Matt Sheehan Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.
The tech blogs are buzzing with excitement over mobile application development. Smartphones and mobile tablets offer new and interesting extensions of existing Web applications, plus the opportunity for new innovation. But both the hardware and software are ahead of business adoption. A phenomena noted historically with new technology leaps; the advent of the Web being a notable example. It took a number of years for the Web to move from an academic tool to widespread business use. Single location computing is about to be a thing of the past. Desktops and laptops sales will plummet. The future is about mobile computing.
GIS (Geographic Information Systems) has inhabited a niche in the world of computing. It has been long lamented as an important but not widely known technology. The launch of Google maps in 2006 shook this comfy niche. Bringing the widespread availability of free slippy maps with the ability to overlay markers, photos, videos. ESRI, the open source community and the other key players in the GIS market had to move quickly to catch up.
Mobile is about to have a much wider impact on the GIS industry. Real estate often proclaim its “Location location location”. Take heed GIS industry. We are entering a time of location based application development. GIS is a part; a tool, in a much wider game. Developers will be building location based applications, NOT GIS applications. GIS allows us to work with location data, but it is merely a tool. One of many.
Mobile ArcGIS Application?
So no more GIS mobile map application development or mobile ArcGIS Application Development. Maybe location based services powered by ArcGIS or location based service applications.
The GIS industry is already being left behind. The hype and money pouring into so called location based service (LBS) companies is phenomenal. Foursquare, Godwalla, Yelp, faceBook Places; the list goes on.
Mobile Location Based Service Application Development
As a company, we have become very focused on mobile. Tablets, with their larger screens, are wonderful. We’ve moved beyond just maps. Maps are great for visualizing spatial data. But location application development is more than just about maps. That pushes us back to the old GIS paradigm. That said, our initial work on the BlackBerry PlayBook uses ArcGIS and is a mapping centred app. We have been porting over some of the functionality from the ESRI Flex viewer. This first video is a demo of the base functionality:
We wanted to take the check-in model used by Foursquare and build a check-in widget. This we built as a stand alone app, then ported it to a widget. This second video shows this widget:
Mobile Business Apps
We’ve been traditionally an interactive Web map development company. Ten years of building clever mapping applications often driven by GIS. We are done talking GIS to clients. Our customers want software solutions. Our challenge is to demonstrate the importance of location as part, or at the core, of this solution. Mobile devices have made that conversation far easier. We need to show clients the future. Build real mobile location based applications which solve real problems.
So lets drop the whole GIS tag. We are in the location services industry.