February 23, 2009
Urban Mapping Goes Everywhere it Matters
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| by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Urban Mapping Goes Everywhere it Matters
By Susan Smith
Taking the place of traditional IP based geotargeting, Urban Mapping is a company with a very clear focus on location based advertising. CEO Ian White attests to the fact that local search in the interactive world is “very difficult to solve,” and local knowledge “doesn’t scale in any way.”
Founded in 2006, the company now has nine employees. One way White thinks their product can be described is as a “faster, cheaper, better NAVTEQ.”
What does Urban Mapping do differently? They are interested in urban areas, ones that require a lot of detail and because the data is perishable, require a lot of maintenance. With a team of researchers, they develop new products and go out in the field to collect data. “There’s no substitute for that,” claims White.
Core products offered include:
- Neighborhood boundaries (informal space means a lot in cities)
- Geotargeting (based on user intent)
- Public transportation (data, routing, updates)
- Parking lots (where, how much, when)
The Urban Mapping Neighborhood database is a collection of “informally defined terms,” according to White, because as he describes it, neighborhoods fall under the category of informally defined space not centrally defined.
“In an urban environment, this is how somebody really understands where they are in their context,” says White. “A postal code might be sufficient if it meant something to us, but the granularity is too coarse. So a postal code may represent a few square miles whereas neighborhoods need to be more tightly defined. So 10004 where I used to live in NYC means something only because that’s what my postal code was but I don’t know what it’s bound in by. ‘Coffee in SoHo’ would make more sense for me than ‘10004.’ So all these kinds of terms SoHo, downtown, TriBeca French Riviera, the great Midwest, Motown, these are all synonyms, vanity names, etc. and they serve as a
proxy for a geographic state.”
White adds that the problem is these identifiers are hard to find because the boundaries aren’t known by any one party. “We define them and we’re the first to do it.” Customers include Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, MapQuest, YellowPages.com and many others.
The application can also be used for its search functionality. Coffee in SoHo means a great deal for people with a mobile phone. If you want to meet someone for dinner for example, the neighborhood database can offer a lat long of restaurant locations in say, TriBeca, in a way that a postal code cannot. A postal code is merely an artificial construct designed to deliver mail.
Urban Mapping logs into all the major portals with the Neighborhood database, and coverage extends through the U.S., Canada and Europe, “everywhere it matters,” which essentially focuses on urban areas.
White says that they don’t simply define regions and package them up, because there are overlaps between neighborhoods such as SoHo and NoHo and no clearly defined boundaries. For real estate listings, a property could appear both in SoHo and NoHo listings, for example. This way the user gets what he or she wants, and the advertisers and listing agents will also be happier. The user can conduct a search and get relevant results based on their query.
The Neighborhood database also includes hierarchical relationships, such as the fact that SoHo is a child neighborhood of downtown.
The Neighborhood database is available in two ways: 1) Urban Mapping can ship a database to a customer periodically and charge a flat fee, or 2) a transactional model whereby customers have access to an API which does all the geoprocessing for the them, for those customers who have little or no experience with GIS.
The service is useful for mobile users. For social networking such as Facebook users, users can reveal their location to their friends, and choose to do so revealing lat long, address where they are located now, plus neighborhood, city, etc. It’s also possible to keep a level of privacy with some friends so that the user doesn’t reveal his or her location to them.
Recently Urban Mapping announced free access for a limited number of transactions to the API. They also introduced a free Mass Transit Proximity API. The Proximity API is similar to the Neighborhood API in that if the user sends a point to the database, it will return the corresponding attributes about that train station or line, with times, etc. If a user has a list of properties or restaurants they can send them to the database and it will return associated information about them. This allows the user to construct an application and do directory searches for train stations, real estate or other needs based on requirements such as how far the user wants to walk, and whether the train
station is accessible by wheelchair, etc.
“Routable data is shipped to customers so it can allow them to do proximity searching,” explains White. “They have all the points, if they then have the network, all the heuristics and the costs, they’re able to do routing.” White says there isn’t a commercially available routing engine for them to use, as the only one, Google Transit, doesn’t give you access to its application, and there is no API for transit.
The basis for the mass transit routing database is an open source routing engine Urban Mapping has developed called GraphServer, which builds out a network graph based on Graph theory. Urban Mapping doesn’t own GraphServer as it is an open source application, but they are heavily invested in it as they are in the business of selling data. White says that if someone uses the routing engine they are free to augment it and put it in a repository as is done with other open source software. A hosted version will allow Urban Mapping to offer multimodal routing as well, which will enable drive to the train, walk to the train, train to train, train to bus, train to bus to walk, etc. It is
easier for the customer to simply plug in, making an API, call to get a transit route. Conversely, to use GraphServer on their own, a customer would need to spend time understanding and building the infrastructure, then trying to tie it in with their existing routing engine. Multimodal routing allows customers to own their own data. It’s also possible to take the GTFS data from Google Transit and load it into GraphServer.
“Part of the value of what we offer in doing the data transit collection is it’s all been normalized so it works,” says White. “If you were to go different transit agencies on your own you’d find there are incompatibilities even with Google Transit GTFS, the way schedules are defined. It is stuff that requires field research and a lot of massaging. Each subway entrance we go to we understand if it’s handicapped, accessible hours of operations, amenities available, a lot of related components there.” Updates from different transit systems and other sources are also ingested to give timely information.
The company supports approximately 65 transit systems in North American, Canada and the UK.
The idea behind GeoMods is the geographically modified keyword used to make an explicit query. Geographically modified keywords have great value when you sum them up, according to White, though individually they don’t have much relevance.
GeoMods is a novel geotargeting method based on user query
GeoMods is focused on online retail, and is suitable for uniquely defined search areas using mobile search. For example, if you have a hardware store in the Moscone Center of San Francisco and want to market your services to people, you expect people to come to your store based on a variety of factors, namely, distance of travel, and how many competing hardware stores are in the area. What would influence a customer? Parking, transit network? GeoMods algorithmically crunches this information to arrive at a service area that takes into account these business related factors in order to sell ad trade regions to retailers. That service area can be used for site planning in a retail context to
planning a media buy for off line for broadcast or print, as well as online. Once the service area is defined, keywords can be geographically extracted that can be made available to the advertiser that can be then used for optimization and research and marketing.
“We sell this to advertisers and advertising agencies buying media on behalf of their clients,” explains White. The reason for selling to advertising agencies is that they are good at aggregating many advertisers. “The agency will do the actual ad buy using the keywords as an ingredient and then the campaign will run into production and ad words will be given to Yahoo and other places that buy ads. So when users type these queries such as ‘Bart Civic Center’ and ‘hardware store,’ that ad will appear at a relatively low cost and the page will also rank easily.” With mobile, people are not going to do a long search for something because of small screen space, fingers on
too many keys etc. A keyword is a more likely way for them to find a business they are looking for.
With IP based geotargeting, location is not clearly defined because of the load balancers and proxy servers, according to White. The relevant ad cannot be served with this system as it can be with targeted ads for local merchants and their audiences.
Some years ago, I found myself in a parking garage in the Netherlands without the correct change and a parking attendant who spoke no English, the only person in the country I’d encountered who spoke only Dutch during a week-long period. At that time, late at night, I could definitely have used this enhanced Parking database from Urban Mapping.
The Parking database, expanded and updated bi-monthly, identifies particular spatial elements such as where to find the entrance and exit to a rental car company and provides a lot footprint. White contends that a GPS doesn’t tell you where the entrance to the Avis lot is, for example. Attributes for rental car parking as well as other types of parking options include, contact information, payment options, availability, capacity, validation, and long-term options.
Top News of the Week
DigitalGlobe and Nokia have agreed to bring the real-world perspective of high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery to Nokia Maps, both on mobile devices and on Ovi, improving the global driving, hiking and walking navigation capabilities for consumers who use these applications. Through streamlined technology integration and development of a proprietary format for delivering imagery to Nokia, users will have quick, easy and seamless access to a wide range of global high-resolution imagery from DigitalGlobe’s comprehensive ImageLibrary sourced from its high-resolution satellite constellation and aerial network. Available on compatible Nokia
devices and online through Ovi, the enhanced navigation features enable consumers to find and explore a wealth of world destinations with turn-by-turn, street-by-street and city-to-city navigation views.
Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances
The Sidwell Company signed a partner agreement with Pictometry International Corp. of Rochester, NY which allows Sidwell to significantly expand their offerings to include Pictometry Intelligent Images. These images are captured using a proprietary process and are utilized in a digital format by assessment and public safety professionals across the country.
NEC Sphere Communications, a subsidiary of NEC Corporation and the leader in Unified Communications (UC) Software and Service Oriented Communications (SOC), announced it is collaborating with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to deliver robust interactive unified communications capabilities as part of their service-oriented architecture (SOA) collaborative infrastructure.
Leveraging the UC services with SAIC’s SOA is their GeoViz product, a commercial off-the-shelf, WebCentric GeoSpatial Collaboration tool suite that provides 2-D, 3-D and 4-D views of geographic areas of interest to military, security, safety and disaster management officials.
The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) recently held its biennial election of directors. Of the 21 elected members of the consortium's 2009-2010 Board of Directors, 16 serving members were returned and four new members have been seated. The new OGC board members are Jeffery Peters, Kevin Pomfret, François Robida and Rob van de Velde.
Returning to the OGC board are: Dr. Roberta Balstad, Lisa Campbell, Dr. John Curlander, Philippe Delclaux, Ben Eazzetta, Steve Hagan, Jefferey Harris, Joanne Isham, Dr. Mike Jackson, Michael Jones, Dr. R. Siva Kumar, Dr. Vanessa Lawrence, Dr. Robert Moses, John Olesak, Granville Paules, Jack Pellicci, and Dr. Christopher Tucker.
Farallon Geographics, working with the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara, The Nature Conservancy, and Ecotrust, has developed “MarineMap”, a Web 2.0 mapping and decision support system to identify marine protected areas.
MarineMap combines an extensive catalog of GIS data, sophisticated spatial analysis, and an intuitive user interface to enable members of the public to participate in the selection of marine environments that should be designated for conservation, recreational, and commercial uses. MarineMap allows participants to identify and design marine protected areas (MPAs) interactively, and to share proposed MPA areas among stakeholders.
SeaZone is offering a ready-made information solution to help organizations affected by the UK government’s Marine and Coastal Access Bill. SeaZone HydroSpatial provides easy access to a wide range of marine and coastal zone information to assist in managing the new regulations. HydroSpatial is a specially developed intelligent digital marine map with multiple topic layers to which additional data can be added in line with the specific requirements of the Marine Bill.
NAC Geographic Products Inc. announced that the Government of Mongolia has passed an important resolution to adopt the revolutionary technology of NAC Geographic Products Inc. - the Universal Address System for all location related services and products in Mongolia after a comprehensive research of all address systems in the world. This is another breakthrough for the Universal Address System to become the main stream address and locating system in the world.
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "
The Changing Landscape of Digital Mapping
" report to their offering. This report analyses the changing landscape of digital mapping, outlining the growing demand for digital mapping and analyzing how map attributes are likely to change over the next 3-5 years.
China Information Security Technology, Inc., announced that its GeoGlobe Software had successfully passed appraisal by China's National Bureau of Mapping and Surveying (the "Bureau").
Tele Atlas revealed the winners in the inaugural Tele Atlas LBS Innovators Series “LBS-Out the Box” contest as Nulaz in the “Market Ready” category and Rummble in the “Disruptive Innovation” category.
“LBS – Out the Box” is part of the Tele Atlas LBS Innovators Series, an ongoing program held in conjunction with Tele Atlas DeveloperLink to help foster innovation and enable application developers to increase their visibility, credibility and success with key participants in the industry. In the inaugural “Out The Box” contest, semi-finalists were judged based on commercial viability and innovative use of maps in the application in two categories: Market Ready, which includes commercially-ready LBS applications targeted at consumers, and Disruption Innovation, which includes location-enhanced solutions designed to push the boundaries in
the LBS market.
As the winners, Nulaz and Rummble will each be awarded €20,000 in cash and a license to use Tele Atlas map data valued at €25,000. Both Nulaz and Rummble will showcase their applications in the Tele Atlas stand at Mobile World Congress 2009 in Barcelona (Hall 8, Booth C118). Notably, the winners were selected by a judging panel that included representatives from 3, Google, Orange Partner and Sony Ericsson.
NGIS Australia is partnering with the Spatial Sciences Institute to offer training courses in Google Earth.
The workshops, launching this month, will give an overview of what Google Earth offers, provide hands-on training and showcase the innovative ways organizations are using Google Earth to create and share information.
Courses are available in all major capital cities around Australia with discounts available for SSI members. Online registration and more detailed information is available at the
DigitalGlobe named Rafay Khan as senior vice president of international sales. Khan brings extensive sales and management experience in the location-based services sector to DigitalGlobe’s executive team. In his new role, Khan will be responsible for expanding DigitalGlobe’s international sales operations as the company seeks to capitalize on the growing worldwide demand for high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery.
Avineon, Inc. announced that Akhlesh Kaushiva, Vice President of Commercial IT Services at Avineon, has been appointed to the Geospatial Information and Technology Association's (GITA) Board of Directors. Kaushiva will serve a one-year term as an at-large board member for the non-profit educational association.
Map Use: Reading and Analysis, Sixth Edition, from the ESRI Press, may be a valuable book for people who work with, study, and appreciate maps and want to improve their map reading and analysis skills.
Replete with nearly 500 maps, photographs, tables, and charts to illustrate the text, this informative volume from ESRI Press teaches the basic concepts of geography and the skills of map reading and analysis. The book includes an overview of different types of maps, map scale and projections, grid coordinate systems, relief portrayal, qualitative and quantitative thematic maps, area and volume measures, GPS and maps, and spatial pattern analysis.
TerraGo Technologies announced the availability of Composer for Server – a new solution that enables grab-and-go access to all types of geo-located content from an ESRI ArcGIS Server. The solution was demonstrated at the ESRI Federal User Conference February 18-20, 2009 in Washington, DC.
TerraGo Technologies announced enhancements to its products that add support for the proposed geospatial extensions to ISO 32000. In related news, the specification for TerraGo’s original GeoPDF was recently approved by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) as an OGC Best Practice. By adding support for the ISO 32000 extension, TerraGo customers can now create GeoPDFs that adhere to either specification.
Capturx software for fast GIS collection will be showcased at ESRI Federal User Conference on the exhibit floor and in the International Development paper session. Over 28 federal agencies and numerous state and local governments are using Capturx to enable maps, forms, designs, and notes to be printed on ordinary paper, marked up with a digital pen, and then integrated directly into ESRI ArcGIS, Microsoft Office, and CAD applications.
Telmap unveiled Telmap5, an innovative solution for location based services. Telmap5 addresses a number of key challenges facing the industry today, in as much as personalizing the user experience, and providing a service that moves beyond the experience of in-car and pedestrian navigation. Telmap5 becomes the world’s first truly personalized location companion.
Skyhook Wireless announced that Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) will integrate Skyhook’s XPS – the world’s first hybrid positioning system – into TI’s mobile connectivity solutions. Skyhook’s XPS software solution will enable hybrid location positioning capabilities on TI’s NaviLink 6.0 and WiLink 6.0 solutions, available , and on select future platforms. Skyhook and TI demonstrated the combined solutions with leading social network, local search and geo-tagging applications at Mobile World Congress.
NAVTEQ announced the availability of NAVTEQ Traffic Patterns Europe v2.0, a significantly updated historic database that now includes coverage for the United Kingdom.
NAVTEQ also showcased its latest developer offerings and developer partner efforts at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. These demonstrations reaffirm the depth and breadth of the NAVTEQ Network for Developers (NN4D), a program that provides developers and business partners with the technical and business support needed to build, showcase and launch innovative, location-enabled solutions.
Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase, Inc., a leader in mobile messaging services announced the release of SMS Locator Service at GSMA Mobile World Congress currently underway in Barcelona.
SMS Locator Service is an intelligent SMS geo-location service with advanced geographic information enabling mobile subscribers to request turn-by-turn directions of locations closest to their current position. SMS Locator Service interface with natural language software guides users through the process, providing prompts when necessary and allowing the user to make requests using their own words by supporting abbreviations, acronyms, nicknames and common misspellings.
DeLorme will be exhibiting for the first time at the Feb. 23-25 ESRI Petroleum User Group conference in Houston. The company will be previewing an upcoming extension that will enable ESRI users to export map views for display on the DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 handheld GPS.
The ruggedized, waterproof Earthmate PN-40 GPS is capable of displaying aerial imagery, topographic and street maps, points of interest, and nautical charts. The device utilizes a high-visibility 65K-color transflective TFT color screen for readability in any lighting conditions.
Met GeoInfo has released CityGRID 2009; this version of the revolutionary 3D management software further improves model performance and increases the ability for the sharing of 3D city models. System enhancements enable users to find information faster and easier than ever before, with improvements to CityGRID Manager, Administrator, Reader/Writer and Modeler.
CartoPac Field Solutions, powered by Spatial Data Technologies, Inc. and New Century Software, Inc. have announced that they are offering a joint solution to the oil and gas pipeline industry that creates an efficient round-trip workflow between the field and the office by integrating a number of their applications and processes. This synergy will help to manage legacy pipeline data, minimize data silos, improve field data collection, and implement data model standards. While CartoPac Field Solutions offers a total office-to-field solution for field data collection, New Century Software provides the tools for the data to be loaded, managed, and
analyzed within a pipeline GIS.
DMTI Spatial (DMTI) has introduced the second of its six innovative Location Content Cartridges (LCC) designed to address specific industry business needs. The Risk & Profit LCC is a comprehensive solution providing next generation content for expanding risk analysis undertaken in mortgage and property & casualty insurance. This new content will enable clients to increase profit, improve line of sight to risk while reducing claims and defaults.
Trimble announced that it has launched Trimble VRS iScope service in Europe. The add-on service offers Trimble VRS Now subscribers the ability to track and manage their assets in real-time, as well as view their session history and rover information.
The Trimble VRS Now service supplies fast, easy to use and accurate Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) correction data for a variety of applications including surveying, urban planning, construction, agriculture, asset management, transportation, environmental monitoring, resource and territory management, disaster prevention and relief, weather services and scientific research.
Around the Web
The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives
by John Markoff, February 16, 2009, The New York Times
(registration required) - The cellphone is the world’s most ubiquitous computer. The four billion cellphones in use around the globe carry personal information, provide access to the Web and are being used more and more to navigate the real world. And as cellphones change how we live, computer scientists say, they are also changing how we think about information.
An $80 Billion Start
February 17, 2009, Editorial, The New York Times
(registration required) - Wrapped inside the economic stimulus package is about $80 billion in spending, loan guarantees and tax incentives aimed at promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, higher-mileage cars and coal that is truly clean. As a stand-alone measure, these investments would amount to the biggest energy bill in history.
Mobile World Congress roundup
February 18, 2009, CNET News.com
|Houston Marriott Westchase
Houston, TX USA
From senior executives to GIS professionals, you will take away from the PUG Conference ideas and tools you can put to work immediately. See how to widen the scope of your GIS investment and invite your colleagues who work in IT and HSSE to learn how they can use GIS.
Las Vegas, NV USA
As a surveying, engineering, construction, mapping, GIS, geospatial and mobile resource management professional, Trimble Dimensions 2009 attendance is your ticket to greater success. Choose from more than 300 sessions and learn how to get the most from your positioning equipment. Listen to industry leaders discuss the future of positioning. Connect with peers from around the world and share information and explore new solutions in our partner pavilion.
|Best Western Gateway Grand
Gainesville, FL USA
The Florida Region of ASPRS will be hosting the 2nd Annual Florida ASPRS Geospatial Symposium Feb 25th 2009. We are also hosting an ASPRS Certification Preparation Course taught by Bob Burtch the day before, for anyone interested in pursuing their Certified Photogrammetrist (CP), or Certified Mapping Scientist (CMS) certifications (or their respective Technologist Certifications).
Caliper Corporation, a worldwide leader in GIS, transportation and mapping software, invites you to express interest in Maptitude training classes. Please contact Caliper as soon as possible to express interest in these training dates.
This seminar will help attendees to maximise their return on investment in CAD software. Autodesk will outline a user case study on behalf of a local council, showcasing how AutoCAD Map 3D brings together design and geographic information, and Dotted Eyes will present on key issues such as configuration, optimisation of data storage and future proofing.
Coastal GeoTools is the conference series that focuses on the technical information needs of the nation's coastal programs. The theme for 2009 is "Building the Digital Coast", a new initiative that provides easy access to organized and relevant data, tools, and technical training.
|MARRIOTT WATERFRONT HOTEL
BALTIMORE, MD USA
ASPRS proudly celebrates its 75th Anniversary throughout 2009, with special events taking place at the 2009 Annual Conference in Baltimore.
|Crocus Expo Exhibition Centre
The 6th International industrial Forum of geodesy, cartography, navigation, geoinformation systems, engineering geology and geophysics, tunnel and utility systems construction.
|Grand Media Congress Hotel Villach
The topic of this conference is the request for concerted activities to ensure that agriculture will be able to feed worldwide the ongoing growing population.Climate change, the reduction of natural resources, a stronger demand for bioenergy, urbanization and environmental protection, are additional mega-trends that have to be considered. Hence, globally there is a strong demand for technologies and practical instruments for improving the planning, development and management of agriculture.
|Hotel Allegro Chicago
171 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601 USA
American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE)
is pleased to welcome you to the 12th Annual Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Conference & Exhibition, March 15-18, 2009 in beautiful Chicago, Illinois! In addition to a wide variety of presentations, panels and open discussions with Airport GIS managers, government officials, consultants and vendors, the conference provides: an educational Introduction to Airport GIS roundtable for those new to airport GIS, an Exhibit Room, and opportunities for sharing lessons learned with airports from across the U.S. and around the world.
|Westin Washington, DC City Center
Washington, DC USA
MAPPS will return to Washington, DC to meet with agency representatives and walk the halls of the U.S. Capitol, to visit with members of Congress, March 17 and 18 during the annual Federal Programs Conference. The meeting will focus on the partnerships MAPPS has with federal agencies engaged in geospatial work. The highlight of the conference is the time MAPPS members spend on Capitol Hill with their members of Congress advocating legislation and policies impacting the geospatial marketplace. Open to MAPPS Members Only.
|Sylvester Powell, Jr. Community Center
6200 Martway, Mission, KS 66202 USA
Seiler invites you to jump ahead of your competition and experience a jam packed day filled with various educational seminars where we will address your workflows and business challenges and their “Solutions” for your Industry.
|JN Tata Auditorium
Bangalore , India
With almost 300 million Indians living in urban areas (in 3700 towns and cities), the country has the second largest urban population in the world and it is growing at a rapid pace of over 31 percent over the last decade due to higher employment rates in urban areas. It comprises of about 30 per cent of the total population in urban areas and contributes to over 60 per cent of the country's GDP.
|Wyndham Hotel and Palm Springs Convention Center
Palm Springs, CA USA
As an ESRI business partner, you are invaluable to the advancement of GIS. The BPC Conference is designed for you, planned to give you the best opportunities to network with ESRI staff and
other partners as well as learn about the most recent developments in geospatial technology and how to leverage them in your business. Stay current and competitive and attend this premier event that fuels the strength and
Join 8,000 geographers, GIS specialists, and environmental scientists from around the world in Las Vegas for the very latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience, during the annual conference of the Association of American Geographers, to be held
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|Wyndham Hotel and Palm Springs
Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA USA
Be part of the 2009 ESRI Developer Summit—the ideal resource for professionals developing on an ESRI platform. Connect with ESRI staff and software developers from around the world to explore trends, tips, and best practices for effective GIS development. Attend the 2009 Summit to access the best in spatial developer resources.
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