Reporting Back


Feels like ages since I wrote my last blog post… The times were quite busy lately as I have FINALLY started to dedicate all my efforts into finishing my thesis. Basically, the thesis takes all the work I’ve done over the last four years, putting it into a more general perspective and deriving a set of (hopefully) universally applicable architecture recommendations.

The topic: the integration of geo-information into mobile applications, with a particular focus on the question how we can support ordinary, non-professional end-users in creating their own location based apps. My vision is that, essentially, creating a location based service should be just as easy as building a map mashup. LBS creation for the masses πŸ˜‰ Things are progressing quite well right now, though it will still take me a few months to get everything onto paper.

4 Responses to “Reporting Back”

  1. 1 Ivan

    WHERE ( has so called “Do It Yourself” GPS widget that let consumers build their own GPS enabled widgets wizard way. For example, one can import Google My Maps mashup and make it into GPS enabled WHERE widget…

  2. Interoperability with Web mapping kits (like My Maps) and standards/formats (like KML), along with wizards-style tools and other “non-programming” solutions (think Yahoo! Pipes, for example) are definitely the future. I hope we’ll be seeing more stuff like the WHERE widget wizard soon!

    But there’s more to it: What about phones without GPS? IMO Yahoo and other initiatives are doing a great job in mapping GSM cell ID geo-coordinates to make location awareness available to a broader range of phone models. And also, I think we shouldn’t yet take manual address entry (by typing) + geocoding out of the equation. This form of “location awareness” may suck usability-wise, but hey, SMS is an excellent example of how UTILITY is often more important than usability.

    And then (but that may be a private passion of mine πŸ˜‰ ) there’s new cool phones coming up that have compass (and sometimes tilt-sensors) built in along with GPS, creating exciting new possibilities for new types of UIs (which also means better usability, potentially!)

    And last but not least: of course we’ll want our user-generated LBS to be based on open standards, eventually, and not just on a single product πŸ˜‰

  3. Hey,

    We ( ) are taking a different approach towards helping GIS reach “the rest of us”. While many of the of the mashup widgets that are being talked about are good for rapidly pushing a simple set of geolocated points or values onto a Google Map, we start the process by doing the opposite. We have a desktop application that allows you to aggregate many layers of geospatial data from disparate sources and allow you to perform basic geo-math between layers to calculate new values… operations that used to be reserved for trained specialists using ARC or serious GIS tools. We even pull Virtual Earth down as a backdrop while you are creating your data. Once calculated your new layer could be pushed to Google Maps or further interacted with in our tool. Sometimes we forget that there is still a need to simplify the analysis that leads to a good mashup. We are focusing on that aspect.

    I know this is different than tossing locations to a phone… but we think this is an important step that is being passed over. Whaddya think?


  4. Hi Jim,

    definitely agree. Spatial analysis is still mostly absent from the mashup scene right now. Getting this out from the GIS-specialists to everybody is the crucial next step in ‘neogeography’!

    I guess that people (including myself) are still in the process of finding out what we can actually do with geospatial data: Right now, putting my geo-referenced points, GPS tracks, or someone else’s XML feed on a Google Map is exciting in its own right; and in a way, spatial analysis is something that maybe just hasn’t occured to most non-experts yet.

    IMO recent technologies like Google’s Mapplets are really helping to change that: by layering multiple mashups on the same map, you suddenly grasp relationships that would otherwise be hard to track. (Like, let’s say, one mashup tells you: housing prices are cheap here; the second one says: crime-rate is high, etc. I’ve also seen a cool demo once done with Yahoo! Pipes (something like ‘compile a list of all houses for rent that are within walking distance of a subway station and a park’). See that in action, and it will really open your eyes on what spatial analysis is, what it can do for you, and why its going to be the next big thing (well, it did for me at least πŸ˜‰ ).

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