.
  • Accounting Software. On a per capita basis New Zealand has a phenomenal number of different accounting packages. Most of these support export and import of data from other sources, probably all of them support CSV import and export which is where Route²GO Lite excels.

If you have a software application that supports any of the industries listed above, or support these tpes of businesses please contact us to discuss how we can work with you. GeoSmart wants to help.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Delivery, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Route2GO Improving Productivity and Profit for New Zealand Companies

GeoSmart has just released a new version of  Route²GO as a web service, providing vehicle route optimisation for company fleets as small as one vehicle, but scalable to any size of fleet.

This new service is based on what we know of in the industry as The Travelling Salesman problem. In effect if I have x number of places to visit in a day, what is the most economic order to do them in?

Typically route optimisation involves buying an expensive piece of software that only large companies (by NZ standards) can afford, together with employing an expensive engineer to run it. GeoSmart has now released the same technology as a web service, pricing for which is transaction based. This means that it can be used by a furniture store with 1 truck, as easily as for a large company with many vehicles.

There is a small amount of work involved in order to access the web service, which can be done by web developers or anyone who understands how a web service works. It could be merged with something as simple as a spreadsheet, or tied in to a legacy application. It would work very nicely with a range of applications from CRM, Accounting Software, ERP, dispatch and more.

For technical details on how Route²GO works, please visit our Developer Pages. For examples and more information on the benefits, we have information here.

Now we are looking for NZ partners. We do not typically sell solutions to end users. We work with partners who can add this service as a value add into their solution, or perhaps even create a new niche solution. We have some partners already in this space, including companies like Gen-i and Navman Wireless, but we are also keen to find more.

Many products have a long ROI period, which makes them hard to sell, especially in today’s economy. Pricing for Route²GO is transaction based. This means that until you start using it, you pay nothing. Pricing is also scaled based on volume over a year and also the amount of detail in our output. The cheapest result is simply the order to drive the visits in, with the option of estimated driving time and distance for each stop. The next step includes turn by turn driving instructions and the full monte includes the ability to view and print out full turn by turn directions complete with route and locational maps, that can be panned and zoomed before printing or importing into an application.

What skills do you need? If you can structure a query as outlined here, then you have the requisite experience. We offer a free Developer Agreement to companies looking to partner with us. There are no costs associated in developing a solution or testing with this web service.

We are happy to meet with potential partners or clients, to discuss their needs and help them find the best solution both in the web service and the integration, but our part stops at that point as we do not compete with our channel.

Want to know more? Contact us.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | AA Maps, car navigation, Delivery, driving, driving directions, Freight, geosmart, GIS, gps, lbs, location based services, map tools, maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, optmisation, route optimisation, 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

Free New Zealand web cartography tools for educational and non-commercial purposes.

Free New Zealand web cartography tools for educational and non-commercial purposes.

As the Gold Sponsor for GeoCart’2008, the National Cartography Conference at Auckland University from 1-3 September, GeoSmart Maps Ltd General Manager Phil Allen has announced that GeoSmart is offering a set of web tools for web cartographers for use free of charge for educational and non-commercial use. He will outline these in a presentation at the conference on Wednesday 3 September.

“As the leading supplier of commercial cartographic products in New Zealand, we would like to encourage development of new applications,” said Phil Allen. “There are so many opportunities for people to develop wonderful web and mobile applications and we have the API’s and web services, as well as a wealth of geo-spatial data about New Zealand. “

The tools GeoSmart is making available include:

· Web mapping API

· Points of Interest API

· Geocoding and reverse geocoding web services

· Directions API

· Route Optimisation API

· Vector Graphics API

· Map datasets (NZ map base, Cadastral map base, Census map base)

Using such tools, web cartographers can build complex web, Location Based Services (LBS) and Mobile based GIS solutions such as; Carbon footprints for businesses by measuring the journey times of staff going to and from work and including their business activities to computing calorie burn when a user creates a walk/cycle/running route. The tools include all of the APIs required and a set of maps with many code examples. Allen’s paper will present these tools and advise how educational institutes and the web cartography community at large can take advantage of these for promoting and enhancing our industry.

For more information please contact Luigi Cappel luigi.cappel@geosmart.co.nz

August 29, 2008 Posted by | car navigation, carbon footprint, cartography, driving, driving directions, gps, maps, new zealand, route optimisation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Travelling Salesman Problem

GeoSmart now has a solution available for people wanting to know which order to visit their clients in, so that they can keep time and travel costs to a minimum. This is a form of Route Optimisation known as the Travelling Salesman Problem. GeoSmart also offers complex Route Optimisation under the banner of Route2GO, but that is another story.

With the price of petrol now permanently above NZ$2 a litre and time at a premium, this tool can easily assist people in making the most of their travel.  It could be a delivery truck working out the order of their deliveries and in reverse order how to load the truck. It could be a sales person working out the best way to make their sales calls.

In the illustration you can see that we set the first and last addresses as fixed. In other words we are defining where we start and finish for the day, they don’t have to be the same, the last one could be a motel yo are staying at for the night and the first one might be your home or office. You could just fix the start point and be flexible on the end point and then go to the AA Maps website to decide where to stay for the night and even make the booking before you leave.

In the illustration, the sales person guessed an order in which to do the calls, but the optimised route cut 34km from the route and at the (adjustable) per km rate resulted in savings of $10 on the trip.

This tool doesn’t just have to be used for a set of destinations. It could also be used as a trip/price calculator. For example one of our new clients is putting this tool (slightly modified so that you can’t edit the price per km which only he can do on his site) so that people can get their own quote on a delivery job without having to ring the company.

Many companies pay staff or contractors on the basis of an agreed distance, it could be for commuting, or for visiting clients, patients etc. This tool can calculate the ‘fastest’ route between clients and will deliver a consistent result that can reduce arguments and deliver an equitable result.

There are other standard features to this tool, for example click on any of the letters denoting locations and the map will instantly zoom to that location so you can see it better. The maps are dynamic and do of course have full pan and zoom functionality.

This optimisation is possible because GeoSmart has a full turn restriction database for New Zealand so when it calculates these directions it knows all about one-way streets, dual carriageways, no right turn, no left turn etc. This is in fact the same database used by te leading car navigation brands including TomTom, Navman, Siemens VDO, BMW, Ford, Honda,Horizon and Nav N Go.

If you have a route optimisation problem, please send us an email to info@geosmart .co.nz or follow the directions on our Contact Page.

June 16, 2008 Posted by | car navigation, cartography, Delivery, driving, Freight, gps, maps, new zealand, petrol, Sales | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment