Web2.0 Routing Analysis
In a recent interview with Government Computer News, Jack Dangermond describes the differences between Google and ESRI. Google is focused on visualization, while ESRI is focused more on spatial analysis services with authoritative data.
In my opinion, Google’s iPhone routing application (described here by Peter Batty) constitutes spatial analysis for the masses – or at least for the masses interested in transit.
I think ESRI could compete with Google in this arena by providing a service where their business partners could develop Network Solvers to complement the one offered by ArcGIS Online. The architecture for integrating these solvers would be similar to that used by Network Analyst.
Instead of relying on advertising revenue, ESRI could offer something similar to Amazon Web Service’s cost calculator, but extended so that business partners could set a price for usage of their solver. This price would be added by ESRI to the ArcGIS Online bill sent to those who use the service, in addition to charges for cpu usage, geodatabase i/o etc., on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Put the Author back in Authoritative
Consider, for example a travelling salesman (TSP) solver. While there are some TSP algorithms that work on the client side, I suspect many might be too chatty and are best implemented behind the firewall. A business partner could develop a solver, expose it as a service, then sell a routing application at Salesforce.com’s AppExchange that consumes it.
If ESRI could also web-enable model builder (as I’ve describe here) the solver could also be exposed as a geoprocessing tool.