Quick Takes on Companies and Ideas at the 2009 Location Intelligence Conference
Here are some tidbits about several "new to me" companies and key ideas from presentations I found at our Location Intelligence Conference held at the beginning of October.
Seaglex Software Seaglex Software is in the same space
as MetaCarta; it offers "a set of technologies that help companies to
collect, categorize, and geo-tag unstructured content - Web pages, news
articles, documents, and other textual data." The distinguisher? It
catalogs and geocodes specific street-level address information -
making it great for hyperlocal apps. If you've looked at some of the
tools that geocode news you've likely run into articles that are
geocoded to just the city and sometimes to the "wrong" city, one that
just happens to be mentioned in the text. Seaglex's app didn't do that
in the demos I saw.
Trillium Software Trillium Software is the
address cleansing/geocoding part of Harte-Hanks. Now, if you think all
of these offerings are the same, Trillium notes it has worldwide
geocoding. Oh, and Pitney Bowes licenses its technology.
Yuri Software Yuri Software is a new player in
the address cleansing, validation, standardization and geocoding space.
I asked Yuri himself about how the offering differs from those of other
players. He didn't hesitate a bit in stating that it's better, faster
and cheaper. I have to respect anyone who is that confident.
SpatialKey SpatialKey is a software
product of Universal Mind. I will use the shorthand and describe
SpatialKey as a "dashboard" for location intelligence. The very slick
Rich Internet Application (RIA)/Cloud/Software as a Service (SaaS)
enterprise solution garnered a lot of questions during a demo in the
"What's in Your Lab?" session.
Infusion Development Infusion Development brought its Microsoft Surface
hardware and Falcon Eye mapping app for attendees to test. I learned
that the biggest challenge of this surface is getting adults to touch
it! Kids have no such problem. I confess I was drawn in by the water
and rocks app they were running during the opening reception. You could
"touch" the water's surface and make ripples - you were literally drawn
in to touch it! The best news about Surface? The interface is in
Windows 7 and the core hardware is coming down to about $12,500.
Developers just need to port their apps to the interface. Infusion can,
among other things, develop an app for you. If you've not played with a
surface yet, be sure to do so soon. They are going to be far more
visible in the coming months.
First of all, Web-GIS provider eSpatial's
CEO, Philip O'Doherty, won the first Location Intelligence 5K (he
started late and caught all of us who left earlier). O'Doherty was on
one of the "cloud panels" and highlighted some key ideas related to
risk. First, cloud computing is very low risk for the users. They are
investing in no hardware and the app provider (companies like eSpatial)
must have something working on "day one." Contrast that with buying
in-house hardware and software - which may never be up and running. (I
suspect many readers have seen that happen in their careers...) Second,
as the app provider, the income is typically slow to trickle in at
first, so there is considerable risk. Still, as the app gets used and
spreads into the enterprise, income goes up and stabilizes. eSpatial is
in the space, so keep it in mind. Keep an eye out for an interview here
with O'Doherty about his vision for Web GIS.
I see press releases from Appistry
now and then, and I only vaguely knew they did "cloud things" for the
likes of GeoEye. I didn't know their cloud platform, CloudIQ, was eight
years old! Mark Sundt, vice president of Professional Services, shared
some really interesting things about Appistry customers: they turn to
Appistry since don't trust the Googles and Amazons. In particular,
customers want to implement clouds in their own data centers. Appistry
gives them the tools to do just that. Some players will one day move
the implementation from a local or hybrid (a mix of some local and
cloud hosted data/apps) to a fully externally hosted cloud.
Zipano Technologies Zipano Technologies believes that
the more control users have over their information, the more likely
they are to share it. That's the premise of Zipano's personal privacy
platform, which is shown off in the company's Loccacino app for Facebook (Facebook login required). The company was just featured in ReadWriteWeb. Watch for an interview here with CEO Ziv Baum on the topic.
WeoGeo WeoGeo is not new to me (or likely
to many readers) but since it's out in front in the geospatial use of
cloud, it's always worthwhile to see what's on the mind of CEO Paul
Bissett. He spoke in one of the cloud panels about latency and how it
is fine for slow things you don't do too often (like backing up your
hard drive), but is a real challenge when you need information right
away, as you might using a local application. Thus he concluded: "The
Internet-as-the-computer to replace your desktop is still some time
away, maybe as long as 3-5 years." You can read more of his thoughts,
shared at the conference in this blog post.
Still a new name here in the states, Automotive Navigation Data, or AND,
is sometimes thought of as the #3 data provider (after NAVTEQ and Tele
Atlas). What many don't know is that AND has a very different licensing
model, which CEO Maarten Oldenhof shared in the closing session of the
conference. There are no restrictions on data usage (there's no
difference if the data are view only or used for navigation), and there
are no time limit or hit/transaction restrictions. Instead, there's a
simple "price per device" on which the data are used. He closed the
conference this way, referring to his company's data products: "I hope
it will help you with your map... at a very different price than you're
used to." Keep an eye out for an audio interview with Oldenhof that Directions will publish soon.
Pitney Bowes Business Insights (PBBI) PBBI staffers with MapInfo
experience have been testing out the cloud. Thomas Citriniti, product
evangelist (thanks for running the 5K with me!), offered this stark
statement, which I paraphrase, on one cloud panel: The missing piece in
cloud computing is the absence of location intelligent capabilities in
OpenStreetMap (OSM) founder,
Steve Coast, opened the conference and touched on many, many
significant issues. The one that sticks with me: "We trust our
contributors." The comparison of OSM to Linux and Wikipedia may make
some nervous, depending on their feelings about that operating system
and encyclopedia. As a user of both of those things, his discussion
made me more confident in the vision and inevitable growth and usage of
Waze Waze, which I've written about before (1, 2),
is a traffic and data collection solution based on crowdsourcing.
Di-Ann Eisnor is the community cartographer (she really likes that
title) and she gave a great history of crowdsourcing, offering lots of
interesting examples (Zappos Shoe Map, Trendsmap, Wikicity). She made
one point, in particular, that stood out: the need for crowdsourced
apps to be transparent. She noted how important it is that those
creating crowdsource-based apps make it clear exactly what data are
being shared. The Waze business model, which has captured the interest
of many, involves creating, then selling, the crowdsourced basemap.
Scott Sedlick, Inrix's vice
president of marketing, followed Eisnor's discussion and confirmed his
company's commitment to crowdsourcing. What was very different was the
approach. As presented by Eisnor, Waze has a very low key, "participate
if you like," "we are not perfect," sort of feel. Sedlick's
presentation was far more corporate and button-down. I think we need
both types of companies to explore, use and grow crowdsourcing. Inrix
has its own free iPhone traffic app.