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Monday, June 28, 2010

Mumbai-based Rolta acquired geo-imaging technologies from Canada based PCI Geomatics Enterprises. The acquisition includes “licenses of PCI’s geo-imaging technologies, including source code, design and software architecture exclusively for India and non-exclusively throughout the rest of the world.”

So, as I understand it, Rolta is not buying PCI outright, but rights to license its products and code. Rolta did acquire all of PCI Geomatics India, however.

- Business Standard
- Bloomberg

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/28 at 08:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

As I noted I was a judge in the recent Location Wild app competition sponsored by Nakd Reality. It challenged developers to build an app in a week that taps into location.

One of the things I suspect those participating are looking for is feedback on their ideas and implementations, so I wanted to share those here, even as I congratulate the winners. (rules)

In the end, the top winners were:

(1) CityWarfare - A game “add-on” to Foursquare that lets players earn and place “water balloons” and use “water pistols” to “soak” others. The goal is to “stay dry.” Pistols are used when players are in the same venue, water balloons are “installed” and then can go off when remotely “detonated” or at a specific time.

Thomas Fletcher, who just finished college wrote this app, which he details on his homepage. Nakd Reality has a nice write-up on Thomas and the app.

Why I like it:

First off, it does not depend on creating a critical mass to be playable. By building on top of the popular Foursquare Fletcher got a jump start on any “from scratch” games. Any Foursquare player who checks in is in the game, even if he or she is not participating actively. The game also includes “civilians” computer controlled drones that you can shoot at or drop bombs on.

Second, the game reminds me of playing “Assassin,” a murder or be murdered game back in college. The weapon? A squirt gun!

Third, it takes some craftiness. When would you drop the bomb in your local coffee shop to “hit” the most people? At 7:03 am? 8:03 am? Would you put it in Starbucks or an independent shop? That may make you think about you local geography in a different way. And, I like that you can play up close (in the venue) using a water pistol and remotely (at home say) using balloons.

Fourth, the interface is pretty basic text - harkening to the old days of text based games. (Hitchhikers Guide was the one I remember.) I had fun picturing water balloons falling on my neighbors at my local coffee shop hangout.

Finally, this game has very little startup overhead for the developer or the player. There’s no “data” to buy to put the game in motion, just like the best kids games that involved a ball and a stick.

(2) ScatterTree - An app finder that offers up apps to install on your phone based on location. (iPhone 3GS only)

Why I like it:

First off, it’s yet another way to sort through all those apps! That in itself is valuable.

Second, it could be very valuable when you land/get to your hotel in a less well-known city. You might want the local public transit app, the local paper app to join your more broadly geographical apps (like the NPR one and the Starbucks one…)

Why I’m a skeptic:

First, the app, website really, seems to tie into a patent Apple recently received for apps that are themselves location-based. That is, they load when you enter an area/store and uninstall when you leave. That’s what I’d want to play with if I were sitting in a venue (bar) waiting for someone, the scenario used to introduce the app.

Second, I have to ask if ScatterTree has been in development for more than a week (since it was founded in 12/2009 per Crunchbase).

(3) Price Compare - A prototype of a tool to compare distance and cost for collecting a list of grocery items.

Why I like it:

First off, the time and money cost of travel is a daily challenge for many.

Second, it may help not only with your budget by showing the lowest cost store at which to buy it might even encourage you to walk or bike a bit further for a good deal. That might benefit your health!

Why I’m a skeptic:

First off, how tough will it be to get regularly updated data (daily is promised!) from not just supermarkets (chain and otherwise) but local mom and pops? Realistically, how many items could be on the list offered?

Second, how could you price 250 g of spinach (from the example)? While in some places I’m sure you can buy spinach by the pound, in others there’s only a the pre-packaged option so you’d be forced to buy more than you need, making the comparison less accurate store to store.

Third, does the app also keep track of inventory? If I travel the extra 1/2 mile for the cantaloupe, can I be sure there’s one likely to be available?

Finally, unless you are traveling or move, don’t most people quickly learn which store has the best “overall” deals and go there most of the time? (I do - Market Basket, Somerville FTW!) I’m just not sure how often you’d use this app.


I had a great fun exploring and considering the apps submitted and wish all the submitters the best of luck with their endeavors. And, thanks to Nakd Reality for inviting me to judge!

Disclosure: Nakd Reality provided me with an HTC Legend (to keep) to aid in my judging of the contest. Why? I did not until it arrived have a location-aware phone.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/28 at 07:27 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy, a non-profit organization focusing on the legal and policy issues associated with the collection, use and distribution of spatial and location data, opened its doors in Richmond, VA today. It’s a 501(C)(3) registered non-profit.

What does it do?

From the website (the PR discussion of its work confused me):

The mission of the Centre for Spatial Law and Policy is to help businesses and governments world-wide recognize the complicated legal and policy issues associated with spatial technology and the collection, use and distribution of spatial data. The Centre plays a critical role in the development and implementation of policies and laws that result in a consistent and transparent legal and policy framework on these important issues. In addition, it helps educate and train business and government executives on matters critical to both their daily operations and their future plans. The Centre also provides timely input to policymakers on sensitive matters such the use of spatial data for monitoring climate change, development of the smart grid, intelligent transportation and other important national transnational issues.

Who’s involved?

Kevin Pomfret, who contributes to this blog, is the Centre’s executive director. Founding members include: Google, DigitalGlobe, DMTI Spatial Inc., GeoEye, ESRI, Lockheed Martin, Rolta International. and PCI Geomatics. Organization memberships range in price from $5000 [associate, for non-profits] to $25,000 [executive membership].

- press release

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/28 at 07:07 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

EurAsia Review highlights the challenges of years of Soviet government control of mapping and how it’s quite a challenge to turn the new, open industry away from the past.

- EurAsia Review

Malaysia is getting ready to create a country-wide GIS. The Geospatial Act needed to create the database is under development by the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry and is expected to be explored next year. The planned integrated GIS would “comprise geographical information presently owned by agencies, departments and the various states.” The policy behind it would “focus on data secrecy, security, custodianship, sharing, integration, dissemination and standards,” said Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Unggah Embas.

The announcement of the preparation of the Act was made at the 4th National Geographic Information System (GIS) Conference and Exhibition June 28.

- MySinchew

Google is sending four staffers to the pan-African journalism gathering, Highway Africa, held in Grahamstown at the start of July. Among the foci: YouTube and citizen journalism and Google Maps.

- Media Update

Seminars for students in grades 11 and 12 on GIS will be organised by the City of Johannesburg in conjunction with the department of information and knowledge management at the University of Johannesburg, ESRI-South Africa and the Geo-Information Society of South Africa (GISSA). They are free and run Aug 31-Sept 1 in Braamfontein. The goal is to introduce them to the technology and possible jobs.


A draft privacy law to amend those currently on the books in Germany was submitted to the German Federal Parliament by the City of Hamburg in late April. Privacy regulators from Germany’s Lände, or states, discussed the text at a meeting in Hamburg on Friday. The draft regulates what data can be shared and that warnings of collections must be made ahead of time.

- Network World

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/28 at 07:01 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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