Microsoft Releases MapPoint Location Server to Mobilize Businesses With Real-Time Location Services

Sprint and Bell Canada to Be First Mobile Operators to Commercially Support MLS

ATLANTA, March 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Corp. today released MapPoint(R) Location Server (MLS), which enables businesses to significantly improve the way they locate, track and manage their mobile assets and mobile work force. MLS represents a major advance for location-based services (LBS) by making it easy to combine real-time location data from mobile operators with mapping capabilities from the Microsoft(R) MapPoint Web Service. This new technology fuels a wide range of applications including those for asset tracking, fleet management and mobile-worker dispatch based on real-time proximity to a business-related event. For instance, a taxicab company could use MLS as part of its dispatch call center application to more efficiently dispatch the nearest cab driver to a customer pickup based on the driver's real-time location.

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Mobile operators are moving quickly to seize the opportunity to offer innovative real-time, location-based services to their business customers. The release of MLS is a major step forward in bringing about these powerful services for the mobile workforce. Major North American mobile operators Sprint (United States) and Bell Canada (Canada) are announcing today their plans to be the first to offer real-time commercial services based on MLS to customers in their markets.

Sprint is leveraging its support of open standards, nationwide coverage and its technology road map for precision tracking to extend location data to MLS users through Sprint's Business Mobility Framework. Sprint plans to have these commercial services available in the United States this summer.

"The promise of location-based solutions is taking a major step forward with the release of the Microsoft MLS product and the continued rollout of Sprint's Business Mobility Framework," said Tom Shaughnessy, enterprise marketing director at Sprint Business Solutions. "Enabling our business customers to exchange real-time location information with their mobile work force will help them increase productivity and drive cost savings."

With today's launch of MapPoint Location Server, Bell Canada becomes the first major operator to offer real-time MLS-based commercial services to its customers. "Microsoft has propelled LBS with this release by simplifying the steps a business would need to take to integrate LBS into their business processes," said Adel Bazerghi, director of services development at Bell Mobility. "The support of industry standards in MLS combined with Microsoft's broad community of developers will dramatically reduce the barriers that in the past have presented challenges for businesses to benefit from LBS."

In addition to the early operator support for MLS, a wide range of independent software vendors and solution providers are developing real-time location solutions for business customers with MapPoint Location Server. Early solution partners include Cubistix Inc., Immedient Corp. and Action Engine Corp.

Cubistix, a New Jersey-based solution provider, developed Cubistix Location Analytics with MLS and Microsoft MapPoint 2004 for Pechter's Baking Group LLC, a 124-year-old wholesale baking company in Harrison, N.J. With this solution, Pechter's is able to leverage information stored in its customer data base to more efficiently route customer deliveries by dispatching drivers based on their closest proximity to customer locations, along with point-to-point directions and maps for all their routes. As a result, Petcher's increased its on-time deliveries and cost savings, and improved customer satisfaction.

In addition, Cubistix is also working with Partnership for Strong Families, a lead agency for the Florida Department of Children and Families, to enable it to better manage caseloads by visualizing its data by neighborhood with MapPoint 2004. In phase 2 of the implementation, Cubistix will utilize MLS to help locate and deploy case workers in the nearest proximity to children in crisis.

"The release of MLS is a major event that provides us with a unique business opportunity to expand the solutions we offer our customers who are eager to deploy real-time location services to their mobile work force," said Keith Armonaitis, president of Cubistix.

Today's launch of MLS is also a milestone for the MapPoint Web Service.

"Businesses large and small are eager to begin incorporating real-time location into their business applications and have been asking us to equip the MapPoint Web Service with real-time capabilities," said Michael Graff, general manager of the MapPoint Business Unit at Microsoft. "MLS does this, and gives the MapPoint Web Service a great advantage over other mapping and GIS providers."

The following are a few examples of the capabilities and benefits provided by MapPoint Location Server:

  -- Seamless integration with MapPoint Web Service and Microsoft
     infrastructure. MapPoint Location Server acts as a proxy to the
     MapPoint Web Service, leveraging powerful mapping capabilities,
     cost-effectiveness, service-level commitment, Microsoft .NET
     connectivity and integration with other Web services. In addition, MLS
     integrates with existing Microsoft infrastructures such as Windows
     Server(TM), Microsoft SQL Server(TM), Active Directory(R) and the
     Microsoft .NET Framework, thus taking advantage of investments that
     many companies have already made.
  -- Cost-effective integration of real-time location information into
     applications. With MLS, enterprises and developers can easily integrate
     real-time location information into their business applications and
     processes. MLS provides a single, mobile-operator-independent API for
     obtaining location data from different mobile operators. Therefore,
     developers do not have to write operator-specific code to integrate
     location functionality into their applications. The mobile-operator-
     independent API is mapped to individual mobile operators through
     operator-specific location data providers.
  -- Easy, flexible programming with support of standards such as Simple
     Object Access Protocol and Extensible Markup Language. MLS puts
     real-time location solutions within the grasp of virtually any
     developer, without the need for geographic information system (GIS) or
     mapping knowledge. And MLS-based applications can be developed in a
     wide range of programming languages, including all .NET programming
     languages, Java or Perl.
  -- Enterprise and user privacy control. Enforcement of user privacy
     preferences takes place within an enterprise's networks, and the
     enterprise has control of default privacy settings. With the Mobile
     Locator application running on a computer or Windows Mobile(TM)-based
     device, users can control their privacy preferences and choose to be
     informed when they are being located. Privacy preferences include, for
     example, the ability for users to appear to be offline (by turning
     visibility off) and block anyone or everyone from obtaining their
     location. All location information or personal information (such as a
     mobile phone number) is encrypted when passed between MLS and the
     MapPoint Web Service. Similarly, the mobile phone number is encrypted
     when passed between MLS and the mobile operator. Only information
     necessary to perform the service requested by a user is exchanged
     between the enterprise and the MapPoint Web Service (e.g., latitude and
     longitude) or between the enterprise and mobile operator (e.g., mobile
     phone number).

MapPoint Location Server is available to customers with a valid license agreement for the MapPoint Web Service. More information on the MWS licensing model can be found at . More information about the MapPoint Location Server can be found at .

MapPoint Web Service Special Offer for Free Subscription

MSDN(R) Universal, Enterprise and Professional subscribers are eligible for a free subscription to MapPoint Web Service. This exclusive MSDN Developer account extends the standard 45-day free trial period and also includes limited use of the MapPoint Web Service production environment in addition to the MapPoint Web Service staging environment. This is a one-time offer available to all MSDN subscribers at no charge. Developers can sign up today at .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

NOTE: Microsoft, MapPoint, Windows Server, Active Directory and Windows Mobile are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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