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By Joanna Ptolomey


Abstract:

Mapping and visualisation tools are not only gaining popularity as an enabler for many of the products we use and project development on a day to day basis as I considered in a previous LiveWire post. The mapping products themselves are generating some interesting news around competition, market penetration and privacy.


Item:

Mapping and visualisation tools are not only gaining popularity as an enabler for many of the products we use and project development on a day to day basis as I considered in a previous LiveWire post. The mapping products themselves are generating some interesting news around competition, market penetration and privacy.

A family friend recently dropped by on a social visit. We chatted about her new work mobile phone and its ability to track her movements throughout the day. She was surprised to learn that Google Maps is not just a way to get directions or orientate yourself when you are lost. It can also be used to track employees as announced recently.

It is called Google Maps Coordinate and lets businesses track employees  in the field by using the GPS devices in their phones. Google is allowing businesses to customize the software themselves and keep the system simple. Wired magazine suggests that this addition is part of a determined market approach by Google to deliver simple business software packages such as Gmail and Google Docs. There is a feeling this is definitely taking business away from the traditional biggies such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

Luckily for my friend she was on a day off when she dropped by my house with her new smartphone. It does raise questions about privacy and the possibility of mis-use.

Some of the work I have been involved has utilised OpenStreetMap (OSM) as an extra layer of content. OSM is an openly licensed crowdsourced product and is competing, and some say very well such as the Guardian, with Google Maps.

Nestoria, a large UK property website, have famously switched from Google Maps to OSM. Although it was well reported the company felt the need to blog too and the main reason lay around the good quality crowdsourced open data. I have a feeling it could be a cheaper option too.

As in every story there is the nasty twist. Google workers have been caught vandalising OSM accounts as reported by Wired. Industrial espionage? Well, who really knows the ins and outs?

However it is safe to say that mapping technologies are coming into their own now. The market is heating up with two main players emerging. I think it is also safe to say that we will hear, witness and replay some great product news and the odd bun fight over the next wee while. Oh and my smartphone will know exactly where I am located at every turn.

 


 

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Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

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