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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
By Susan Smith
Anyone who as a child watched Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood on television remembers just how important neighborhoods are. A sense of community embodies a neighborhood over time and gives it personality and cultural distinction.
In November 2009, GISWeekly reported on Maponics, location-based provider, in the feature story: Record Number of ZIP Code Changes Signals Major Shift for USPS and Boundary Designation
What Maponics was plugging into was the trend of how ZIP Code boundary data shifting dramatically impacts change for the entire U.S. in terms of boundary designation. The company specializes in location-based data and information for businesses, including neighborhood, carrier route and ZIP Code boundary data.
With their Neighborhood Boundaries product line, Maponics attempts to capture elements of that cultural distinction. With its latest release of Neighborhood Boundaries, the company responds to customers' demand for more international neighborhood boundary data. This release will increase coverage to include 20 large cities in South America, Middle East, Africa and Asia. The product's domestic coverage has increased to about 90,000 neighborhoods throughout the U.S. and Canada which covers approximately 1,000 cities. On the international front, Maponics has been building out Europe for the past year, and has 10,500 neighborhoods throughout the European Union, which covers approximately 115 cities and 2500 neighborhoods. The addition of cities such as Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Moscow, Istanbul, Santiago, Nairobi, Jerusalem and Melbourne will increase the product's global geographic reach.
Social networking has latched onto the importance of neighborhoods as a way to identify place. “The way people think of neighborhoods domestically for search and to see things on maps, that is the same internationally,” said Mark Friend, vice president of sales and marketing for Maponics. “Related to social networking, more and more people want to designate their place but they don't want to designate their exact latitude and longitude as that's giving away too much. And designating by city is too little. I think what the social networkers are starting to see are neighborhoods offer a great way to designate that place. And that's what Twitter released. They were our first client to take the international component of neighborhoods for the rest of the world and they'll be getting it as we roll it out this year. We're targeting approximately 80 to 100 cities by the end of this year with the rest of the world neighborhoods and about 10,000 polygons.”
Last year, Twitter released an initial blog post that named Maponics as the sole provider for these neighborhoods internationally and domestically in a release that stated Twitter was now geoenabling their tweets.
The geoenablement of Tweets allows the user to designate in an exact location, city level or opt to designate at the neighborhood level. Twitter users can see the origin of the tweets on maps of neighborhood areas.
Neighborhood boundaries have also become important to advertisers, who seek ways of targeting their audience in terms of social and cultural frameworks. “We think this is valuable for search and display relating to maps and the social networking piece, but also for geo-advertising,” said Friend. “More and more of the advertising model has started to take hold. Obviously, if advertisers can target to a neighborhood level, more users can opt in and essentially identify where advertisers can get contextually relevant advertising to them.”
Maponics has a proprietary process to source data from many different levels, and is also locally sourced and quality checked. They use manual sourcing, “feet on the street,” leveraging local resources, in addition to proprietary tools and feedback from their existing customers, such as Google, Twitter, Realtor.com, Dominion Enterprises, Yellow Book USA and NAVTEQ. Maponics offers lat and long coordinates that comprise the boundaries, essentially a map layer.
One of the areas Maponics prides themselves on is in taking the time to draw boundaries as accurately as possible. They are aware that many people will refer to neighborhood boundaries differently. In the case of businesses, such as real estate firms, they may have a vested interest in where neighborhood boundaries lie and might want a property listed in one neighborhood as opposed to another. Maponics cuts across those perceptions and offers the neighborhood boundaries as accurately as possible.
Maponics supplies the neighborhood boundaries and centroids, and a small amount of attribution data. The customer will supply what is inside those boundaries. For example, Trulia, a customer, use Maponics boundaries to enable people to search by a neighborhood they're interested in. Trulia will supply the current listings that are available for sale to display within the neighborhood boundaries. CitySearch is a customer who licenses Neighborhood Boundaries so their users can find restaurants, entertainment venues, and CitySearch supplies the directory, in which case, they either source the directory listings or they'll buy their own business listings for the content inside those polygons.
Pricing will vary according to coverage internally and on the web, domestically or internationally. Maponics Neighborhood Boundaries is available to license in numerous GIS data formats and through its Spatial API for mashups or other online access.
Top News of the Week
Intergraph is adding four new large-format digital aerial cameras to its Z/I Imaging acquisition platform to meet the customized needs of aerial imagery providers around the world. The new cameras - RMK DX, DMC II 140, DMC II 230 and DMC II 250 - are based on the proven technology of the Intergraph DMC and RMK D.
Google renamed the Local Business Center to Google Places and added a number of new features. In addition to these new features, Google Places will continue to offer the same tools as the Local Business Center, such as helping a company verify and supplement business information including hours of operation, photos, videos, coupons and product information.
Infoterra, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS Astrium, has announced the launch of SAFEcommand - a suite of products designed specifically to address the modern challenges faced by public safety and emergency organisations such as the police, fire and rescue services, and ambulance fleets. SAFEcommand integrates core data management, mobile and emergency response solutions to increase operational effectiveness and service delivery for both 'blue light' and homeland security organisations.
Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances
IceWEB, Inc. announced it has partnered with Google, whose mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful, to deliver information sharing solutions to the public sector.
Users of Topcon's laser scanning solutions can now benefit from the most advanced processing and visualization technology following the addition of Topcon Europe Positioning to the Pointools European Reseller Network.
The European Union Satellite Centre ( EUSC) recently signed a multiyear enterprise license agreement (ELA) with ESRI Espana, giving the agency greater access to the latest geographic information system (GIS) technology, training, and consulting services.
The EUSC operates under the auspices of the European Union (EU) Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The center provides imagery analysis and geospatial intelligence products and services to the EU's political and military leadership. ESRI Espana, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, is the country's distributor for California-based ESRI.
The National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) and ESRI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will promote sustainable, cross-curricular uses of geographic information system (GIS) technology throughout NITLE's network of liberal arts colleges. NITLE, a nonprofit leader in the liberal arts space, helps small colleges and universities develop mission-centric approaches that effectively integrate inquiry, pedagogy, and technology. ESRI is a market leader in GIS that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms.