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Monday, December 31, 2012

Surprise! The path to the mobile future is ... Maps! Who says that? Rolfe Winkler, writing in today's Wall Street Journal (WSJ), says that whoever has the best mobile maps "will be an important driver of shares in tech giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook and help determine who has the dominant mobile platform of the future." In case you missed the article (subscribers only link, see below for other access options) it was somewhat buried on the front page of the "Money and Investing" section.

Be still my fluttering heart. Let's see, tell me if you've heard this before. Eighty percent of all data is referenced by location. Hmm, makes sense then that somebody finally discovered that location-based data can actually be displayed on a map.

Winkler aptly describes the battle over mapping apps as a struggle over the supremecy for "smartphone discovery" tools. He further describes mapping tools as "answering questions that go way beyond location." I couldn't agree more. It is information discovery that has lifted maps to new levels of importance. Just as we in the geospatial community have long known about "layering" data features, the mobile world is discovering just how important maps are to visualizing spatial interaction.

Clearly, each of the tech giants are posturing to provide some very sophisticated services as well as display ads. The article describes Google Now that links your calendar information to the traffic conditions so you can tell if you're going to miss your cross-town meeting. Apple, having been bludgeoned by the Apple Maps fiasco, is apparantly in discussions with Foursquare to integrate more local information into Apple Maps, according to the WSJ article.

So, why are maps all of a sudden the linchpin to the mobile future. Was the Apple Maps debacle that bad? Did it raise the stakes that much in the war for mobile market share? The answer lies in both Apple's and Google's response: People were fired at Apple and the Google Map iPhone app is better than even its Android version. In addition, rumors are still flying about a possible acquisition of TomTom and other location-based services like Yelp or Waze could see their prospects for takeover rise as well.

But let's be clear. It's not the map itself. It's how easy location-based data can be used to discover information about social interaction and mobile services that make everyday tasks easier. But, then again, maps are cool.

- WSJ (subscribers only)

- for non-subscribers: Google the article title "Mobile's Path to Glory" for access

by Joe Francica on 12/31 at 11:40 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The two changes take effect Jan 28, 2013:

1) Instead of using just a first name, last initial (e.g. Adena S.) to indicate check-ins publicly, on that date, full names will be used (Adena Schutzberg). Foursquare says the old way is confusing, but explains any user can change their full name if they choose, perhaps to just first name, last initial.

2) Until the 28th venues participating in Foursquare could see check-ins from just the previous three hours. That's not too useful if someone didn't look up and act on that information regularly. Now, venues can see it for longer. How much longer? Unclear.

The company also issued a "Privacy 101" document to explain ist vision of user privacy. Interestingly, it was last updated Jan 28, 2013.


by Adena Schutzberg on 12/31 at 04:29 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Rockland County, New York, hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, used a new GIS app to manage response. No, that's not big news. What I find valuable is this:

The county took proactive steps to improve emergency preparedness last year in the wake of Hurricane Irene and the late October blizzard. Rockland secured funding from the Department of Homeland Security to  commission Sewall to develop a real time tool based on its need for information.  Sewall proposed a an enhancement to the existing online emergency GIS application and delivered a beta version for training local police and highway department staff in advance of Sandy. Designed to be efficient to use and easy to learn, the tool was tested before the storm hit and used with success throughout and after the storm.

In particular, Ilike the idea that we enhance what we have (and hopefully use everyday) for emergency situations. I hate reading about how some new tool is used "only" for such emergency situations!

- New City Patch rewrite of Sewall press release

The Village of Morton, IL is upgrading its website.

“A little bit farther down the road there will be a web-based GIS application where people will be able to use our mapping data and interact with it,” [GIS/IT manager Jeff] Bedeker said. “Right now, we just have PDF maps  to look at.”

The update was live Oct 3; it was covered in the local paper on the day after Christmas.

- Morton Times News

The Next Web spills the beans on an early beta of the EU's open data website. The portal was announced via Twitter on Christmas Eve.  Per TNW:

open data is general information that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone. In this case, it concerns all the information that public bodies in the European Union produce, collect or pay for (it’s similar to the United States government’s

The big announcement is expected in January.

- The Next Web

In Jamaica, GIS will be a key part of addressing squatters.

[CHAIRMAN of Environmental Solutions Limited Barry] Wade called on his colleagues to initiate a multi-disciplinary approach to arriving at the most suitable and effective policies and programmes to deal with squatting across the island. He said that environmental professionals trained in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), in particular, need to increase their efforts if they are to meet the demand for useful squatting-related data in the shortest possible time.

- Jamaica Observer

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/31 at 03:57 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Cellid API: The service provides geolocation information by detecting the nearest cellular phone access point and marking its location.
It was developed to provide location to a phone's systems without the need to access a global positioning system (GPS) signal. After identifying an antenna, it consults constantly updated databases of exact antenna locations, then provides those coordinates as the phone's approximate location.

API methods support submission of parameters identifying the mobile country code (MCC), mobile network code (MNC), and local area code. The API returns latitude and longitude coordinates along with a value indicating the antenna's coverage area as a proxy for location accuracy.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/31 at 03:56 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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