Location Finds a Home in Non-Location Applications

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Welcome to GISWeekly! Although they are not the first company to ask the question, 'what do we want to do with location on the internet? Telcontar has a unique answer to that question in the shape of a partnership with Handmark, a leader in mobile media, and the announcement of their new Developer Zone.

Telcontar also held their first annual Developer Conference sponsored by NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas in SBC Park in San Francisco recently, garnering an audience of about 150 participants. Find out what the new partnership with Handmark means, and what impact the Developer Zone will have on developers who develop on Telcontar's Drill Down Server and Rich Map Engine technologies.

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Industry News

Location Finds a Home in Non-Location Applications
By Susan Smith

Although they are not the first company to ask the question, 'what do we want to do with location on the internet? Telcontar has a unique answer to that question in the shape of a partnership with Handmark, a leader in mobile media, and the announcement of their new Developer Zone.

Marc Prioleau
Telcontar also held their first annual Developer Conference sponsored by NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas in SBC Park in San Francisco recently, garnering an audience of about 150 participants. At this conference, the company had some announcements to make: one being the partnership with Handmark. Under this agreement, Telcontar's server technology Drill Down Server and Rich Map Engine technology will be integrated into the Handmark mobile mapping services.

Earlier this year, GISWeekly covered Telcontar's Drill Down Server (DDS) geospatial software platform and application development tools in its role as the engine underlying Google, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo! Marc Prioleau, Vice President of Marketing for Telcontar, spoke about how it was that Handmark came to the attention of Telcontar. Handmark has had some success on several networks and their volume has started to grow.

“One trend we see is that a lot of people become interested in our platform once their volumes start to grow,” explained Prioleau. “Our platform is a very scalable platform, and some of our customers like Yahoo! and Google are doing hundreds of millions of maps a month on it without any downtime. The issues are speed and scalability for these companies. The other aspect, which is a leading indicator of where the market is going, is that classic LBS application developers are really location people. They are in the location world, they understand mapping, cartography and all those things. Handmark is really not in that world. What they wanted to do is take location, mapping and directions and routing and attach that to a lot of their other applications. For example, if you use their tool to find out something about an event, they can give you maps and directions. They are not -- and don't claim to be -- location experts at all.” What Handmark does offer is Pocket Express, a wireless, news and information bundle that allows customers to retrieve maps by street address, get turn-by-turn directions for driving between two addresses, search for a person, neighbor or business, and then map the location for the returned search data directly from the listing. You can also look for stocks, weather and sports scores. According to Prioleau, the companies like Handmark are really going to grow the market where location is added to non-location types of applications.

With this announcement, Handmark switches Pocket Express over to the Telcontar platform from GeoMicro. GeoMicro server technology evolved from the more traditional GIS market where very complex calculations were necessary, but these were not necessarily high volume calculations. In contrast, Telcontar's strength is in being able to do complex calculations but also to do them at high volume, millions of times a day as are evidenced on the internet portals. “That's why we've had huge success with the big portals,” noted Prioleau. “I think it also translates to some of these carriers as they start to go into production, they need the types of volumes that we can bring.”

Automotive Navigation Data Announcement

Telcontar also announced that in addition to their relationships with data providers NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas, they were bringing onboard AND automotive navigation data from Holland. Where AND shines is in their broad coverage around the world, including places like Latin America, parts of Asia, eastern Europe, North Africa, a number of countries that haven't been mapped by Tele Atlas or NAVTEQ. The focus of each of these data providers is different, for example, NAVTEQ focuses on coverage for areas where there are or might be many in-car navigation systems.

“One of the reasons AND is important to us is that when we start working with worldwide suppliers, they want mapping capabilities in as many parts of the world as they can get it, so, for instance, if we work with companies like the internet portals, they want to expand and want mapping coverage everywhere,” Prioleau explained. The internet portals or travel portals may want a map of Belize or the Seychelles Islands because their market requires it. “We want to be able to offer a variety of different map data that will be compatible with our platform off the shelf. We're not a map data company, but one of the things that is very important for us is to be able to take in map data and make it usable to our application developers.”

The Developer Zone

At the Developer conference, Telcontar opened up the Developer Zone (also on the website), which allows developers to come in, register, download the web services API, or DDS API, then develop their application. They can run it to demonstrate it, or test it or use it to raise money over a web service to a hosted DDS server. Tele Atlas and NAVTEQ data is also hosted inside the Developer Zone. With the Developer Zone, developers can develop applications quickly which is what is necessary in the wireless world, without having to go and get a contract, platform, etc.

“We had someone register for the Developer Zone on Monday. We authorized him and he began developing on Tuesday and on Thursday we were looking at a very novel application that he had already developed,” Prioleau said. “So it's something application developers can do very quickly, using OpenLS standards calls, an advanced geocoder and other things allowing them to bring applications to market very quickly.”

Telcontar is also sponsoring NAVTEQ's LBS Challenge, located in both the U.S. and Europe this year, which will be the primary vehicle for offering the Developer Zone to numerous developers.

Prioleau said that Telcontar is looking at, how do you personalize location? Right now a lot of location applications aren't used very frequently, “for instance if I have a navigation application, 14 days in a row I drive from home to work and back again. I don't need navigation for that,” he pointed out. “How do you make navigation something that people are using on a daily basis, preferably multiple times a day? How do you personalize location or routes so that you can look at data which is changing daily along those routes? If I drive from home to work and back I don't need navigation but I may want to know how traffic is affecting my commute time or who has the cheapest gas along that route or about events along that route, so that ability to personalize your routes is something that will drive usage of location services. That's largely what our next release will be around. We've got a couple of partnerships coming up around that from data guys that would also reinforce that.”

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