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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TeleCommunications Systems Inc. (TSYS) had four patents approved by the U.S. Patent Office that address some additional functionality that may eventually be provided by mobile location-based service application developers, includeing:

  • Method and System for Saving and Retrieving Spatial Related Information" (U.S. Patent No. 7,903,001)
  • Method and Apparatus for Sending, Retrieving and Planning Location Relevant Information" (U.S. Patent No. 7,913,179)
  • Wireless Network Location-Based Reference Information" (U.S. Patent No. 7,904,100)
  • Location Sensitive Messaging" (U.S. Patent No. 7,899,468)

The first on the list above records location and time with events. The ability to "timestamp" an event is not new but the invention is focused on the ability of an application to alert a user within the bounds of location at a specific time. Think of coupons that could be sent to you ONLY during the time period the promotion is open and valid and ONLY when you are within proximity of the offer. Location-based alerts for retail loyality programs are nice but its nice to know that certain constraints may be placed on them.

For the second patent (if I'm reading the description correctly), the invention allows the use of a GUI to point on a map and send your location information to your friend or group of friends. Think of it as eliminating the list places you might see in Foursquare and just pointing to your location on a map, provided that the map can accurately geocode you in close proximity to where you really are. Certain privacy controls are also part of this patent.

Patent #3 above has to do with sending a text message to a 4-1-1 service that includes the user's location so that the information sent back to the user is location-relevant.

The fourth patent described above will send a text message to a friend or "buddy list" whenever the user "checks-in" to a certain location. While an application like Foursquare will list your name when you check in, your friends also have to be using Foursquare and "checked-in" to the same location. The invention also provides that the text message will be sent only if your buddy is within proximity to you. I'm not certian how those proximity settings are established such that you must determine your own geofence.

These are all interesting inventions by TCS and have the ability to close some of the gaps left by existing location-based social networking apps, loyalty programs or apps like Groupon. By offering these kinds of location-based features to wireless providers and app developers, you can begin to see the progression of technology and increasing sophistication of applications. Eventually, we'll see these features brought to market and see which ones are of most benefit to users.

Some of my analysis was supported by an overview in

[Disclosure: The author owns stock in TCS]

by Joe Francica on 06/15 at 12:47 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Dale Lutz, Safe Software speaking at the MundoGEO conference, Sao PauloAs mentioned in my previous post, it's obvious by the vendor exhibits at the MundoGEO Connect conference here in Sao Paulo that the focus is on data: data capture, data management and metadata.  That was brought home again in today's keynote  addresses.

Dale Lutz, vice president and co-founder of Safe Software offered his perspective on the community's ability to handle as much data as we are collecting. "We are inundated by data in the form of point clouds. LiDAR is inexpensive, accurate and voluminous," said Lutz. In addition, Lutz noted that while solutions from his company make it easy to integrate data by extracting, transforming and loading, i.e. spatial ETL, geospatial data to minimize myriad format exchange problems, this solves only part of the problem. "Everyone has difference jobs and different needs and the result is different formats."

Ruedi Wagner, vice president of imaging for Leica Geosystems, noted another challenge caused by point clouds. LiDAR creates n-dimensional data because it is possible to annotate points with hyperspectral data. This can lead to not only spatially accurate data but data containing information derived from sensors that parse spectroradiometric information into extremely narrow bands. "At 5 cm accuracy, you can map every single tree leaf … There is work for us for years to come, said Wagner."

Ray Kerwin, global product planning director for Topcon, discussed precision guidance of construction vehicles.  He showed how it is possible to monitor machine sensors for equipment health as well as establishing a geofence to make certain that the equipment does not venture outside an area where that equipment will not function properly.

And so, while Brazil is an extremely developed nation with well established infrastructure, the need to continually collect data for maintenance as well as new projects is paramount. As mentioned above, data collection equipment has become relatively inexpensive. However, the manpower to process these data is not and the country faces a challenge to education more geospatial professionals.

by Joe Francica on 06/15 at 12:26 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Nissan Leaf plug-in hatchback, the 100% electric car, shares precise location information with websites accessed through its built-in RSS reader per a security eco-geek. A video shows how to build your own RSS feed of the data.

- Computerworld

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/15 at 04:51 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

PlanYourPlace is to be the first interactive online urban planning GIS tool in Canada.

“We intend to develop a simple, interactive planning tool that can be used at regional levels all the way down to local neighbourhood levels,” says Dr. Andrew Hunter, project manager and geomatics engineering professor at the Schulich School of Engineering, [Univ of Calgary]. “This is possible because of recent advancements in technology such as geographic information systems (GIS) and cyber infrastructure.”

- U Calgary News

The Iowa Department of Transportation has launched a Google-based map to help travelers avoid flooded roads. It's at , clicki on the "Flooding Ahead" link.

- AP

Woodridge, IL now has a GIS-powered "available buidlings" map on its website. It uses ArcGIS Online and Flash and has a "retro" look.

- My Suburban Life

Gwinnett County, GA now has septic system detailed in its GIS. The idea is that now residents can locate them and do maintenence as required by law.

- The Weekly

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/15 at 04:48 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Updates on various uses of crowdsourcing in India using Ushahidi include an update on the electric service outages (APB coverage), mapping of mobile phone coverage and security.

- The Hindu (India)

Google seems to be handing out certificates and other goodies (stickers, etc.) to Map Maker contributors. I wonder if OSM will follow suit?

- Search Engine RoundTable

... Area Now, which bills itself as a ‘short-notice event recommendation service’ for nearby events. Their iPhone app now in Beta (combined with the site), effectively crowd-sources events from people nearby who want to find out where the latest happening club or event is. You can download the app from iTunes here or start adding events direct on the site.

- TechCrunch

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/15 at 04:45 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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