Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Has NASA discovered Alien Life????

Has NASA discovered extraterrestrial life?

Here's a curious press release from NASA:
NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.
I did a little research on the news conference participants and found:
1. Pamela Conrad (a geobiologist) was the primary author of a 2009 paper on geology and life on Mars
2. Felisa Wolfe-Simon (an oceanographer) has written extensively on photosynthesis using arsenic recently (she worked on the team mentioned in this article)
3. Steven Benner (a biologist) is on the "Titan Team" at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; they're looking at Titan (Saturn's largest moon) as an early-Earth-like chemical environment. This is likely related to the Cassini mission.
4. James Elser (an ecologist) is involved with a NASA-funded astrobiology program called Follow the Elements, which emphasizes looking at the chemistry of environments where life evolves (and not just looking at water or carbon or oxygen).
So, if I had to guess at what NASA is going to reveal on Thursday, I'd say that they've discovered arsenic on Titan and maybe even detected chemical evidence of bacteria utilizing it for photosynthesis (by following the elements). Or something like that. (thx, sippey)
By Jason Kottke

Google Earth 6 Improves Street View, Historical Imagery, and Adds (Millions of) 3D Trees

Google Earth has always had an incredible "wow" factor. But the newly-released Google Earth 6, in Google's own words, takes "realism in the virtual globe to the next level." This version adds two new features, an integrated Street View experience and 3D trees, and also makes it easier to browse historical imagery associated with a specific location.
Google Earth provides a wealth of computer-generated building models, but Google notes that trees have been "rather hard to come by." In the service of boosting the realism substantially of the 3D world substantially, today's Google Earth release includes models for dozens of species of trees. Google says it's already "planted" over 80 million trees in Google Earth.
With the launch of the Alcatel-Lucent Developer Platform, Alcatel-Lucent provides service providers and enterprises with tools that enable third-party developers to build, test, manage and distribute applications across networks, including television, broadband Internet and mobile.

Street View isn't a new feature for Google Earth. It's been available since 2008. But the experience is now fully integrated, so you can zoom from the outer space view of Earth smoothly and seamlessly to your doorstep. Simply drag Pegman, the Street View mascot, onto any place where you see a blue highlighted road, an indication that Street View is available. And from there you can use the navigation controls to move around.
Like Street View, the availability of historical imagery via Google Earth isn't entirely new. But this release makes these images far easier to find. When you fly to an area where images are available, the date of the oldest imagery will appear in the status bar. Clicking on it will transport you to that view, and you can browse through other images for that location.

Click link for demo


Friday, 26 November 2010

Mildly Funny Video Google Maps, is this the Future????

I found this mildly amusing for a Friday lunchtime:


Tha Father of GIS

Roger Tomlinson changed the face of geography as a discipline when he introduced geographic information system technology (GIS) in the late 1960s, which scans maps into a computer and allows data built into those maps to be analyzed along with related statistical information about the region.

This meant mapping the whole environment – not just physical landmarks, but population patterns, animal migration routes and land suitable for tourism, compiled together for ease of reference.
It began during a chance encounter with Lee Pratt, then head of Canada Land Inventory, on a flight from Ottawa to Toronto in 1961. Mr. Pratt was tasked with developing a comprehensive map of one million square miles of Canadian land, and took to Mr. Tomlinson’s ideas during the chance meeting. Mr. Tomlinson’s work on that project evolved into the Canada Geographic Information System, and Canada the became the first country in the world to have a computerized GIS.
Mr. Tomlinson’s mapping system is the enabler of our modern computer mapping and global positioning systems. It laid the foundation for Google Maps and GPS receivers in cars.
The Ottawa-born geographic information systems are now used in over 400,000 institutions in more than 135 countries; far from being just an academic success, millions of people are now involved in the $51-billion per year industry.

Mr. Tomlinson is the recipient of The Geospatial Information & Technology Association’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honour the association can bestow, which recognizes an individual’s lifelong contributions and long-standing commitment to the geospatial industry. He is the principal of Tomlinson Associates, Ltd., Consulting Geographers; clients have included the World Bank, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Open Government Data - Stakeholders Survey go to: http://survey.lod2.eu

Blogged FYI.....I guess it makes sense to re tweet this is your interested

Dear Sir/Madam, http://survey.lod2.eu

We are inviting you to participate in a survey about open government data. This is part of the European funded LOD2 project, a significant part of which is focused on creating free and open source tools and services to make it easier to find and reuse open government data.

If you are interested in government information (whether as a publisher, producer, re-user or consumer) we would be very grateful for 10-15 minutes of your time to express your views about what you would like to see from the technology the LOD2 project is developing.

The survey will be open until the 17th December 2010 and can be accessed here: http://survey.lod2.eu

If you have any questions or issues about the survey please don't hesitate to contact the responsible person, Martin Kaltenböck by e-mail: m.kaltenboeck@semantic-web.at

Thank you very much.
Yours sincerely,

Martina Eydner
European Commission
Directorate-General Information Society and Media
Directorat E - Unit E2 - Technologies for Information Management
(EUFO 1-294)
Jean Monnet Building
Rue Alcide de Gasperi
L-2920 Luxembourg
tel.:  (+352) 4301 32615
fax: (+352) 4301 38099

"The views expressed are purely those of the writer and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission."

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Microsoft Hires World's Leading Geo-Dissident to Join Bing Maps Team

OpenStreetMap is a global map edited by volunteers, like the Wikipedia of the mapping world. Founded in 2004, the project is a fascinating collection of local knowledge and is a lot of fun to participate in. Last month OpenStreetMap founder Steve Coast announced that he was leaving for-profit Cloud Made, the primary company behind OSM. Today he announced where he's going next: to be a Principal Architect at Bing Maps.

Reaction in the mapping community has been mixed but this is a move that will be talked about for a long time. With the rise of location-aware mobile devices and platforms for processing massive amounts of data, including location data, geo technology is poised to grow far more important than it already is today.
Coast is a giant figure in the mapping world. In 2009, readers of leading geo publication Directions Magazine voted him the 2nd most influential person in the geospatial world, ahead of the Google Maps leadership and behind only Jack Dangermond, the dynamic founder of 41-year old $2 billion GIS company ESRI. Coast will turn 30 years old next month.

As an open alternative to proprietary world maps, and to Google, big companies have lent technical and financial support to make sure that OpenStreetMap (OSM) thrives. You can participate in it yourself with a click of a button - the OSM map of the area around my house, for example, displays churches, bus stops, traffic speed bumps and more. I've added historical markers and other information myself.
As part of the deal, Bing is donating access to its distortion-free aerial photos of the world to the Open Street Maps community. This Summer, Bing Maps added an OpenStreetMap layer to its offerings.
Seeing OSM's leader join the corporate megalith Microsoft hasn't made everyone in the mapping community happy, however. Leading GIS blogger Glenn Letham tweeted this morning that he "dang near spit coffee out of my nose," when he saw the news.
Letham wrote on his blog today:

Indeed this is big news for the OSM community and the open source movement, however, one does have to wonder how this can impact the development and the future of OSM... I mean think about it, we now have AOL (Mapquest) and Microsoft buying up the talent that spurred all this innovation but these are companies that ultimately are responsible to the shareholders. I guess we'll be hearing more down the road about OSM mapping tools and apps running on the Win 7 mobile platform and then there's Google... I wonder who Google will be looking to hire from the OSM camp??
Coast on his blog tried to preempt such concern by writing:

Of course, this doesn't mean Microsoft 'owns' OpenStreetMap any more than CloudMade or MapQuest do with the significant resources those firms have put in to making a better map with OSM. OSM continues to be independent as it always will be, and I will continue in my roles to push the OSM cause forward.
Geo blogger James Fee puts Coast's move in the context of battling giants and says it's going to be a win for users.

Makes you wonder about Google's choice to roll their own now doesn't it? How quickly Google's map looks like it will be a drag on their innovation. Between the OSM mappers, MapQuest, Microsoft and all the others who are part of the open project; I [see] no way OSM doesn't become the dominate mapping data source for all users moving forward. And you know who wins, everyone who wants free and open data. That's the take away -- congratulations to Steve Coast because he sure deserves success, but the real winners here are you and I.
Coast has long symbolized the disruptive potential of free and community edited location data. He, his collaborators and the OpenStreetMap project are being counted on to keep some of the biggest and most powerful geo-focused corporations in the world honest. As we enter into a period of history in which location data becomes even more important than it is today, when it impacts the everyday lives of non-technical people more directly than ever before, when it becomes a key dimension in all sorts of other data and when an era of big data processing enables a new world of place-based inovation on scale - as the web enters that era it's a very big move for Bing to have brought this young world-changer onto its team.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Monday, 22 November 2010

Steve Jobs Creates iNewspaper

Rupert Murdoch creates 'iNewspaper' - with the help of Steve Jobs

News Corp reportedly set to launch iPad news publication exclusively via download

News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert

The iPad 'newspaper' – a joint project between Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch – will be a 'game changer', the latter believes. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch, head of the media giant News Corp, and Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, are preparing to unveil a new digital "newspaper" called the Daily at the end of this month, according to reports in the US media.
The collaboration, which has been secretly under development in New York for several months, promises to be the world's first "newspaper" designed exclusively for new tablet-style computers such as Apple's iPad, with a launch planned for early next year.
Intended to combine "a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence", the publication represents Murdoch's determination to push the newspaper business beyond the realm of print.
According to reports, there will be no "print edition" or "web edition"; the central innovation, developed with assistance from Apple engineers, will be to dispatch the publication automatically to an iPad or any of the growing number of similar devices.
With no printing or distribution costs, the US-focused Daily will cost 99 cents (62p) a week.
According to the US elite fashion industry journal Women's Wear Daily, the Murdoch-Jobs "newspaper" will be run from the 26th floor of the News Corp offices in New York, where 100 journalist have been hired, including Pete Picton, an online editor from the Sun, as one of three managing editors. The editor of the Daily has not been announced, but observers are assuming it will be Jesse Angelo, the managing editor of the New York Post and rising star in the News Corp firmament.
Angelo, who was at school with Murdoch's son Lachlan, was formerly editor of the Post's business section and has recruited the tabloid's gossip columnist Richard Johnson to run the Daily's Los Angeles bureau. Other staff include Sasha Frere-Jones, former music critic at the New Yorker, who will oversee arts and culture. News Corp's pattern of hiring for the project suggests that video will be a major component of the new publication.
The 79-year-old Murdoch is said to have had the idea for the project after studying a survey that suggested readers spent more time immersed in their iPads than they did – comparatively speaking — on the internet, where unfocused surfing is typical.
Sources say Murdoch is committed to the project in part because he believes that the Daily, properly executed, will demonstrate that consumers are willing to pay for high- quality, original content online.
Murdoch believes the iPad is going to be a "game changer" and he has seen projections that there will be 40 million iPads in circulation by the end of 2011. A source said: "He envisions a world in which every family has a iPad in the home and it becomes the device from which they get their news and information. If only 5% of those 40 million subscribe to the Daily, that's already two million customers."
But Murdoch's success with internet ventures is mixed. The Times recently said it had gained more than 100,000 paying customers for its web edition, while the Wall Street Journal now has more than two million readers behind a partial paywall. But MySpace, once the leading social networking site, which Murdoch paid $580m for in 2005, is now an also-ran in the field, and Murdoch is running counter to current thinking that web publications need print editions to justify themselves to advertisers.
Apple has been expected to announce a subscription plan for newspapers based on the model of its iTunes music download service, but some publishers have been unwilling to let Apple in as an intermediary or let it control pricing the way iTunes has done in the music business.
"Obviously, Steve Jobs sees this as a significant revenue stream for Apple in the future," Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W Reynolds Journalism Institute, told the San Jose Mercury News recently.
And with Apple expected to dominate the tablet market until compelling competitors are introduced, Murdoch may have no choice but to ride with Jobs. According to Women's Wear Daily, Jobs is "a major fan" of the newsprint patriarch: "When the project is announced, don't be surprised if you see Steve Jobs onstage with Rupert Murdoch, welcoming the Daily to the app world."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Nicaragua Raids Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps

Nicaragua Raids Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps

An error on Google Maps has caused an international conflict in Central America.

A Nicaraguan military commander, relying on Google Maps, moved troops into an area near San Juan Lake along the border between his country and Costa Rica. The troops are accused of setting up camp there, taking down a Costa Rican flag and raising the Nicaraguan flag, doing work to clean up a nearby river, and dumping the sediment in Costa Rican territory.
La Nacion — the largest newspaper in Costa Rica — says the Nicaraguan commander, Eden Pastora, used Google Maps to “justify” the incursion even though the official maps used by both countries indicate the territory belongs to Costa Rica. Pastora blames Google Maps in the paper:
See the satellite photo on Google and there you see the border. In the last 3,000 meters the two sides are from Nicaragua.
(Note: I’m using the Google translation of this original article.)
The paper points out that Bing Maps shows the correct and officially recognized border. Here’s a comparison of what I believe is the disputed area:
A Google spokesperson in Central America told La Nacion that the company doesn’t know the source of the maps error. Earlier this summer, Google announced that it made “significant improvements to our borders for over 60 countries and regions.” The Cambodian government has previously accused Google of being “radically misleading” in how it shows the border between it and Thailand.
Meanwhile, tension is rising in Costa Rica — a country without a military. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla went on national TV last night and asked citizens to “be calm and firm, amid the outrage that these events provoke within us.”
(Thanks to Javier M. for the tip.)
Postscript: See our follow-up post, Google Maps: Uncle Sam’s To Blame For That Costa Rica-Nicaragua Border Error
Postscript #2: Our wording above, which implies that Pastora looked at Google Maps before moving troops into the region, may be incorrect. From reading additional news reports and speaking with journalists from the Tico Times, it sounds likely that the troops were already in the area before Google Maps was used to review the disputed border.
Postscript #3 (November 12): Google says it has fixed the border error on Google Earth and is still working on fixing it on Google Maps. As I type this, Google Maps still shows in the incorrect border.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Traditional Marketing....Move Over by Rayanne Thorn

After almost ten years in the recruiting industry as a contract recruiter, retained executive recruiter and corporate recruiter, I joined a recruiting software company as their Marketing Director in the United States.  They had recently launched their US operations after nine years of success and market domination in the UK.  I was thrilled to join this company but also recognized the challenges that lay before me.   In particular, with those that lay with the changing landscape of marketing.

I took several marketing classes when I was in university but none of them addressed how the internet had changed the rules of marketing and even more so, how social media would shatter our ideas of what marketing is or rather was. My traditional definition of marketing is something along the lines of the business of promoting or advertising a company or idea or product or service.  In the past, this has been accomplished by print advertisements, direct mail campaigns, commercials, referral programs or discounts and coupons.  With the onset of email, another advertising option was born.  Email marketing campaigns soon rivaled the best of any junk mail promotion and consumers learned quickly how to mark incoming mail as spam.

Not too long ago, we saw social media become all the rave and start to take the place of traditional marketing.  Advertisers jumped on the bandwagon and created Facebook fan pages and twitter accounts to try and capture the energy of early social media and be in on the ground floor of an incredibly impactful medium.  And what makes it so impactful other than the fact that it is all the rage and its utterly chameleon-like metamorphosis?  It is mostly permission-based.  Meaning, someone has to typically reveal information about themselves, their work, their likes and dislikes and then log in to a portal where they will be marketed to, based upon what they have chosen to reveal about themselves.  In other words, the audience is coming to the marketer, instead of the marketer going out and having to find its audience.

There are other advantages, just as the audience reveals certain characteristics and likes about themselves, so does the marketer.   Here it is:  people like to do business with people they know.  I consider myself to be the company that I work for.  I represent our workforce, every single employee.  I am an extension of our brand, our vision and because of that, there is a face attached to my company, and an underlying personality is made known.  I love what I do.  I love our brand.  I love the company where I work the people with whom I work.  This seeps out in everything I write or release.

And that is the clear advantage of social media; it is called “social media” for a reason.  I used to call it “new media” because employers were more comfortable with that moniker.  Social sounds too much like play and not enough like work.  And how could any good or revenue come out of play?  The bottom line is that marketing has been changed forever.  The days of direct mail/junk mail are numbered.   The need to produce a multi-million dollar commercial to be aired during a major sporting event is over.   Many companies have opted to increase their social media efforts as opposed to creating an expensive ad campaign to beat all ad campaigns. The internet and social media have forever altered how we communicate and resultant of that is an enduring change in how we do business.  Everything you do and say online can now be considered marketing.  Positive or negative.

And you may have heard this before but it’s not going away.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Basic but interesting video. "The Power of Geographic Information"


Mobile Location Intelligence

Mobile Location Intelligence

Author: Shankar Narayanan 
"Communication has helped the world to shrink; Location Intelligence will make the personal worlds of individuals expand. Both are positive changes and we can rest assured that more changes are round the corner".

Looking back at 1999, the annual production of mobiles was less than 200 million worldwide; MP3 was yet to be launched, no Smartphones. Just take a look at today’s mobile market. Wow! What a growth in 10 years? This year’s production target for mobiles is above 1.5 billion. There are six different Smartphone operating systems (Windows Mobile, Symbian, Black Berry, iPhone, Palm, and Android). The following are becoming the de facto standards in some form in the mobile phones: MP3, FM radio, voice recorder, bluetooth, 10 mega-pixel camera, HD video, WiFi, digital TV, mobile computing, social networking, mobile e-commerce, mobile credit card (m-commerce?), and now Location Intelligence with GPS, Cell Id, WiFi, and so on. No other market has seen such a tremendous growth in the last 10 years like the mobile market.

So, let me cover the latest and the next big revolution expected in the mobile market: ‘Location Intelligence’ (LI). What is LI? Gathering the relevant and desired information around one’s location or any other preferred location, processing that information on the basis of personal preferences, context, and geography and delivering it at an appropriate time can be defined as LI. We need basic map data of any geography with extensive layers of information (global, continental, country and even street level, and finally at the door number level of the target location) to achieve this. Further, information on POI (Points of Interests) and any dynamic data such as traffic, weather, events, and offers could be all labeled as Location Intelligence. All the geo information have to be coded into latitude and longitude (Lat/Long) coordinates, so that you can reverse geo-code by giving Lat/Long coordinates and get the actual address or position of the place or person you look for. Global Positioning System (GPS), which is a U.S. military term generally used by every one, helps us pinpoint the position of a place or person easily.

Now, let’s quickly see how does GPS work and then move on to various technologies, applications, and current and future market opportunities. A GPS device basically has a RF modem and antenna that picks up signals from the satellites (there are about 16 satellites that orbit the earth and send signals that are picked up by all the GPS devices around the world ? in a way similar to radio signals that are picked up by FM/AM receivers). Any one is free to receive signals from these satellites that are owned by the U.S. government. These satellites send their current position in the orbit with respect to earth. The GPS devices get the positions of various satellites in orbit. Using the information about the position of at least three satellites, the GPS device calculates its position on earth, based on a method called ‘triangulation’. Thus, we are able to identify one’s precise position on earth using the GPS device.

Now let’s go back to map data. Currently companies like Navteq (a Nokia company) and Tele Atlas (a Tom Tom company) are the major map data providers, even Google gets the map data from these people. This map data is not in a form that can be used by a common man or a consumer. The maps provided by the map data vendor are in a particular format and have to be rendered by the Map Engine, so that it is compiled in a form that can be read by a common man. ‘Map Engine’ is a complex software owned only by a handful of companies such as Nokia, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, deCarta, Spime, Navngo, and some others. The Map Engine has the routing engine incorporated in it, which computes the routing functions from point A to B to C and is used for simple textual navigation. Then comes the Navigation Engine, which can be part of the Map Engine or be independent of it. The Navigation Engine primarily does the turn-by-turn navigation, so that even if you miss a turn it re-computes and provides you the alternate routing with the help of the routing engine.

There are three types of Map Engines: Off-board, On-board, and Hybrid. Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo have off-board engines; you can access maps and their functionalities only if you are connected to the Internet. The most popular navigation application offered today by vendors on mobile phones, especially in the U.S., runs on ‘Off-board Engine’, which is slowly becoming obsolete.

Basically, in the off-board model the map and routing engine will be at the remote server and the device will access and download the map data and routing information from the remote server through the Internet. The off-board model for Web connected PCs will continue to be used for just mapping applications; but for mobile applications the pure off-board model will be less interesting in future. This is because when the off-board model was introduced, the mobile devices did not have the required processing power (it was less than 150 Mhz then) and storage capacity. But today’s Smartphones have a minimum of 400 Mhz processing power and 8 Giga Bytes of storage. Hence, the on-board Map Engine will be a viable model for any device that has processing power and storage.

With the on-board model, the biggest advantage for the common man or the end user is that he will have the power to access all mapping services such as location, POI, geo-coding, reverse geo-coding, routing, and full turn-by-turn navigation even while not connected to the Internet. For example, the complete North America map data is only 1.5 GB and if you go for only one state it is less than 200 MB, so if one has the needed data, he or she has all the freedom to use it and is never lost. Without the need to worry about Internet connectivity it works well like the Personal Navigation Device (PND) or the navigation device used in your car.

The hybrid model, which is a combination of both on-board and off-board functionalities, is becoming popular in mobile, PND, and Automobile Navigation devices. In the hybrid model, the device has all the map data, map engine, routing, and navigation engine resident in the device, no need for Internet connectivity for your regular mapping needs like finding your location, or any Points of Interest, or getting the routing information, or navigation to a location with full turn-by-turn functionality, and much more. The hybrid functionality kicks in when you want to look for any dynamic content or information such as traffic, weather, or events around a particular location or to download the map updates. It is capable of connecting to the Internet and fetching the needed information with respect to any location. The hybrid technology is great except for one caveat: it has to be ported on to every desired OS platforms in the netbook and mobile world such as Windows 7, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Black Berry, Android, and so on. But this is a characteristic problem in the mobile world (OS fragmentation) and we have to live with it unless someone comes out with a plausible solution. The Hybrid Map Engine is the latest technology; only Nokia has deployed it so far.

Today every phone shipped by Qualcomm’s hardware has the GPS module in it. Every smartphone shipped has GPS and WiFi in it. All high-end netbooks have GPS in them and all netbooks shipped in 2012 will have GPS and WiFi. Mobile Internet Devices (MID) designed today have GPS and WiFi. This will eventually enable the introduction of many more applications than what we see in the industry today.

Communication has helped the world to shrink; Location Intelligence will make the personal worlds of individuals expand. Both are positive changes and we can rest assured that more changes are round the corner.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Essentials of Mobile Location Intelligence

Revolutionary advances in mobile technology and web use have added enormously to the importance of location intelligence in sensible business planning, reports Christopher Backeberg...
Location intelligence is sometimes shortened to LI but we'll use the catchier abbreviation of LocInt. Call it what you will, it has become a topic of some hot discussion in the mobile industry.
Right now, not enough businesses fully understand the meaning of LocInt and how to use it most effectively, according to a number of spatial information providers. The growing sophistication of digitally creating, storing and sharing geographical data makes the current situation both more complicated and much more exciting.
We're on the brink of a new, expanded phase in LocInt. The combination of mobile location information, cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS) and so-called Web 2.0 practices is ushering in what Francisco Ortiz De Urbina of ESRI Australia calls "Location Intelligence 2.0".
Ventana Research believes LocInt will be one of the key technologies to enable business innovation, becoming essential to achieve new levels of growth through improvement in business processes. However, it won't happen without overcoming some difficulties. Mark Smith, Ventana's executive vice-president of research, says of a recent study by the company: "The research found viral use of consumer mapping technology like Google in business, but organisations are challenged in utilising it to deal with the volumes and frequency of data that need to be integrated."
Shankar Narayanan, CEO of Spime, believes LocInt is "the next big revolution expected in the mobile market." He is also aware of the challenges, stating: "We need basic map data of any geography with extensive layers of information (global, continental, country and even street level, and finally at the door number level of the target location) to achieve this. Further, information on POIs (points of interest) and any dynamic data such as traffic, weather, events and offers could be all labelled as location intelligence."
In short, it's time to prepare for the marriage of traditionally web-based LocInt and mobile location-based services (LBS).
So what is location intelligence?
In simple terms, LocInt is a technique for presenting geographical information in a graphic way, most often in the form of map layers. For example, different colours on a map may show the population density around a planned shopping centre, or the comparative return on investment by various stores in different locations.
The inclusion of LBS allows for the addition of new layers, such as the number of mobile users accessing a wi-fi hub, or even the number of mobile users in a given area at a given time who are opted in to a specific proximity marketing service.
Enterprises can gain crucial insights into the marketing environment by combining their sets of business data with geography-based information and, more recently, the specifically location-based information that mobile devices make possible. This collated information, labelled LocInt, gives businesses the opportunity to streamline their processes and customer relationships, which in turn can lead to improved business performance.
The sources of all this information include aerial maps, geographic information systems (GIS), consumer demographics and users' customer records. Spatial information companies that specialise in business-to-customer (B2C) applications provide businesses with the tools to map this information visually. The mapping apps can turn huge amounts of data into colour-coded visual representations that reveal trends and patterns at a glance.
A universe of users
According to Wikipedia, everyone's favourite source of quick, general information, LocInt is at the heart of commercial applications used in numerous sectors.
Communications & Telecommunications: For network planning and design, boundary identification, and identifying new customer markets.
Financial Services: To optimise branch locations and for market analysis, share of wallet and cross-sell activities, mergers and acquisitions, industry sector analysis, and risk management.
Government: For census updates, law enforcement crime analysis, emergency response, environmental and land management, electoral redistricting, tax jurisdiction assignment, and urban planning.
Healthcare: For site selection, market segmentation, network analysis, and growth assessments.
Hotels & Restaurants: For customer profile analysis, site selection, target marketing, and expansion planning.
Insurance: For address validation, underwriting and risk management, claims management, marketing and sales analysis, and market penetration studies.
Media: For target market identification, subscriber demographics, and media planning.
Real Estate: For site reports, comprehensive site analysis, retail modelling, and presentation-quality maps.
Retail: For site selection, maximising per-store sales, identifying under-performing stores, and market analysis.
Are you in sector not covered by these categories? If there isn't a LocInt app for you now, it's almost certain that there will be one soon.
Make room for LocInt 2.0
Location intelligence 2.0 isn't a new technology, it's the new approach to the use of location intelligence to keep up with the rapid evolution of the Internet and the mobile web.
Urbina at ESRI Australia explains: "This geography on the web or the geoweb is a rapidly evolving Web 2.0 market of innovative data and software applications, including location-based services, social software and even augmented reality, for both the web and mobile devices. Propelled by new location-aware smartphones, the geoweb is moving into the mainstream."
He adds: "The rise of social computing patterns and technology within the enterprise and out towards clients has given rise to the challenge of how to leverage your organisation's spatial information assets for a demanding end user with much greater expectations on usability, access and content."
Web 2.0 practices have paved the way for this evolution. Web 2.0 is also not a defined standard, it is a second-generation way of using the web.
By this loose definition, the early commercial Internet, or Web 1.0, consisted of the static, passive websites of the 1990s that couldn't offer user interaction or offer user-created content. Websites were basically no more than brochures viewed on a monitor.
Web 2.0 practises may make use of some comparatively older technology, such as contents management systems and frameworks for discussion forums or uploading photos to a website. Today, Web 2.0 finds expression in online social networks, wikis, YouTube and countless other interactive websites and blogs.
So LocInt 2.0 can be seen as the integration of the Web 2.0 approach and the location-awareness of smart mobile devices. Moreover, says Urbina: "The underpinning technologies are inexpensive, allow rapid deployments and are simple to use, but vitally, offer significant scope for the adoption and increasing usage of spatial information."
Finding the competitive edge
How do you stay ahead of the game in LocInt?
According to JIMAPCO, "Knowing your market is critical, and being able to see your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities gives you an edge never before available. By combining your data with other demographic and economic data sources, you can discern patterns, trends, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to help you make better decisions."
Technology news writer Hannah Smalltree remarks that the best way to learn about a new place is to go there, but perhaps the second-best way is by using location intelligence. She says: "The tools and practices that make up location intelligence could be called the geographical version of business intelligence (BI)."
In its overview of LocInt, DMTI Spatial says: "At its simplest, location intelligence allows organisations to unlock business value by leveraging location content, ultimately making a measurable difference in your business performance."
DMTI tellingly observes that as much as 85% of a company's existing marketing data may already include references to location. The company adds: "It's no wonder that using location intelligence to leverage this latent data can have a significant impact on your bottom line."
The future of location intelligence
According to Steve Trammell, corporate alliance representative for ESRI, the biggest challenge in LocInt is education, not technology. He says: "We start talking about maps and people start thinking of a static document. We have to show them an interactive map - a map you click on which brings up information like customer locations, sales volume, or even something as mundane as the weather."
Trammel believes BI platform integration will help LocInt gain traction by bringing its potential value into perspective. He says the LocInt market will also be driven by the availability of more quality data sources than ever before and new databases of rich demographic information and other location-specific details.
Jim Stone, founder of GeoVue, educates companies about the use of LocInt to solve classic retail business problems. He comments: "The simplest way to think of location intelligence is a combination of software, content and services."
DMTI neatly spells out the gains that a company can make by using good location intelligence. From its experience with customers, DMTI has found that LocInt can increase revenue, improve customer service, decrease risk, enhance compliance and optimise capital investments. Those look like pretty compelling inducements.