Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Google's approach to user generated map updates not working?

My friend Greg Johnson found this interesting story saying that Google is hiring 300 people for a year to work "to improve the accuracy of Google Maps", though the commentary is rather uninformed (IMHO!). It doesn't discuss the fact that Google ditched Tele Atlas in the US 7 months ago to use their own data, and were widely perceived as having taken quite a step back in terms of data quality, as reported by various people including me, James, Matt, and Maitri. Google's vision seemed to be that they would improve the data quality over time by allowing users to report errors, but I had questioned whether typical users would be motivated to submit error reports, when it was easier to just switch to using Bing or MapQuest or whoever, who used more proven data from Tele Atlas or NAVTEQ. And most people interested in doing their own mapping are more likely to use OpenStreetMap, so they and others can use the raw data they have created (Google's equivalent, Mapmaker, is only available in some countries, and only lets you use raster map tiles derived from the data you have created rather than the raw data, and only under the terms of the Google Maps API which has various restrictions).

The article says that Google is paying $14.50 an hour, so a back of the envelope calculation for 300 people for a year says that they will be spending around $8.5m on labor alone (excluding overheads), which is not a huge deal for Google, but not insignificant either. Perhaps there is some other grand new plan behind this, but I have to think that this indicates that Google has realized they have a lot of work to do to improve their map data.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Location based art: Audio Graffiti

One of the cool things about the Ubisense Real Time Location System (RTLS) is that customers come up with all sorts of interesting applications that we would never have thought of. We have had several artists doing cool things with the system - check out the video below showing "Audio Graffiti" by Zack Settel and Mike Wozniewski, powered by Ubisense. Users can "tag" or "spray" sounds at a location, and other users hear these as they move around the space. Click through on the video for more information.

Audio Graffiti no. 2 from Mike Wozniewski on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Location and the Internet of Things

Last night I presented at Ignite Spatial NoCo (Northern Colorado) in Fort Collins. There was a great turnout of 200 people and some excellent 5 minute presentations (plus a few that I thought were a bit too much "corporate sales presentations" for an Ignite event). There was a fun map competition, in which teams had to create a relief map of Colorado using an assort of supplied materials like cardboard, egg cartons, cloth, cotton wool, pasta, etc - I was impressed at what everyone came up with! Congratulations to Brian Sullivan for organizing a great event. And thanks to Glenn Letham for videoing the presentations.

You can see my presentation below, which was on "Location and the Internet of Things". The Ignite format allows you 20 slides which advance every 15 seconds, for a total of 5 minutes - it's quite tricky to get the timing right. I will try to post with a few tips on doing Ignite presentations soon, this was my third go at this format.

Update: Glenn has now posted a better quality video of the presentation on youtube (original ustream video included below too, just in case):

And here is the ustream version as a backup (clicking the small play icon at the bottom of the window below seems to work better for me than the large play icon in the middle, an eccentricity of ustream :) !)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Video of GITA panel on geodata creation and sharing

As I had mentioned previously, I moderated a panel at the GITA conference in Phoenix last week called "Not your father's approach to geodata creation and sharing" with a distinguished cast of geo-characters: Steve Coast, founder of OpenStreetMap and Cloudmade, James Fee, blogger and evangelist at WeoGeo, Ron Lake, Chairman and CEO of Galdos, and Andrew Turner, CTO of FortiusOne.

We had a lot of interesting discussion, Joe Francica did a nice writeup, and Dale Lutz said the panel was "the buzz of the conference". So without further ado, here is the video, an hour and 45 minutes long :O !!

GITA Panel: Not your father's approach to geodata creation and sharing from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

Maybe I'll try to do an edited highlights version at some point, but don't have time right now! I may also blog a bit on lessons learned from moderating a panel like this. There's a tricky balance between just letting it flow and trying to impose a bit of structure, or cut topics off when they go too long or get into too much detail. Overall I think it worked out pretty well but there are a few things I would do a little differently next time.