October 15, 2007
Introducing WeoGeo
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Introducing WeoGeo

by Susan Smith

In a discussion this week with WeoGeo CEO Paul Bissett, GISWeekly learned about this unique e-commerce platform which may revolutionize the way mapping products are discovered, customized and delivered. The goal of WeoGeo is to “create an active exchange where the supply and demand is high enough where people can see where they should be putting their efforts,” said Bissett.

PB: WeoGeo is about enabling people to discover and customize and deliver their mapping products. We have two ways to do that – WeoGeo Market where we’re building an entire platform for people to buy and sell and communicate amongst each other. These are mapping products for which we provide our unique discovery and customization and delivery tools to the market and charge a flat fee for the listing and delivering those products between buyers and sellers. Consider it an eBay approach to enabling people who make maps to connect with people who want maps. Most of the mapping products supplied in the mapping industry today typically go through a single point of
sale, where you’re a governmental program manager who goes to a single GIS firm and says “make this for me.” That product is delivered back to that purchaser and then the product either on the supplier side disappears in an archive somewhere and on the purchasers side, may or may not be open to public use.
What we’re attempting to do is to tear down the vertical nature of those silos, of buyers and sellers communicating with each other, and allow people to see more of the mapping products in the world that’s out there, these would be the consumers of mapping products and allow the providers to see more of the people who are looking for maps, such that the skills that the mapping providers have are more generally applied across many niches, allowing them to generate more revenues for themselves. On the other side, the purchasers of these maps are seeing more supply, so on average, the cost of their maps comes down. So it becomes a win win situation for everyone concerned if
there’s more supply in the market and better pricing and better content.

The second component of this is the WeoGeo Server, which provides a network appliance into an institution or enterprise that may have hundreds of thousands of maps internally but may have trouble knowing where those maps might be or how they’re related to other maps. Much like the Google Search appliance, it allows users to archive their mapping products in such a way that they’re discoverable amongst themselves or can serve them out to user groups outside the internet.

GW: Can you also deliver CAD?

PB: Yes, as long as it can be tied to a point on the ground we can serve and deliver it.

GW: What sets WeoGeo apart from other vendors?

PB: There are organizations that are offering raster and some vector products. They typically are either offering their own archives or they’re out cutting deals with other content providers. They take a very large fraction of the selling price and it’s usually a percentage of the selling price. I saw one where 70% of the selling price goes to the market maker and the rest goes to the content provider. We’re turning that whole thing on its head in that our listing fee is $3 per six months and we’ll even host your data for you, which is another $3 per gigabyte per six months. Our whole infrastructure is built on Amazon web services. It’s
completely scalable, so you don’t have to worry about where our data farm is. Amazon has it for us.

On the listing side, to the vendor of the content, our portion of whatever they think the price is worth is fixed at a $1 rate. You can set the price high or low. We’ll have a low flat cost. We have a transaction cost on the other side, but that’s small too, depending on the size of the data and the complications of serving it and the processing. It’s usually between $5 and $10 on the transaction side. For the product, the vendor of the content is the person who sets the price and we don’t get involved in that at all. We’re just there to keep the cost as low as possible and get the market moving to a point where we’re focused on having lots of supply
and lots of people making content for others.

The second thing that sets us apart is the functionality of our site, for discovery, customization and delivery. The whole process of discovery of maps that you’re interested in, the customization of exactly what part of the map you want and the delivery mechanism – order it and it is sent to your desktop – is unique and far more advanced than anything I’ve seen out there.

We’re trying to offer an exchange and functionality. You’re the marketer of your data which allows you to connect to as many purchasers as possible.

The third thing is, in building an exchange you have to deal with digital rights management. The way licensing on this site works is that everybody that provides information on this site is essentially saying to the users on the other side you may buy my data and you get to use it one time for something, a single purpose commercial license. If you choose to re-use that in a commercial setting, then you owe me royalties, the full royalty of the price of what I sold to you. Now that allows the users on the other side to be able to make derivative products, so they could take that hyper spectral data, for example, and now with some algorithm that they’ve developed that’s unique
to hyper spectral data, create a vegetation map of seagrass and bathymetry and put that map back up for sale. They can say to the public, I bought this hyper spectral data for $15, I added my own work to it which I think is worth $20 so if anyone wants to buy this map of vegetation or seagrass it will cost you $35. When somebody buys that map, the person who created the vegetation map gets their $20 and we immediately send to the original hyper spectral data provider their $15 as part of their licensing of digital rights management.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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