New Batch Of Compelling Geospatial Tools & Companies Embrace Future At Where 2.0

New Batch Of Compelling Geospatial Tools & Companies Embrace Future At Where 2.0
June 21, 2011 Mike Tully

In April 2011, I had the pleasure of attending Where 2.0 in sunny San Jose, California on behalf of Aerial Services and our subsidiary SpatialCloud. The event, now in its seven year, has evolved over time to become a premier place for geospatial technologists, investors, and developers to meet to consider what is next in geospatial technology and share their progress. There were a few topic nodes which were hot and potentially very useful at the event: mobile, cloud computing, location based services, & open source software. Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s event for you to checkout.

Mobile & LBS

PhoneGap – Want to develop a mobile application for all the varying platforms all at once? Want to do it using standard coding languages like HTML5 and Javascript? PhoneGap specializes in allowing native access via these easy to use coding languages to the devices’ geo-relevant sensors. Once you prep the app, you can compile them via PhoneGaps online cloud service and then distribute to end-users.

EveryScape/UScape.It – You may have seen web 3D panoramas when searching for a favorite hotel or your next home, but what about making your own with your iPhone? EveryScape’s UScape.It app allows iPhone users to quickly and easily make their own geospatially aware 3D panoramas. Just spin around, upload, and share.

Groupon – This daily deal company is expanding to provide “GrouponNow” deals. You can get deals sent to you on demand based on your location and the location of nearby retailers whom have an immediate need to sell stock of their product. This allows retailers to sell excess stock in a timely way and allows you to reap the rewards when you are nearby.

Waze – Make driving “fun again” by using Waze to route you to your destination while racking up “points” in a massive realtime network of Waze drivers. For the live data you send back to Waze’s servers via your mobile’s GPS chip, Waze rewards you with points and potentially real world rewards in the future.

Cloud Computing & APIs

Mapstraction – Ever code a webmap mash-up in one API, like Google Maps, and then wish you could use it on another API, like Microsoft Bing Maps or Open Street Maps/Open Layers? Well, with Mapstraction, you can code to one location API library and quickly port your work to another API within minutes.

SimpleGeo – Developing the next big application with geo-location baked in? Checkout SimpleGeo’s storage, context, and places databases accessible on a per call to database basis. Their robust location infrastructure and services were developed when they themselves needed these tool to develop their own applications.

Microsoft Photosynth – Microsoft’s Photosynth harnesses your photos location data allows users to upload such images with shared boarders/overlapping images to create seamless panoramas with varying depths. After you create your “Synth” you can share these views with your friends on Facebook, publish them to Bing Maps, or embed them in your own Web site.

Google Fusion Tables – Not an API developer but want to create useful Google Maps/Earth mashups like those you see on the web? Try Fusion Tables. The service allows easy upload of spreadsheet data and then allows such data to be viewed on maps, timelines, or charts. In addition, familiar Google “sharing” controls are included allowing you to expose and share with others.

Google Earth Builder – Like Google Maps/Earth’s interface, API, and user clients but have your own custom geospatial data you’d like to visualize? No problem with Earth Builder. Google’s big announcement at Where 2.0 was this new service which sources Google’s internal data workflows and gives easy to use access to end-users to the power of Google’s mapping engine. Upload, process, search, and distribute your custom geodata via Google’s ecosystem.

Open Source

Polymaps – With the advent of new HTML5 standards for modern web browsers, geospatial vector data can be served in new and more efficient ways, like shown in the JavaScript library called Polymaps. It supports vector “tiles” that are rendered with Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), then the vector geometry is loaded on the fly and in the browser via GeoJSON.

MapBox – Want to roll your own webmap in a customized and affordable way? Consider MapBox’s TileMill & TileStream tools. Their TilMill tool make import, styling, and export of fast tile-based slippy-style maps easy. Then TileStream serves those tiles for you in a easy to use server setup. They even have an iPad application to view your tiled datasets offline and mobile. You can pay MapBox to host for you or grab the open source code and do it yourself.

These were just a handful of interesting companies, products, services, and developments noted at Where 2.0 2011. Hopefully some of these tools can be useful to you in your work; but implement fast! Geospatial technology is constantly evolving and there is no telling what will change in the next year and what we’ll see at Where 2.0 2012.