The Android Meets Realtors in Montana

By Joe Francica

Red line represents the property boundary containing the University of Montana's Football Stadium retrieved from an ArcGIS Server map service containing the State of Montana's Cadastral geodatabase. (Click for larger view.)

Smartphones are the new computers and more geospatial apps will be coming soon. GCS Research developed an application using an Android-enabled smartphone to create a location-based application for realtors, title companies, and state and local governments. The Montana Parcel App allows smartphone users to access real estate information remotely. Using the built-in GPS, a thin client and links to a backend ESRI ArcSDE database, users can pinpoint their current location in the state and download parcel information. Editor in Chief Joe Francica interviewed Dr. Alex Philp, president and CEO of GCS Holdings, Inc.

Directions Magazine (DM): Why was the Android operating system chosen for this app and what advantages did it present for the developer or the user?

Alex Philp (AP):
We chose Android due to the explosive nature of its release on the Motorola phone and our developers found it very easy to develop applications for it. GCS started experimentation with Droid-enabled phones for a series of mobile solutions, so we went with this OS first. We have plans, depending upon customer need, to support the next-generation Windows Mobile and iPhone OS, as well, in the near future.

DM: The application seems to lend itself to parcel identification, particularly for those with an immediate, onsite need. Will it be integrated into an MLS service for realtors, or is it intended to be a strictly stand alone application?

We have existing customers that are concerned with and interested in specific workflows that would benefit their business functions, such as real estate companies, title companies, insurance companies and such. The Parcel Droid App was designed to demonstrate capability, cost-effectiveness, ease-of-deployment, and the viral nature of the application space. Since the Droid application leverages existing Web services and is part of our mobile SOA strategy, it can be easily integrated into existing and future customer workflows to help them be more effective in the fields, but also leverage their private and public sector geospatial Web services and geodatabases. For our Montana state government customers, we wanted to demonstrate the ability to go mobile for the benefit of the public they serve with their federated state government geospatial services.
Property information retrieved from the State of Montana's CAMA database. In addition, more detailed property information is displayed in a results panel. This information is available state-wide. (Click for larger view.)

DM: What is the size of the downloaded app?


DM: Was the development funded by the state of Montana or will it be supported by advertising?

This is private R&D activity by GCS Research to demonstrate capability and we currently have no plans to support it through advertising, although we are open to discussions for creative ways to finance the public sector resources currently being leveraged into the application, such as the state of Montana cadastral geodatabase and the CAMA - Web services. We also are in some protected discussions with some of our existing private sector clients who are open to the advertising model. We think ubiquitous mobile geospatial apps represent a paradigm shift in potential creative, public-private collaborations for cost-recovering to help achieve ROI for public investment in state data

Published Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Written by Joe Francica

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