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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Our publisher Jane found this long article titled “GETTING THERE: The science of driving directions” in the New Yorker detailing U.S. commerical navigation from its roots in Rand McNally up to Navteq et. al.

A great quote:

“Rand McNally is ‘to maps what Jell-O is to gelatine’” (paraphrased)

-Jim Akerman, the director of the Smith Center for the History of Cartography, at the Newberry Library, in Chicago

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/18 at 06:50 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, April 17, 2006

Well, if you are a Sprint/Nextel customer you can find out. Under a plan announced just last week, Sprint offers the Sprint Family Locator Service for $9.95 per month for up to four registered phones. The service offers the basic information about the location of anyone with a cell phone that is enabled under the plan. A parent can "ping" a phone to determine the whereabouts of the individual and view the location on either the parent’s phone or via the web interface. So, Sprint becomes the first U.S. carrier to offer a personal locator service and I’m sure more will follow.

What I did not see that the service offered was a perimeter alert so that a parent can be notified if a child leaves a certain geographic area; i.e. a "geofencing" feature. Even Wherify’s Wherifone does not offer that feature now but had touted it rather strongly in the past. In speaking with Scott Hotes, CTO of Wavemarket, the provider of the location technology for Sprint, he said they opted instead to offer "safety checks" whereby the service does a daily location check against the family member alerting the parent, for example, if the child is not in the designated location. Hotes said that the check may be time sensitive as well. For example, if a child is not in school by 9:00 a.m. or home by 3:00 p.m. an alert is sent.

Now, this service may seem somewhat specific to certain income group…i.e. a family tha can afford phones for every kid, but as many will observe, if they don’t have one now, the cost will surely decline in the future so that nearly everyone will have a "personal" communication device that is also a PND (personal navigation device). That’s happening at a very rapid pace as this recent press release from ABI Research indicates.

by Joe Francica on 04/17 at 04:53 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

It will be quiet here Monday as I explore the geography between Hopkinton and Boston.

At the expo (the running trade show where you pick up your number) I did see a Google Earth visualization of the course. I think it was in a booth featuring a nutrition supplement. It made the course seem far longer than I know it is. The other geo-related thing I saw? A new GPS for runners that “talks.”

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/17 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, April 14, 2006

Readers of this blog, Directions Magazine and other publications poo-poo press releases now and again. I’m first to admit my mixed feelings about them and have gotten comfortable with our “post the release yourself subject to our approval” policy at Directions.

But, I have to be realistic, that’s how news gets made. Case in point: GOS wins an Excellence.Gov award.

That “news” was posted at this very blog on Feburary 16 based on information from a publication that covers government news, Public CIO. There actually was a press release on the five awards given on February 15, but that was not picked up the geo press.

On Wednesday of this week, ESRI, the technology company that put together the portal, put out a release on the award. The release is reprinted on several sites in the geospatial online press.

My point here is that if we the press only listen to what the PRs say, we the press miss a lot, and so do you, the readers.

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/14 at 09:43 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

USA Today’s coverage of CTIA includes this tidbit about how the Luxor (that’s the pyramid one, right?) will use cell phones:

Under a deal Sprint announced with the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel, when you land in the city and turn on your cell phone, the Luxor can check you in before you exit the plane.

During your stay, you might get mobile coupons for discounted meals, show tickets and other offers. Using the phone’s GPS capabilities, the Luxor can see if you are off the hotel premises and tailor mobile promotions to lure you back.

I think this is wise all around. Sprint will be able to gently introduce those afraid of LBS or hesitant in a single location. When they go home, hopefully, the Luxor will leave them alone. “What happens in Vegas…”

The Luxor will, at least for now, have a unique offering and perhaps lure its guests to stay at the casino. On the other hand, another deal in Vegas, to allow phone purchases of Monorail tickets, may lure them away.

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/14 at 08:11 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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