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Sometimes Size Matters

TomTom Via 620

TomTom have just launched a new 6″ car navigation unit packed with features and a big, high-resolution display that will become a must for truck drivers, people with big hands, or whose eyesight means that a the new big clear display will allow them to relax a bit more when they are driving.

It also comes with 12 quarterly GeoSmart map updates and a free map of Australia. Find out more about it on our Facebook page.

TomTom also came up with some interesting research that whilst most Kiwi’s dream of having a tropical island holiday, nearly half of Kiwis (48%) prefer to have their holiday in New Zealand, followed by Australia (21%). The Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Auckland being the hotspot destinations.

Here come the surprises from TomTom Public Relations Manager Asia-Pacific, Valerie Cross from an international survey:

  • New Zealander’s appear to be the least nature-loving holiday-makers in the world with the smallest amount (14%) of respondents saying they go on holiday to commune with nature.
  • A Kiwi’s favourite part of the holiday appears to be shopping with 66% of respondents keen to browse the shops, over options like visiting beaches (58%) and restaurants (54%).
  • New Zealanders are also some of the easily frustrated when they get lost (22%), nearly twice the global average (13%) and only a close second to our Aussie neighbours (24%).

Ms Cross knocked the hammer squarely on the head, (especially for the Kiwi male) noting “It’s a real Kiwi trait not to ask for help when travelling by car.

Of course our GeoSmart maps road data and Points of Interest are continually being updated with everything from beaches and bays, parking and rest areas, public toilets and ATM’s through to every kind of shop, attraction, place to stay and much more. Your nav really is your travel partner, calmly guiding you to your destination so that you can relax and enjoy your stress free trip.

 

July 4, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, new zealand maps, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the best Car Nav product for New Zealand

Every year or so the Consumer Institute does a test of car navigation products and produces their ranking based on a number of criteria. Almost always the top brands are the ones that use our GeoSmart Maps. In this case the top two products also featured AA Real Time Traffic which got a mention. We believe that in future this will become a standard requirement for all quality car navigation products. First, knowing where to go doesn’t help if the road in your path is obstructed or closed due to accidents or incidents. We have had many incidents throughout New Zealand  in the last couple of weeks which have caused major delays to motorists who weren’t fortunate to have car navigation with Real Time Traffic to warn them.  A recent TV3 News Story with a race including the use of a TomTom Go Live 1000 illustrated that Real Time Traffic can beat conventional routing norms.

AA Traffic Alerts on Car Nav

The latest comparison was no exception to the norm with the top 2 products being from Navman and TomTom, with Navman slightly ahead.

These tests are always subjective and we don’t get the opportunity to comment or assist in these tests. I would like to comment on a few items here.

Firstly these devices have become highly sophisticated and have a wide range of programming options that make it hard to fairly compare devices. Their algorithms are different and they have features that are difficult to compare directly, its a case of apples versus pears and the best unit in my opinion has to do with the functionality you desire rather than the brand.

There was mention on both brands where they were guided to a staff car park at an undisclosed airport. This makes it difficult to respond. We typically provide multiple locations to drive to at major airports, but without knowing what was entered or which airport, we can’t really comment. Several brands including Navman and TomTom use GeoSmart Maps which utilises the same Points of Interest data as used by the popular AA Maps website. This site shows over 40 locations that you can route to just at Wellington Airport, as provided by GeoSmart. Obviously they did make it to the airport and they are all pretty well signposted.

There was a comment with TomTom on the Go Live 1000 about the time it took to get a GPS fix. This is ironic because the TomTom Go Live has a SIM Card in it, and therefore has communications and one of the features of it called QuickGPSFix (TM) , is the ability to download the current GPS satellite locations which means that it is designed (if you use the features correctly) to provide very fast location of satellite positions, which is required for the device to function at its best. There was a comment that some of the devices were placed in awkward positions on the windscreen. This is important because in addition to placing the device where it can be easily seen by the driver, it is also important that the device has the best possible access to the sky in order for the antenna to communicate with the satellites in order to determine its position. Apples with apples should see devices being compared being placed in an identical location on the windscreen in the same type of vehicle.

There was a mention of a product on Trade Me which came with an illegal wall charger and adaptor. There is a thriving trade of devices typically imported from China that have illegally hacked navigation software and illegal copies of car navigation maps. One of these uses GeoSmart data that is already several years old and whilst the software is good, it is also old an not licensed. Whilst these may look like a good value purchase, the software and maps are effectively stolen goods and this is frequently raised with Trade Me. If you buy product that is new, it should be factory sealed and have a serial number. If it is used or not one of the major brands, ask for a copy of the original bill or receipt.

I’ll leave you with 4 points:

1. Understand what functionality you are looking for before you buy a nav device. Read the details on the packaging or read information on company web sites and review sites. Often retail sales people just read off the box themselves. Ask them if they have personally used the devices or attended Product Knowledge  training by the manufacturer.

2. Real Time Traffic. Have you ever been stuck in traffic? Would you have liked the opportunity to be informed and had options before you started driving, or even during the trip so that you could get where you want to go?

3. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Today’s nav devices have very good help screens and tutorials. It is worth spending a little time to learn about what it can do when you first purchase your device because a lot of the ‘problems’ are really lack of user knowledge rather than a failure of the device. Today’s top brands have very highly sophisticated features that may be missed by the owners.

May 10, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get Listed on New Zealand Car Navigation Systems

I noticed that over the weekend someone had located our blog by searching on Google with the query “How to get listed on Car navigation systems”. I’m glad you asked and equally glad you found us because the answer if very easy.

GeoSmart provides the mapping information and Points of Interest (places to go) for the major car navigation brands in New Zealand including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, Metroview and more. In addition to this, we also provide data for lots of other services including cartography and web mapping. The most popular web site we provide data for is AA Maps, which has huge traffic both domestic and international due to the affiliation of the NZ Automobile Association with other motoring associations around the world, so many tourist coming to NZ plan their NZ travel on that site. There are many more of course and some of these are showcased on our home page.

We are also finding many new clients in the mobile space, developing applications for iPhone and Android. They also use Points of Interest, so if you list with us you are very likely, if relevant to find your details on those applications as well, again at no charge to you.

So lets keep this simple. All you need to do is go to either the GeoSmart home page and click on the link:

Or go to the AA Maps home page and click on the icon that looks like this:

Simply follow the instructions that follow, which will allow you to quickly and easily add your business to our database for free.

You will have the ability to accurately identify the location of your business and chose from a selection of categories that represent your business, which is frequently multiple categories. For example a restaurant may also be a cafe and a take away. We will then validate your listing to ensure that you are authorised to make the entry on our database. Your data will then quickly be added to our data which is then updated by our clients and partners including the major car nav brands.

You will also be given the option of a free dynamic map with pan and zoom tools that you can post on your website for free. If people want driving directions to your location they can enter their starting address and be guided via AA Maps with full printable turn by turn directions and maps and even be able to check the real time traffic conditions before they go. All we ask in return is that you log onto your page and ensure your data is up to date at least once a year.

What if you are a chain? No problem, as long as you are authorised to represent your business, you can add as many of your business locations as you wish. Hopefully as a chain, we already have your data, but you may have new branches that we haven’t been told about, or some may have moved location, so please check on the AA Maps website to confirm we have all your current info.

Now that you will be listed on car navigation and in other applications, you can let people know in person, on your website, newsletters and other material, how they can find you. We look forward to helping send business your way.

May 1, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Business Tools, car navigation, driving directions, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, iphone, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, Sales, satnav, software, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GeoSmart’s AA Real Time Traffic Solution beats the traffic for TV3 Commuter

GeoSmart has been developing the AA Traffic Service for a few years now, evolving the old Roadwatch Service to a modern dynamic service which is becoming more sophisticated all the time. Around 12 months ago we updated the Roadwatch website to include accidents, incidents such as slips and flooding, road construction and maintenance. This has made the site incredibly popular when there are storms, long weekends and for any motorists to whom time is important.

In recent times we have added real time traffic congestion flow and are transmitting this data to a number of car navigation devices including Navman, TomTom and the Garmin Asus Android mobile.

One of the most recent developments is the launch of TomTom’s Go Live 1000 and 1050 models with TomTom HD Traffic. New Zealand was the first country outside of Western Europe to launch HD Traffic, because of their confidence in the quality for GeoSmart’s Real Time Traffic information, delivered as AA Traffic. What is most significant and novel about the Go Live is that it comes with a SIM Card and because of this is able to get real time traffic anywhere it can receive a Vodafone connection. It can therefore show you live traffic congestion data overlaid on the road, pretty much anywhere in the country.

AA Traffic Congestion On TomTom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week TV3 reporter Alistair Wilkinson put it to the test by commuting into the station from the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland following the exact instructions from the TomTom based on current traffic conditions. As you can see in the video, he was competing with 2 other cars from the same location. One took the route that Google Maps recommended, the other took a popular route via the motorway and got a good run. In the news story Alistair was very surprised with the route which avoided the motorway. He said “This goes against every bone in my body to go this way to get to work”. Who won? Check the video:

AA Traffic Congestion Flow on the Roadwatch Website

April 1, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving, driving directions, gps, location based services, map tools, new zealand, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with Increasing Oil Prices for your Company Vehicles

In this morning’s NZ Herald, senior AA Analyst Mark Stockdale was quoted By Mathew Dearnaley as saying that there may be further pressure on petrol prices this week. The article pointed out that only part of the oil price increase has been passed on to consumers and the tense situation in Libya and other parts of the Middle East mean that the barrel price of oil could continue to increase dramatically.

It is clear that we have now well and truly crossed the psychological barrier of $2 per litre of 91 Octane petrol in NZ and I would be surprised if we drop below it again even if Saudi increases their oil production as suggested. AA’s Mark Stockdale made some good suggestions on ways to save fuel, all of which made good sense, especially if you own your vehicle and are paying for the fuel yourself.

I’m not saying they don’t make sense for all vehicles, but if the cost comes from your own back pocket and we have now crossed the psychological $2 barrier companies are also going to feel the pain and need to look at ways of saving money on their vehicle running costs.

You will remember the story of how to cook a frog. In 1869 Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that if you put a frog into a pot of water and heated it very slowly, the frog would not attempt to escape. Why he was doing it was another story which you can read here. The anecdote is important because we haven’t fundamentally changed our driving habits. Many of us have lead feet and as lovers of driving and fast cars, users of air conditioning and other features, we waste a lot of fuel. Perhaps the new price increases will make us jump out of the boiling water and modify our driving behaviour.

Many companies have been driving smart for some time. For example, large commercial fleet companies have been running with Fleet Management solutions using GeoSmart Maps for years. Many get total ROI from being able to claim Road User Charge RUC Rebates, which is being able to prove when they are driving on private roads or property. That means that the added benefits are free. Fleet Management uses technology to monitor many aspects of driver behaviour with a view to being able to improve driver training. For example it can monitor aspects such as harsh acceleration and braking, idling time is another aspect that consumes fuel.

Car Navigation is another tool that has been under rated. But lets look at some facts. If it costs over one dollar per km (before the latest fuel price hikes) to drive a relatively small vehicle (not counting staff costs and other items), what does it cost to run commercial vehicles? Can you afford to pay people to drive in circles looking for their next stop?

A new feature in car navigation that we have blogged about before is AA Real Time Traffic. This is a service that provides real time information advising of accidents, incidents and real time congestion covering all of New Zealand. This service is available on AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and as well as TXT and Email Alerts. What is really exciting is that you can now get this information direct to you car navigation devices including selected models from brands including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, and Pantera. This page shows how it works. If you consider how much time you have spent in congested traffic, wouldn’t it be great if you could be informed about incidents before you get stuck behind them. Note AA Traffic doesn’t just cover State Highways, it covers all arterials as well, so only really leaves out small residential streets. We are now discussing how to get this information into the Fleet Dispatch rooms of freight, distribution and service companies who are managing vehicle fleets and could better manage their operations if they can see their vehicles and the traffic incidents concurrently on the same map.

You may have noticed a number of references to the NZ Automobile Association. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZAA and as such are very much involved in helping NZ motorists, consumer and business and the initiatives in this blog outline many of our activities in this space.

Route Optimisation is another tool that has suddenly gained popularity. GeoSmart has offered these services for around 5 years. In effect the concept is that if you have a number of vehicles, we can tell you what order they should do their stops in, in order to drive the least distance and time. This doesn’t just take the shortest route, it takes into consideration aspects such as which roads have the least number of stops, the speed zones, the angles of corners, turn restrictions and more. It is a complex and involved problem which we have automated into an application that can be run from a web browser on a pay as you go basis. We blogged about this last week when we first heard of the $2 jump.

We made the offer of a fee trial whereby we will use Route2GO for free over up to 5 previous runs to allow you to compare the route driven, with what our recommendations would be. Many of the results have been astounding with time improvements of between half an hour and 2 hours on a run, with significant savings in fuel and other overheads, as well as the ability to do more work in the same day without an increase in fixed overheads. That offer is still available and of course the payback is now significantly increased.

So, if you have company vehicles that are more than just commuters, you may like to contact us and have a chat about how we can help. You can email us for information or a flyer or contact me (Luigi Cappel) direct on 09 9668768. We would love to help you save money, increase productivity and profit and remain competitive in the marketplace. Many companies will be forced to increase their prices and this will of course impact on inflation. On the other hand companies who work smarter could keep their prices the same or in some cases even reduce them. Historically those companies have increased their market share and in some cases taken over weaker competitors who didn’t think smart.

There are a few choices. One of them is to suffer and complain, the better one might be to contact us and see how we or are partner companies can help you prosper despite the difficult times.

I like the saying that there are 3 types of people and businesses. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Which are you?

March 6, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, satnav, software, territory management, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christchurch Traffic Map

Our AA Traffic team has been flat out updating road closures and incidents in our system for the AA Maps and AA Roadwatch websites as well as car navigation (specified models of Navman, TomTom and Garmin Asus) and subscription alerts nationwide, but have also done a lot of work to provide quality information for the Canterbury area. This includes the Earthquake Cordon Zone. Its well worth bookmarking if you are travelling around the area as where possible, we do also include real time traffic flow.

Whilst we have been told by many people that they have been very impressed with our data quality, we would like to point out:

1.       All Road condition reports for Christchurch is provided to the AA by a number of 3rd parties .

2.       As all of these Agencies in the Christchurch area are inundated with Earthquake recovery, the information we are receiving may not be current.

3.       We are unable to guarantee accurate driving directions for the Christchurch Area as conditions are changing rapidly.

4.       Our advice to all motorists is not to drive in the earthquake affected areas unless absolutely necessary.

5.       Expect significant delays and ensure all precautions are taken to avoid accidents.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, Garmin Asus, gps, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

GeoSmart adds Live Traffic Flow Data to AA Maps and Roadwatch online and TomTom Go Live

Over the last 8 months we have been building an environment that allows us to capture live traffic flow data from thousands of vehicles that are tracked using Fleet Management systems from our number of our business partners as part of our AA Traffic solution.  Over the last 4 years we have been refining web sites such as AA Maps and AA Roadwatch adding all sorts of web map features such as road conditions, accidents, road construction and maintenance, live airport timetables, live Cook Straight Ferry information and more.

This is a continuous work in progress, but today we have turned on our most exciting feature to date, which is live real time traffic flow and congestion data covering all major roads and arterials throughout New Zealand. You can view this exciting feature on both AA Maps and AA Roadwatch, simply by clicking on the Traffic drop down menu on the top right of the page and selecting Traffic Flow. You can then either zoom in on the map to the area of your choice or click on the traffic light icon to zoom in to the city of your choice.

The data you will be viewing will be up to date to within 5 minutes. This is going to become a very useful tool for motorists whether they are going on a trip, or simply heading out for business meetings, or off to a concert or sporting match. We have also made some other changes to this service, allowing you to selectively view incidents by a wider range of categories, which are:

  • Reopened Roads. In the past it was easy to see when a road was closed, but not as intuitive when the road reopened. This is now a new category highly visible with its green icon.
  • Critical Incidents
  • Moderate Incidents has now separated
  • Minor Incidents which were often road shoulder maintenance or situations that frequently didn’t seriously impact traffic flow

We have also added more webcams. There is a lot more happening in January February that I can’t tell you about yet, so keep an eye on our blog to find out more.

The other very cool thing that has happened is that due to the high quality of our AA Traffic by GeoSmart data TomTom has launched their Go Live 1000 and Go Live 1050 in New Zealand, the first country outside of Western Europe. This means that people who purchase these devices, which have a Vodafone SIM Card in them can get not only real time incident data, but also real time flow data on them. This is an amazing feature which will advise you of the expected time delay on your journey caused by traffic congestion and if appropriate offer you an alternate route. For those people who say they don’t need car nav because they know their way, they don’t know what the traffic is like ahead of them.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving, driving directions, geosmart, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TomTom now has a Kiwi Voice

Over the years many people have mentioned that they wish car navigation devices had a Kiwi accent that they can relate to.  We told you in our September blog that TomTom was running a competition to find that special iconic voice. Well it’s a done deal as told in this NZ Herald article. Ben Harper (no not the musician) has won himself a new Suzuki Swift RS and a new TomTom. We are told that you will be able to download his voice in time for your Christmas road trip.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | car navigation, competition, competitions, driving directions, geosmart, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Support for Mobile Location Based Apps in New Zealand

Are you developing applications for mobiles such as iPhone, Android or Windows Phone 7? Do they have a location aspect to them? If so, we would like to help and perhaps partner with you.

We have the only fully driven road centreline of all roads in New Zealand and a range of web services and API’s designed to help you with your application development. No maps aren’t all created equal and while overseas companies offer maps of New Zealand, if accuracy and quality is important for your application you might like to read on a little.

The New Zealand road network was originally designed in Scotland in the 1800’s. Many of the roads were never constructed, but they have a legal status and are known as Paper Roads. These roads have a legal status and therefore exist to some degree on traditional map datasets used by many mapping companies. This of course produces many problems when it comes to providing turn by turn driving directions, whether that is in car navigation or in an application that provides directions.  Imagine driving at night or in bad weather and being told to turn right into a farm paddock or perhaps through a farm gate.  If your application is providing linked directions from A to B and part of the sequence doesn’t make sense, you have a problem, Houston.

GeoSmart has many web services and API’s and good developer documentation including examples and tutorials on our Developer Page. I won’t go into detail here because you can find them there. It is also worth having a look at our flagship website which is AA Maps. AA Maps uses many of our tools, most of which can also be used on a mobile, for example:

  • Search for street names and numbers, places, Points of Interest
  • Proximity Search
  • Turn by turn directions from A to B to C (and the ability to swap the order and recalculate)
  • Real Time Traffic Incidents
  • Search for Points of Interest by category
  • Terrain View
  • Reverse Geocoding (finding the nearest address to a set of coordinates)
  • Route Optimisation

There is no cost for a Developer Agreement and we have a number of commercial models based on the opportunity. If you are developing an application that is location based in New Zealand, we would like to help and we know New Zealand best because we have driven every public road and many private roads in the country.That’s why when companies such as TomTom, Navman, NZ Automobile Association to name a few, who are not prepared to compromise on quality and accuracy come to us. To see more sites developed using our API’s and Web Services, check out the Showcase sites on our home page for some examples.

if you are looking at building location based apps of any sort, for browser or mobile, contact us now so we can discuss how we can help.

October 8, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, iphone, lbs, lbs games, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, social networking, software, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be the Kiwi Voice of TomTom

TomTom New Zealand is running a very cool competition together with The Edge radio station. Have you ever thought about what you would say if you could control the voice on your nav unit. Move over John Cleese and Homer Simpson bro, it’s time for a Kiwi voice.

Over the next few weeks you have the opportunity to enter a competition which will decide not only whose voice will end up as the voice of New Ziilund, but every day someone will win a TomTom and the grand prize winner will win a Suzuki Swift. You can listen to the entries on The Edge competition page, such as yesterday’s TomTom winner “Sweet As” and the Suzuki is being kitted up as a recording studio and doing a road trip around New Zealand where you can meet it and record your TomTom GPS voice.

The TomTom road trip starts in Invercargill on Monday 4 October and works its way up to Northland on 15 October. You can of course also enter online.

So put on your best Kiwi accent and join the fun.

Carl Fletcher and Vaughan Smith, hosts of The EDGE Fletch & Vaughan show, have already put their hands up to potentially become voices and are excited to find the person to be the new TomTom GPS voice of New Zealand.

“I mean imagine being THE voice that is chosen as most iconically Kiwi, how much of an ego boost is that? Your voice could be the voice that represents all Kiwis and is used worldwide by anyone with a TomTom GPS.  We have so many unique sayings that we can throw in there as well to really Kiwi it up, I mean there’s ‘sweet as bro,’ ‘choice eh’…and then the classics like ‘yeah yeah…nah’.  It’s going to be an epic campaign, with an epic prize to boot,” says Fletch.

Of course TomTom use GeoSmart Maps on their systems, because they have to have the best:)

September 29, 2010 Posted by | car navigation, competition, competitions, driving directions, geosmart, gps, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, satnav, tomtom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment