Augmented Reality Check

While I have always embraced the idea of augmented reality, my love-hate relationship with technology always comes back to bite me.  The following article nails it!

I have looked into two different AR solutions with serious intent to see if this would help the call-before-you-dig line locators that I support, but have withheld a decision hoping that the technology will catch up to the accuracy of the survey-grade database of underground pipe assets I maintain. Hopefully sooner than later!


Airbnb’s Pricing Algorithm Has a Secret Ingredient…Geography

This article is another example of how geography can enhance business.

Early versions of our pricing algorithms plotted an expanding circle around a listing, considering similar properties at varying radii from the listing location. This seemed to work well for a while, but we eventually discovered a crucial flaw.

We therefore got a cartographer to map the boundaries of every neighborhood in our top cities all over the world. This information created extremely accurate and relevant geospatial definitions we could use to accurately cluster listings around major geographical and structural features like rivers, highways, and transportation connections.

We improved our algorithms over time until they were able to consider thousands of different factors and understand geographic location on a very detailed level.

I’d be curious to know the workflow process of their cartographer, how manual or automated was that process, and what criteria were used in defining those boundaries.  Whatever the answer, it appears the secret sauce worked for Airbnb.

Caution: Cartophiliac’s Disease is highly contagious!

I’m thinking of changing my screen name to ‘Maphead’ as my cartophilia is constantly making my head spin.  Fortunately, Ken Jennings has already claimed that title.

Here’s a fun article reminding me of the power geography has in our lives:

GIS As A Marketing Tool

By mapping customer locations, businesses can better decide where and how to focus marketing campaigns.  In this link, Karen Blevins of the geography program at San Diego Mesa College states:

The ability to visualize multiple inputs, such as income, zoning, demographics and industry within a single map environment supports the marketing process.

I think we typically apply this process to brick and mortar style businesses.  Different analysis techniques are used for strictly virtual businesses, but it is every bit as valuable with the right data backing the analysis.  I admire those who are able to put these techniques into practice with the real world.  I have been following a company called InfoGrow to see the many ways they apply location insight and have been impressed by their vision.  They list services including:

  • Proximity Analysis
  • Sales Territory Optimization
  • Lead Management & Market Analysis
  • Trade Area Analysis
  • Site Selection Services

The possibilities to “grow” only grow with location data added to the mix.

Maps Are A Type Of Language

Just more evidence of the powerful framework location provides:

Maps and visualisations are a type of language that improves communication between different teams, departments, disciplines, professional fields, organisations and the public.

Of course it helps to have full transaction support and reporting tools!  I have experienced this language barrier in meetings when it felt like stakeholders were all referring to completely different projects until somebody points to a map in frustration and says “here,” followed by the resounding “Ahh, now I see!” moment that could only be felt, not heard.

Avoiding Acquiescence of Financial Disaster

I like this article because it discusses geographic analysis in the business world of mergers and acquisitions.  By tracking assets and potential customers through a competitive landscape of service offers and counteroffers, it helps “identify, quantify, and work through the inevitably unforeseen issues that mergers can create.”

Geographic information system (GIS) technology is a powerful tool for evaluating a company’s merger and acquisition activities, allowing both market potential and competitive impact to be analyzed spatially.

I’m sure that much time and money goes into generating the type of data that supports this type of decision making, but I would also guess that it pays off if it helps avoid a financial disaster.

Geomarketing Gains More Ground

Same story…but now some people call it by a different name: Location Analytics.  Here is an article demonstrating how a multi-national retailer is using “geomarketing” to make better decisions.  Here is my take away:

The combined solution joins key business intelligence (BI) data with spatial location, resulting in improved store performance driven by better marketing decisions.

GIS desktop tools have been used for years for this purpose.  These days it is about mashing data with web tools to provide an informative, real-time experience.  In Y2K I had a phone interview with the Buxton Company in Fort Worth, TX.  I was enthralled with their work and often wonder how different my career could have turned out had I considered it further.  Regardless, spatial location continues to be the hidden puzzle piece that brings the big picture into focus.

Maps help make informed decisions?

Whether maps promote transparency is debatable since the map is a window into the data, and the data is all too often assumed to be accurate since somebody went through the trouble of turning the data into a map.  But!!  I have experienced first-hand how maps help make informed decisions in various scenarios.  Here is a post by  of Direct Relief talking about how valuable maps are for relief aid and emergency response.

Different aspects of the maps and data collection process were compelling to each individual, but underlying all the interactions was the support and understanding for the need for shared data and resources to better respond in disaster situations.

So GIS becomes a necessary platform for sharing information, or as Jack Dangermond says, “GIS as a technology creates understanding.”

I also noticed how the maps are combined with the data collection process to be useful.  Data collection is the Achilles heel of GIS.  Accurate and reliable data are hard to come by and also critical to disaster situations.  A friend of mine at the local chapter of the Red Cross described some of the challenges they face in response situations with organizing volunteers to collect data, typically the door-to-door type of data to clear geographic areas.  Luckily I am intimately familiar with creating solutions for data collection and highly recommend Geospago as an affordable software as a solution for mobile gis/gps data collection.

Also, if you have time to spare, check out this article about sketchy charity accounting practices when it comes to relief aid.  Any data that helps follow the money is good business.

Activity-based intelligence through big-data analytics

Here is an article talking about the key to full immersion in geospatial data.  Leave it to the federal government to have all the best stuff…for our protection, of course.

Map of the World is the platform for all geo-intelligence, multisource content and knowledge, with corresponding analysis and reporting stored there as well.

It’s a smorgasbord of layers upon layers of what is happening using geographic data, “social media and countless other datasets to highlight any object of interest, which can include human targets, at a highly detailed level to better show the true story.”

NGA’s Map of the World and its current geospatial capabilities will “sift through petabytes of geospatial data in real time.”

Everything is about making better decisions!  We are so close I can taste it…when BI companies get serious about harnessing the empowering combination of geography and real-time data for business.  Now if I could just get somebody like Domo to hire me, we’d be dominating the world in like 3 seconds flat!