Where 2.0 and “Sense of Place”

I’m flying back to the UK to present at the Google Developer Day in London, so my comments on this years Where 2.0 are rather brief. What stood out for me was the recognition of the importance of “sense of place” information, geospatial data that is not traditional cartography, but which is really useful and meaningful to people because it is not as abstract as mapping.


In StreetView we are attempting to represent the world from the perspective of someone in it, i.e. from a perspective of a viewer 2m high not 1500m in the air. High resolution terrestrial imagery is actually very useful, as John demonstrated in today’s presentation, fro example being able to read street signs is a source of attribute information not available else where. This type of imagery especially when navigable in such a simple way, makes exploring the virtual environment easy and really does provide a sense of what in the case above San Francisco is like to visit.
The power of imagery to provide this “sense of place” was also a major part of Quakr some fellow Brits who are developing a site to put geotagged images in their correct perspective location on an interactive map, so that in effect you walk through the photos..

Combine imagery with the environmental sound-scenes developed by inside 30proof for Wild Sanctuary and you are beginning to see what I think used to be called ‘hypermedia” starting to have an impact in communicating geospatial information.

Written and submitted from the British Airways Lounge, at SFO airport using the free broadband network

LBS and actionable content..

Like myself you may have been using the mobile version of Google Maps for the last year or so and it works very well, the application is well adapted to mobile devices – if you look carefully you will see that it uses a different rendering to the normal browser based Google Maps – mobile cartography needs to be different !!

Google Maps Mobile

This week a new version of maps was released in the UK which starts to really deliver on the potential of location based services, now like our American cousins we have up to date points of interest information available, so that if you try to search for a business you will actually find one now..

It’s not new or unique but what I think is really important here it that the content about locations is actionable, so if I search for a pub in London called “The Garrison” I am presented with a map, directions to the pub from where I might be, its address and telephone number which if I click on actually is dialled by the phone – remember the N95 and suchlike actually have telephone capability as well as GPS, WiFi, cameras, coffee machines etc. in them as well 🙂

Content that is actionable is key I believe to LBS finally taking off, a map on a screen is not enough, it’s still often easier to ask somebody for directions, but how likely is it that they will know a pub’s telephone number or its opening hours..

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

Google LatLong blog

latlong blog

So you may have been wondering why I have not really written a huge amount about Google so far here.. well unlike my previous employer Google is well versed in the business of blogging and the Geo team have been working on a team blog which is now online at Google LatLong – Enjoy !

Don’t worry, I will still keep writing here 🙂

BTW make use of the “What we are reading section” these are links to some of the most dynamic blogs on the internet.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

Mass-market standards

This week finds me in Sunny Zürich one of Googles Global Engineering hubs, learning how  the Google machine works and trying to catch up on a weeks worth of email..

Last week while I sheltered from the storms lashing New York, (so much for spring as the best time to visit !!) with the family, the OGC held a TC/PC meeting in Ottawa and is appears that considerable progress has been made in beginning to adopt the new “mass market” standards KML and GeoRSS.

This is really great news and will help I believe to bring geographic information to a wider community of users and will allow the creation of a  community of spatial data developers, who will be is the position to easily publish their own information.

With this new user community in mind I think it is vital that we communicate clearly what are the most appropriate technologies to use and when, for example I can easily imagine some confusion in the minds of potential users as to the choice of GeoRSS , KML or simple GML as the format of choice to publish their simple geospatial information.

The relative benefits of these formats is clear in my mind (at least i think it is) I’d be interested in your views dear reader ?

Written and submitted from the Hilton Zurich Airport Hotel, using its wifi 802.11 network.

Where 2.0 comes to Europe – Geoware2007

Life is really busy at the moment, but I am finally in a position to put down a few thoughts about this weeks Geoware in Arhus.

I was very impressed by the organisation and quality of speakers, credit is due to Anders, Peter and the rest of the team at the innovation lab for putting the event together.

Nicholas Nova who gave a very interesting talk on mobile gaming gives a good review of the event on his blog. This is the closet I have seen to the “must visit” Where 2.0 in Europe.

To me one of the most interesting debates was around business models for these new mobile services, and the fact that for the most part quite traditional business models based on advertising or commission payments underlie these new services.

Nokia for example who demonstrated the N95 smartphone ( Forget the iPhone, this is the phone for geo-geeks) which ships with a free mapping and navigation package for Europe, with POI data sponsored by Restaurants, Hotels, Car hire companies etc. Nokia receive a commission from any transaction, such as booking a hotel which comes from their mobile service – a business model as old as publishing !
I wonder if we will see a similar event in the UK , and if so who would organise it? I know from trying to run the innovation process at the OS how difficult a task it is to get UK companies to think along these lines… and of course the other obvious challenges to GI based startups regarding availability of data are well known.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.