Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Clearflow and INRIX

I see news that Microsoft is rolling out ClearFlow. When I search for INRIX and ClearFlow I don’t get any hits. Microsoft spun off INRIX a few years ago to do realtime traffic modeling. Washington Post has a write-up on INRIX here.

Note that INRIX is essentially a crowdsourcing (or VGI) scheme.

So is Clearflow competing with INRIX, or is it using it somewhere behind the scenes?

Mobile GIS for 3rd World Development

Last month a spatial app, Live Traffic, won 2nd place ($5000) in the Nokia Open C challenge:

Live Traffic is a traffic assistance software that provides real-time traffic volumes, developed by a project team of four developers, led by by Pu Zhihua of Shanghai, China. Live Traffic adopts FCD (Floating Car Data) technology to acquire road traffic information anywhere anytime, and publish mapped traffic information to Nokia phone users via GPRS or EDGE connections. The developers ported 2,500 lines of code via Open C.

First place winner got $10,000 for … oh, don’t ask, suffice to say it is yet another video app.

Nokia is not a member of the Open Handset Alliance, which is promoting the Android API designed by Google, so I guess they are competing for market. With the top award for Google’s Android Developer Challenge set at $275,000, I bet Android beats out Open C.

I’m not certain, but it looks like an entry to the Android challenge could leverage the MapView. So maybe the grand prize winner will be something useful instead of yet another way to watch TV.

The Revolution will not be on Streaming Video

Like the folks at the One Laptop Per Child program, it seems like the US geospatial community is too focused on laptops/desktops as a hardware platform. At Large points out a good article about mobile phones in Africa (“Can Cell phones Save the World?”). I like the system described here by Manobi, but it seems like it needs spatial enablement.

What we need are some slick mobile geospatial apps for 3rd world development.

In a country like Bangladesh, for example, almost every everyone has a mobile phone while few have (or need?) laptops.

I suggest developing a mobile app that connects farmers, truckers, and packers. Imagine an eBay like system on mobile phones that connect these three groups of users. Location would be important since transport costs are such a large factor. Farmers (who rarely own trucks) would contract to sell produce to packers and have it delivered by truckers. The packer they choose would be based on trucking cost subtracted from the price offered by packer. Truckers would offer prices based on routing costs, (including deadhead), coordinating between multiple pickup locations.

With three people involved in a transaction (farmers, truckers, and packers), would it be possible for an eBay-like rating system?

If so, then the payoff could be substantial.

If I were Google

I read about VCs putting money into location based spam. To me this is the wrong approach. I’ll just start turning off my cell phone. It’s an annoyance with no benefit.

When I go into Google Maps and “Get Directions” from one address to another, I would like to see a button at the bottom that says “save my journey”. Pushing this button would save the path described. Google could then offer a broad range of services based on journeys I’ve saved. Any service they offer me that uses my journey could also present an unobtrusive ad for a business somewhere along that path.

Here in San Antonio the service might include alerts from TransGuide. Better yet, Google could track my progress along my saved route to determine traffic conditions via cell phone geolocation, similar to Inrix’s dust network. Of course this would take a critical mass of subscribers, but Google’s good at getting massive. In exchange for letting Google track me, and send me ads, I would get accurate traffic conditions.

Journey based advertising could be very focused. The location of the origin and destination of a journey would provide important demographics so that a business located along a journey could target their ads. Who knows, maybe Starbucks might start building cafes in poor neighborhoods if they knew the demographics of the cars driving past.