GIS Movers and Shakers Target LBS
By: GeoCommunity Staff, Editor, The GeoCommunity
Date: February 13, 2001
It's kind of funny, I've worked in the GIS industry for
10 years and now I'm also involed in the development of wireless solutions, internet mapping,
and other location specific projects, yet I often find myself wondering what exactly are location-based solutions and how is this
any different from any other GIS, GPS, CAD or geo-spatial solution?
It seems like many people have their own perception of what LBS' are.
What sets LBS apart from traditional geo-spatial solutions is an implied "wireless" or "mobile" component.
The location in LBS is basically a given. Really isn't any GIS based project or application
a location-based service? Sure it is. So, to make it simple, think of location-based services as a solution
to a location dependent problem developed to be mobile and portable. LBS' are generally developed to integrate
wired, wireless, and voice enabled devices. LBS apps. are developed to be accessible via wired and wireless devices,
web browsers, pagers, phones or ?? If your still unsure, read on to find out how the leading players in the
traditional GIS industry are getting involved in LBS. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of companies claiming
to be involved in delivering LBS solutions (just pick up a copy of WirlessWorld or InfoWorld and you'll see what I mean),
however, I've chosen to to take a look at traditional GIS companies and explain how they are now marketing themselves as
Location-Based Service providers.
Slogan: MapInfo provides
solutions and services
that help businesses
MapInfo bills a section dedicated to wireless, location-based technologies as "MapInfo Mobile". you won't find
them with a new or dedicated web portal, however, upon visiting the website there's definitely a wireless focus
to the content. The company's end user customers can now use their web-enabled mobile
phone or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) to be located and to
access information and services relevant to where they are. Driving this is the company's
MapInfo MapXtend™ "A robust developer environment for creating location-based wireless handheld applications."
Technology Edition is a developer tool
for creating location-based applications
running on wireless handheld devices. The technology is touted as scalable
and flexible. It integrates with other MapInfo Internet technologies, including
MapInfo® MapXtreme® mapping server, MapInfo® MapMarker® geocoding engine, and
MapInfo® Routing J Server. What are its uses? Example applications include;
Network alarm response, Infrastructure repairs, Call-before-you-dig, and field access.
- Oracle 8i Enterprise Edition Release 8.1.5 or 8.1.6 with Oracle 8i Spatial Option Release 8.1.5 or 8.1.6
- Oracle 8.0.x (running MapInfo® SpatialWare™ 4.0)
- MapInfo tables
- Informix Universal Server 9.14 (running with SpatialWare 4.0)
- IBM DB2 Universal Database 5.0 (running with SpatialWare 4.0)
- Microsoft SQL Server 7.0
- Microsoft Access
Demonstrations and downloads are available
- MapInfo Software Supported (Administrator)
- MapInfo® MapXtreme™ Java™ Edition 3.1
- MapInfo® MapMarker J Server™ 2.1
- MapInfo® Routing J Server™ 1.1
Autodesk Location Services
Slogan: Powering Location-Based Technologies...
Launched on January 23, 2001, Autodesk is the proud owner of the newest LBS focused portal.
The company will be using this site to promote the company's solutions designed for developers of location-based
applications. The featured products are not new, however, it looks like this website will be the home for everything
you wanted to know about Autodesk OnSite and Autodeks MapGuide Commerce.
Autodesk MapGuide® Commerce is for developing
and operating hosted environments that deliver
commercial location-based services.
What caught my eye was a section called
the "robust development platform " which is to be announced. The LBS platform
combines Autodesk core technology, web expertise, and mapping
experience to make it the platform of choice for wireless carriers, network
operators, and application developers. Look for solutions that will integrate
spatial, non-spatial, and other database products with wirelessdevices, wired networks, and even voice
It appears that partnerships have already been struck. Ericsson, Geodan Mobile Solutions, Palm
Computing, Oracle, and AvantGo are all on board and the call is out for other
interested partners and developers to touch base with the company. In North America, interested
partners are requested to contact (415) 507-4454 or email email@example.com. A number of
other points of conotact are listed on the website.
You can visit the Autodesk Location Services Website at
Want the whole story about Autodesk Location Services? You might find this White Paper titled
"Autodesk Location Services" (PDF) to be useful.
About Autodesk OnSite
Autodesks's solution to enterprise asset management for mobile field workforces is one
of the first products for handheld devices designed for managing maps, data, and
designs while in the field. The outcome of a partnership between Autodesk and Oracle,
Autodesk® OnSite "is an end-to-end enterprise business system that delivers
interactive map and design information to a mobile workforce."
Requirements: Palm Vx mobile device, Palm OS 3.3, Fujitsu PenCentra 130, Symbol PPT 2700, WinCE 2.11
Autodesk OnSite servlet technology:Pentium-based PC, 128MB RAM, Autodesk MapGuide Release 4 software, Windows NT Server 4.0, Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0,
Cost: request info at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Autodesk OnSite uses three leading technologies:
Oracle 8i and Oracle 8i Lite
Palm Computing and Microsoft Windows CE handheld devices
Autodesk MapGuide® web software
Supported Vector data formats:
- Autodesk MapGuide SDF and SDL files
- Autodesk DWG and DXF™
- Autodesk VISION*®
- Oracle8i Spatial
- ESRI ArcView SHP
- ESRI ARC/INFO coverage
- Intergraph DGN
- MapInfo MIF/MID
- Atlas BNA
- CSV (comma-delimited file)
- Oracle8i (and Oracle8i Lite)
- MS Access
- dBase III and IV
- Other OLE/DB-compatible databases
Slogan: Intelligence About Where You Are...
On December 14, 2000 Intergraph officially threw their hat into the wireless/LBS arena with the announcement
of a new global division... IntelliWhere.
The new division brings industry-proven technology to emerging wireless and location-based services industries.
In the words of Intergraph Corp., "IntelliWhere is a
software and solutions infrastructure provider focused
specifically on the wireless and location-based service
At the heart of the Intelliwhere site is the new "Solution" section. This area gives up details about the
IntelliWhere™ Genie. IntelliWhere™ Genie is a solution that allows you to deliver and receive information that is
related to a particular location, such as:
Specific characteristics that make IntelliWhere™ Genie special include:
- your current location (e.g. find my nearest ATM)
- other locations (e.g. Show me how to get from Customer A to Customer B, avoiding
the traffic jams)
- complex location analysis (e.g. show me which valves to turn off to isolate gas
supply at this location)
Those of you requiring specific details about Intelliwhere Genie should visit the
IntelliWhere Solutions page. This white paper titled
IntelliWhere™ Genie for the Enterprise will get you started!
- Device independence
- Data format independence
- Scalable, supporting multi-processor, multi-server distributed environments
- Fast - proven to support over 500,000 maps per day output
- Open, industry standard architecture
- Fast development - using industry standard tools
- Proven in practice - and owned by the largest geo-spatial solutions company in the
Press Release -
Intergraph Announces the Launch of a New Global Division Called IntelliWhere
ESRI Location Services
Slogan: Harness the Power of Location: GIS by ESRI
So far it looks like ESRI is the last one of the 'major' GIS players to not clearly define if or how they
are going to enter the LBS arena. Sure they have ArcPad, however, all the other players seem to be setting up
vertical sectors (and vertical web portals) targetted at the "sexy" LBS industry. Recently, you may have noticed
a couple of attempts on ESRI's part to bolster their presence in this market. A re-launch of JavaLocationServices,
a joint effort of SUN and ESRI was announced. Visitors to this site will find papers, product literature, and solutions,
all focused on ESRI solutions focused on location-based services. All of ESRI's popular products are prominently featured,
and particularly interesting is a section that lists a number of LBS solutions offered by a host of competing
and complementary vendors (some of the listings are out of date ie. Autodesk's Project Mauii).
More recently is a new section at esri.com targeted at Telecomunications and Location Services. What first caught
my eye was an excellent definition of Location Services Solutions.
Locating people, places, and assets has always been an important
endeavor. Now with the convergence of wireless communications,
network computing, location determination, and increasingly portable
devices, the implementation of location services and applications
demands powerful and easy-to-use geographic information system
Early in March, 2001 I had the pleasure of meeting one on one with Jack Dangermond at the GITA conference in San Diego. Regarding LBS, Dangermond pointed out that there are some 300+ LBS sites currently using ESRI technology for travel, directions, emergency response, and more than 500+ systems currently in place for routing and delivery. ESRI's involvement in LBS actually dates back a number of years with major milestones including e-gov, yellowpages, realtor.com, and visa.com which was launched in 1994. With the Geography network now in full swing and part of ESRI's "GNET" architecture, increased sharing of data is now possible via a distributed network environment. This has helped to lay the foundation for a server based system and given a real shot in the arm to the GIS industry. ESRI's solution and focus on LBS is to deliver the LBS core technology and partners do the hosting.
"Location services combine
GIS applications with
easy-to-use mobile devices to
provide information wherever
and whenever it is needed. The
GIS technology behind these
services will empower an
increasingly diverse range of
applications, putting even more
valuable information in the
hands of mobile users." Jack
Dangermond, president, ESRI (quote from JavaLocationServices website)
I'm sure we will hear more from ESRI in the future as they go after a bigger piece of the LBS market. With almost 1 million seats (avg. of 10 seats per customer) and an annual growth rate of 22% ESRI does not need to convince us that they wish to target the LBS market; thay already have!
Slogan: Turning Web Traffic Into Store Traffic...
Vicinity is a name you might not associate with traditional GIS but you better think of them
if your interested in LBS. You may be familiar with Vicinity's mapping technology -
(www.mapblast.com). Mapblast! is a leading provider of interactive maps and
online driving directions and. Mapblast! is a free service and anyone can easily incorporate
their maps into a website. A common use for this has been to produce a quick graphic showing customers
how to locate you.
Vicinity has built on their expertise by enabling users of the latest in wireless technologies
to perform a number of location-based functions including; spatial searches, "near me" routines,
proximity searches, geocoding of addresses, and user location identification.
Partnerships with Verizon Wireless, Omnisky, At&T, Palm, and Nextel Online are in place
making their services available from a number of wireless service providers.
A white paper detailing Vicinity's
Business Finder Solution (PDF) will provide you with additional information
Over the past 2 years we've run thousands of news releases via SpatialNews. During that time several companies have
received a fair bit of my attention. These are companies that likely won't show up in a search for GIS, geo-spatial, GPS
companies. They are, however, companies that I find have made great strides in penetrating the LBS arena and will
likely be names that you will become more familiar with in the future as trhe LBS and GIS worlds collide.
@Road (pronounced at-road) - In 1998 @Road unveiled an Internet-based Mobile Resource Management
(MRM) solution and built an open platform Application Program Interface (API) to address
mobile commerce industry partners interested in using the @Road patented technology.
@Road is expanding its fully scalable network to offer
a wide realm of LocationSmart services that can be accessed through any
AirFlash, Inc. is a service provider (ASP) of wireless location and
Founded in July 1998 by industry pioneer Rama Aysola, AirFlash provides relevant
and accurate location-specific information to mobile carriers and portals for
services such as: yellow pages and directions; local events, movies and attractions; and
travel and commuter updates through its patent-pending SmartZone environment.
If you have a data-capable
mobile phone, then you can try out a US-based demo service
InfoMove - developer of personalized, location-based applications and wireless services
tailored for use in the automobile. The company integrates driver-specific content and
applications and private-labels its services to strategic partners for wireless delivery to
consumers through handheld PC's, cellular phones and in-dash car systems.
JShape - you may have heard of JShape and maybe KShape but
what about MShape? MShape is an internet mobile map viewer. By specifing the desired ZIP Code or Telephone Number, MShape can zoom-in
and display the map at the focused area. Key components are:
MShape Map Viewer - a micro map viewer on J2ME KVM devices
JSGateway - a UDP-TCP protocol converter gateway, which receives the map requests from MShape Map Viewers
and pass them to MShape Map Server
MShape Map Server - is an HTTP based map server, which dynamically generates the map images based on the
requested from the MShape Map Viewers.
Don't expect any fancy marketing from the developer, however, the "x"Shape products continue to evolve.
Kivera - provides products for Web, wireless, and
in-vehicle applications. You can host and run Powered by Kivera private-label
services from your own site, or soon via the Kivera ASP service center. Kivera absorbs data about our physical world - roads,
business, residences, contacts, landmarks, etc...
and translates it into a standard form that is optimized for fast searching, routing and display.
It then distributes the results in many formats for customers on the web, on the road and on the phone.
Kivera is in trial deployment with its WAP location service.
A demo of how Kivera functions on a WAP phone is
available here. Kivera has partnerships established with AAA, SUN, GDT, BeVocal, Denso, XYPoint, NavTech,
Tadpole-Cartesia - Tadpole-Cartesia, a division of Tadpole Technology Plc, is a pioneer of
Java-based field information systems for the world’s utility, telecommunications
and public service industries. Its enterprise-wide field information system
Cartesia brings the full advantages of corporate workflow to the mobile
environment. Tadpole-Cartesia's Conic
family of products addresses all the needs of a field workforce: access, collection,
verification and update of spatially related information. The heart of Tadpole’s Cartesia field information system is its
Enterprise Field Server (EFS) to coordinate and manage information workflow to
and from the field. I recently had the pleasure of getting a first hand look at the
J-Slate, Tadpole's Reliable, Rugged, Powerful and Inexpensive Mobile Computing
Webraska - Webraska is a worldwide provider of wireless
navigation, mapping and traffic information
services and technologies for telecom operators
and car manufacturers. The company delivers turn-by-turn directions and proximity services
and traffic maps to wireless operators. The Webraska Global Navigation Database contains all the digital map, real-time traffic,
point of interest and public transport network data accessed by the Global Navigation
Server. They are featured in the news fairly often and will likely turn up even more
regularly now that they have secured some major financing (€52 Million).
Wireless Location Industry Association (WLIA) - Like any other industry, wireless organizations are popping up.
Approximately eight or nine
companies in the wireless location industry are
members. WLIA is the voice of the emerging wireless location industry. WLIA's member
companies provide hardware, software, services and other products related to the
new ability to locate the precise origin of wireless radio signals and add consumer
value based on the geography of wireless users. The Deadline for becoming a Charter Member is March 31, 2001.
WLIA FactSheet (PDF)
Suggested LBS Reading
Are you involved in location-based services, or have we missed something that you feel should
have been mentioned here? Tell the