The GeoSmart Location Innovation Awards


During the day I work for GeoSmart Maps Ltd, a subsidiary of the NZ Automobile Association.

We have just launched the Location Innovation Awards. I’m hoping that if you are in New Zealand you will join in the fun and get your thinking juices flowing.

The background is that we know that LBS (Location Based Services) will become commonly used technology in 4-5 years and people will participate as if they have been doing it all their lives. GeoSmart has the tools to facilitate this type of technology now, so we have launched a competition to get people to develop concepts today.

There are four categories which are explained on the website (which went live today) and they have the potential to have a significant impact on people’s lives.

For example:

Imagine you are a tourist hopping off the plane at Queenstown Airport and as you head to the luggage conveyor area you see a billboard with a promotion offering you amazing deals on various local attractions. If you text ‘Queenstown Live’ to a short code, you will have $20 deducted from your account and will be offered a range of services at huge discounts. When you get to the main town pier in Queenstown you get a text message saying that if you get down to the ticket office within the next 10 minutes you can enjoy the 4P.M. jet boat experience for only $25, a saving of $70. Without the promotion, the jet boat might go out half empty. This way they sell more seats and make a profit on the trip and the tourist gets a great deal.

Or

You are a member of a jogging club on Facebook. You are in Nelson  on business and decide to stay over for the weekend. You are interested in finding a jogging buddy to go for a run with. Through an application on your phone or a map application on Facebook, you are able to locate someone to go for a run with who is also in the area.

The story we have sent to the media today is as follows:

Bringing the future forward with the Location Innovation Awards

In the near future, location based applications will be commonplace, with electronic coupons being sent to your mobile because you are near a service you have opted-in for such as a Happy Hour deal for the bar you are walking past, or a promotion from your favourite fashion retailer (with whom you have signed up and given your colour, style and size preferences) which knows that you are in the mall.

GeoSmart Maps Ltd wants to bring that future forward to 2009 and has established a competition to encourage people to come up with concepts in 4 categories, being Social Networking, Proximity Based Marketing, LBS Games and widgets for the AA MAPS website. There are prizes for each category and the overall winner will also win a trip to San Jose in the USA to attend the Where 2.0 Conference in May 2009.

The competition isn’t pitched just at developers, a proof of concept demonstration would be great, but a great concept document has just as much chance of winning great prizes from a list of sponsors including Geekzone, Tomizone, Sony Ericsson, TomTom, Vodafone new Zealand and the NZ Automobile Association.

The judging criteria are documented in the entry packs and on the official website at http://www.locationinnovation.co.nz. The judges themselves are well qualified and represent GeoSmart, Massey University, Geekzone and the Wireless and Broadband Forum.

The competition runs from 16 October 2008 and entries are to be in by 16 February 2009. The Awards will be presented at the annual Wireless and Broadband Forum Convergence 2009 event at the Alinghi Base in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin.

Zimbabwe election SMS and other TXT Messages


This weekend President Mugabe is doing everything he can to ensure that he is once again re-elected and it seems that while he is giving cars and houses to doctors along with other good will gestures, the radio stations are being heavily censored. For example, according to Zimbabwe Independant Weekly, last night, all ZBC radio and TV stations stopped normal programming to provide live coverage of Zanu PF’s election manifesto launch that lasted for four hours. Of course the others got no coverage.

Radio stations like SW Radio Africa tried to break through and provide independant coverage by Short Wav Radio and apparently this technology is also being jammed (purportedly and ironically by Chinese technology) so they and other stations are now using SMS technology to bring news headlines to those who want to balance the information flow.

SMS was conceived in the 1980’s primarily as a means to advise people that they had a voice message or had missed a call. The first deployments were in 1993 in Los Angeles, Norway and UK and by 1995 the average usage per GSM subscriber was 0.4 per month!

Today SMS is a way of life and used in so many different ways. Just for me in recent times I have used SMS to comunicate with business clients to confirm appointments and to communicate with coleagues. I have paid for car parking via SMS and this morning sent a woke up message to my daughter in Australia.

I have donated to many charities via SMS, voted for performers on TV and entered competitions by sending an instruction to a Short Code.

On TXT Tunes you can pay to buy and download my songs using SMS.

SMS has had a phenomenal impact on the written language as teenagers created shortcuts in an effort to fit more information into the 160 character messages. Sum adults cn find dis hard to read, but u r not r u? In business I have found this difficult finding young staff who can write a business letter and have found some CV’s on my desk with wrting that automatically precludes potentially very intelligent people from working with me.

In recent times I have been working with projects that allow people to send a SMS request to a GPS locating device, which in turn sends an SMS with spatial co-ordinates to our reverse geocoder that then facilitates sending the nearest street address to the originator again as an SMS message. A next step to this is emergency locator technology for elderly or sick people, where they can send an SMS with the calculated nearest street address to an authority or service if they are in trouble. Car navigation systems will soon be able to do the same when a car has an accident. In New Zealand it is not uncommon for someone to drive down a bank on a winters night and not be able to tell people on their phone where they are. Imagine a system where of airbags are deployed in a car, the bluetooth connection to the driver’s mobile phone automatically sends an SMS with their exact location to the breakdown service.

Watch this space!