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Thursday, June 15, 2006

“...the future I don’t think is increasingly high resolution imagery as suggested by Microsoft, once you get to 10-15cm resolution imagery do you really need to go much higher.. what Where 3.0 applications will need is intelligent semantically rich datasets.”

Ed Parsons of Ordnance Survey, in his review of Where 2.0. day 2

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/15 at 05:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

It seems a bunch of blogs got an e-mail from, the standards organization behind COLLADA, noting how KML 2.1 supports it. COLLADA is an interchange format for 3D geometry and textures. In paticular:

COLLADA is an open standard for that defines an XML-based schema for 3D authoring applications to freely exchange digital assets without loss of information.

I’ve never heard of Khronos nor COLLADA. So, I asked a “3D GIS guy” if we should care. Gary Smith of Green Mountain Geographics noted he’d not heard of COLLADA until Tuesday. He offered this:

A few more minutes on the web and I began to think this might be a big deal.  The simulator industry has been using OpenFlight as a standard format for years.  Does Collada bring the same standards benefit to the web 3D presentation?  Not only does it recognize instancing [reading in a texture just once, even though it might be used many times], it also recognizes LOD’s (Level of Detail).  I think this might be a big step for 3D on the web.

Just to put this in perspective, the e-mail was parallel to OGC sending out an e-mail to bloggers saying, “Hey, press! Vendor X now supports WMS!”

Khronos was kind to note in the e-mail sent to APB that we’d missed the boat:

I thought you might be interested adding more details to All Points Blog coverage of Google Earth and KML 2.1 - something that was pretty significant but seems to have been missed by most of the press.


by Adena Schutzberg on 06/15 at 05:42 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I met with Paul Levine, General Manager of Yahoo! Local at the Where Conference this week. Yahoo! seems to put more emphasis on the infotainmap model than most. But that makes sense. If you ever read anything about Terry Semel’s business model for Yahoo! it is that he believes they are an "entertainment" company. By contrast, Google believes they are an "information" company" (I assume Microsoft still believes they are a software company).

So, for Yahoo! they are interested in attracting more local content about restaurants, movies, and tourist events, but also on making it easy for small local businesses to add information about their company and have it appear on a map. Levine emphasized the statistic that only about 30% of all businesses have a website and so Yahoo!‘s Yellow Page listings makes sense for the small business that just wants a minimum presence without the expense of building a website. Levine describes it as "low friction"  for merchants to enhance their presence on the web.

As for their mapping application, the Yahoo! Maps beta is worth a look if for nothing else than for the way they have incorporated multi-point routing and traffic info. And Yahoo! is another company courting developers.

by Joe Francica on 06/14 at 11:14 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I sat down with Kim Fennell, CEO of deCarta (formerly Telcontar) for a discussion about his company’s business model and product plans. deCarta has been successful at winning four of the big six mapping portals for geospatial processing: Google, Yahoo, Ask, and Rand McNally (so, they have not won over and Microsoft and MapQuest…yet). And they are working on upgrading their capabilities in international geocoding, traffic modeling (in a partnership with Inrix), landmark routing, among others. deCarta/Telcontar has weathered a number of changes over the course of their corporate developement but they now seem poised for expansion by attracting developers (see the deCarta Developer Zone) to their platform in hopes of attracting partners who can develop successful niche applications, which already include some of the more prominent companies in the LBS space like Wavemarket, Motorola, TeleNav, Netorks in Motion, and Local Matters. Fennell says they are content agnostic and was very clear in pointing out that "we’re not a GIS company." But, let’s face it, their Drill Down Server is already a very robust mapping and spatial querying platform. Fennel mentioned some of the interest they have had from large corporations about using their platform. Granted, they have a long way to go with name recognition and just being the "Intel Inside" of the mapping world for these major mapping portals doesn’t really give them much exposure. But they have a goal of attracting a larger partner network with the recent hire of Mike Agron, formerly the partner channel director for MapInfo.

by Joe Francica on 06/14 at 10:35 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Let’s get beyond the infotainmaps already. The one disappointing thing I saw at Where 2.0 was a barrage of startups that "think" they are the next best thing to come to mapping. Without question, I applaud their efforts. It makes for great energy and buzz. But, its time to understand what will resonate with those whose eyeballs make their way to the major mapping portals for entertainment information. Enough about tagging locations with "your opinion" or "your favorite bistro". Please…do you really think people will read this stuff? The value of a good infotainmap is the quality of the information, i.e. rich content. I think I would trust Zagat about the food at Le Cirque than John from Indiana…that’s just my humble opinion. Social location networking has its place…perhaps its your group of friends that do their personal restaurant review and you want to see what John wrote about the Olive Garden in South Bend, Indiana. Maybe. I see infotainmaps ruling "personal location networking" but if the entreprenuers looking to sell their platform to Google are hoping to attain mass adoption by creating a vast network of "your opinions", then map-blogging just to give your restaurant review lacks a certain credibility factor.

by Joe Francica on 06/14 at 10:14 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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