Some Absolutes about Mapsolute

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Mapsolute's technology, Map24, has been designed for speed and ease of use. It's very fast and almost seamless, you can zoom in and out and left and right very quickly. Using the map of North America, you can choose any city in that geographic region. Read about its success in Europe and how it is differentiated from Google Maps and other online mapping technologies in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances, Announcements, Competitions, Training Programs, New Products, Moves, Letters to the Editor, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Industry News

Some Absolutes about Mapsolute
By Susan Smith

A recent article in Information Week makes the case that most people are not going to buy a GPS to plan out routes for business or even casual recreation. The alternative: online mapping and routing sites that can quickly provide you with routes on your wireless device or laptop. Fleet tracking operations and store locators will be happy to note the differences between various online mapping and routing sites that can help speed the process of planning routes beyond the capabilities of MapQuest, Google or MSN MapPoint.

One in particular is Mapsolute, based in Frankfurt, Germany, now the #1 mapping supplier in Germany and close to being #1 in the rest of Europe for its internet mapping technology. The company has been growing very fast since 2000, according to marketing director, Jim Edelmann, and boasts some pretty large customers such as Daimler Chrysler, McDonalds and Royal Automobile.

“We are headquartered in Frankfurt, we built our technology there and the founders still run the company from there,” said Edelmann, “and the company is growing at approximately 50% per year, It is pretty much self-funding, after some initial seed investment, and operates on the European model of building your company with your profits.”

Mapsolute's technology, Map24, has been designed for speed and ease of use. It's very fast and almost seamless, you can zoom in and out and left and right very quickly. Using the map of North America, you can choose any city in that geographic region. By clicking “next” you can bring up a map on the right hand side. Rather than trying to find a street by typing in a street and an address, you can use the map by picking a spot, putting a mouse over it and clicking it once. Although advised to use my hometown, that doesn't usually work too well as I live in a fairly remote geographic area. But if you are pinpointing a large city, for example, you would put the mouse on the plus sign in tooltips and click it or hold it down and it zooms you back out. Or put the mouse on the map and it will zoom in on that rectangle that you had wanted to see. As in other programs, first you get major streets and then minor streets and this is because it's all streamed. While you're not doing anything the data is being streamed and anticipating where you may want to go. So it goes very fast. When you get down to the street level, icons will appear on the map.

You can put your mouse over a highway and get icons - the maps are active and have embedded data in the map. In a more urban area, you'll see more restaurants and gas stations. If you lose your place there's a little rocket ship on the tooltip bar that if you click it once, will zoom you out and zoom you back in.

You can center the map wherever you want to just by clicking on another spot and it will re-center the map.

What is the advantage to Map24 as opposed to Google or MapPoint?

“Of all the major internet mapping technologies and free public web portals, such as Google, MapQuest, ourselves and MapPoint, the difference is, we're much faster and you can seamlessly pan and zoom, and you have active icons on the screen,” said Edelmann.

What is making Map24 faster? “MapQuest and MapPoint are the traditional mapping vendors,” Edelmann pointed out. “They send you raster bit map. We send you a vector map, we're not sending you a picture but a mathematical algorithm that draws the picture on your computer. So we get to send about a tenth of the data, and since we compress it and stream it, it goes 20 to 30 times faster. That's the difference between a raster and vector map. A raster map is like a fax, it's like a picture or like an email where you can edit and change and modify and interpret what you have got. The difference between the traditional mapping vendors and ourselves is that we're sending vector maps that are compressed and streamed, so they go very fast and they're very active so if you're a developer you can work with the technology and do very interesting things.”

Google automated the process of sending raster maps instead of sending it in big piles, which caused the screen to repaint in tiles very slowly when you panned to the left or right. Google offered a different technology that sends the tiles in smaller bytes so they repaint easier and they only repaint the things that are changing as opposed to the whole screen as MapQuest does. (See the GISWeekly story on what makes Google maps so quick and responsive and also Location Finds a Home in Non-Location Applications)

In contrast, Mapsolute does vector mapping “which is much faster and much smoother at panning and zooming,” concluded Edelmann. “If you use Google, for an example, you can pan left and right very rapidly, but when you zoom in it takes some time to reload. It's because they have to change the whole screen vs. just the part you had to pan to left to right with.”

According to Edelmann, Map24 has close to 100 million users worldwide. It is a free internet mapping technology but like with Google and MSN MapPoint, those who want to include internet mapping technology in their applications can buy the development capability to embed in applications such as fleet tracking and real estate programs. “T-mobile markets this technology do to internet mapping and navigation off of their cell phones,” Edelmann noted. “Other people are doing it for realty websites. Store location business is another big business. We make our money off what we call 'professional usage.”


ACA MultiVision announced a strategic partnership with Mobile Video which will provide Property Appraisers, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management Agencies and GIS users with a complete imaging solution; one that combines aerial, oblique and street-view images linked to address points and property appraisal CAMA data.

AED-SICAD Aktiengesellschaft, Bonn, Germany, acquired a majority interest of 51% in its business partner BARAL Geohaus-Consulting AG, Reutlingen. Both companies have been successfully cooperating for many years in numerous GIS projects in public administration and the utility industry. Through the merger, there presence and market position in the Southwest of Germany will be further strengthened.


On November 26, 2005, the back-up solar array drive on Landsat 5 began exhibiting unusual behavior. The solar array drive maintains the proper pointing angle between the solar array and the sun. The rotation of the solar array drive became sporadic and the solar array was not able to provide the power needed to charge the batteries. Maintaining power to the batteries is critical to sustain proper operation of the spacecraft. The primary solar array drive failed under similar circumstances last January. As a result of this current situation, imaging operations will be suspended for at least the next two weeks or until attempts to solve the problem have been resolved.

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