Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tracking things with maps

Maps and Geographic Information Systems are well suited for tracking things. Today just a couple of examples to illustrate usefulness of maps and spatially enabled technologies to monitor “assets” and follow “what’s happening”.

The first example is a tool from ZenTracker utilising Google Latitude service, which tracks location of service subscriber's smartphine in real time, and Google Map, to show that location in geographic context. ZenTracker then checks the smartphone location against user-defined rules and sends a notification if the location matches a specific rule. It is a great tool to monitor, for example, movements of kids. If they leaves a defined safe location a notification will be sent to alert a parent about the event. A year or so ago an announcement about a similar paid service, made a prime time news in Australia. ZenTracker basic plan is free and you can track up to 6 smartphones. For small companies, it is a very cost effective way to monitor location of trucks or delivery vans or sales force, provided you can equip them with appropriate smartphones.

The second example falls into “event tracking” category and is just a basic visualisation approach to put "things into perspective". Gone Google map shows locations of businesses using Google Apps and it was created as a part of a campaign to persuade businesses to switch to Google Apps. For Google, it helps to track uptake of its applications in different geographic regions (and to make a point that many are using them!). For general public, it offers the opportunity to track who is adopting Google Apps in the local community (and to promote own business if they are users of those apps!). The information presented in a tabular format would not have the same impact.

First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

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