Categories
Thoughts

Personalized Storm Tracking by Google

If there is one thing that gets the GeoMarketers excited, it is natural disasters.  Every year at this time we see hurricane trackers, 3D storm viewers and other “exciting” products to help protect us from the wrath of mother nature.  This year Google is promoting their Personalized Storm Tracker.

The safety recommendations you receive will be tailored to reflect the current status of the event and your context. For example, if you search for a specific storm when it’s still several days away, you may see a map of the developing weather event and a recommendation to start preparing an emergency kit. If the storm is only hours away from your location, you might receive a reminder to start charging your phone in case power goes out. And if you search when the storm is nearby, you’ll get the most urgent information, like how to avoid injury from fast-moving water or flying debris.

I feel like these things are more trouble than they are worth.  Last Sunday I was at Sky Harbor Airport when a dust storm alert went off on all the iPhones in the baggage claim area.  The whole place sounded loud as the alerts went off warning us that wind and dust were headed our way.  The result of this great warning, people making jokes.  Sure an alert was issued, sure it probably is a safety thing that we all get these alerts on our phones.  But the delivery isn’t personalized, it’s a broadcast message and then 10 minutes of people joking about the alerts.

At least in the USA, storms don’t sneak up on anyone.  These products are great press but of little value.

Categories
Thoughts

Google Map Maker is Officially Back in the USA

Well good news for those who want to help a down on its luck company like Google update their maps.

Google Map Maker, the tool which allows anyone around the world to contribute information to Google’s worldwide map, has re-opened in 45 countries after going live again in 6 countries two weeks ago. The product was temporarily shut down in May after it was discovered that some nefarious edits to the map, like geographic polygons shaped to depict an Android peeing on what is ostensibly an Apple logo, were being approved.

If you want to help Google, just go to Google Map Maker and start editing.  Just know your edits will get locked up and used to make a ton of money.  Here in the USA you can’t create polygons yet but I suppose that will be back soon.

Categories
Thoughts

The Story Behind Google Buying Waze

Waze cofounder tells us how his company’s $1 billion sale to Google really went down

The sale was a milestone for Israel’s young but huge startup community: The first Israeli consumer-app company to be bought for over $1 billion. In an instant, the whole “Startup Nation” decided to quit aiming for fast exits and build billion-dollar companies instead.

When Google bought Waze we were all amazed they paid $1B.  Not so much in that we didn’t think Waze was going to sell for $1B1 but that Google needed them.  In the end it was simple for Waze:

What made Google pretty attractive for us that No. 1, the company stayed in Israel. No. 2, we remained with our mission, to help drivers avoid traffic jams.

Well and that $1B was pretty attractive too.  I’m honestly not sure what is going to happen to Waze moving forward.  I still use it daily on my commute.  Waze is partnering with cities to improve traffic results and I know millions of others rely on it for better traffic results than Google Maps or Apple Maps.  But that’s the kicker right?  Questions that come to mind to me are:

  • What’s the incentive to innovate beyond improving traffic results?
  • What’s the status of the maps behind the application, are they being updated?
  • Does Google plan to shut Waze down and “integrate” traffic into Google Maps?
  • Is Waze just another example of supporting a proprietary map only to see it be pulled away from the community?

Google bought Waze over 2 years ago.  We haven’t seen anything new from Waze beyond these “partnering” programs2.  I’ll continue to use Waze for my commuting because it is such a time save but the end game of Waze is probably not benefiting me.

  1. Facebook was going to pull the trigger 

  2. Which I’m not even sure are being pursued anymore 

Categories
Thoughts

Google Map Maker Returns

You may recall that Google took down Map Maker blaming it on algorithms.

Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected maps results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for.

Well Google has apparently figured out a plan to allow people to start editing the Google map data.

Map Maker will be reopened for editing in early August, and we’re looking for users to now have more influence over the outcome of edits in their specific countries. This means that edits on Map Maker will be increasingly made open for moderation by the community. While some edits will still require moderation by Google operators, our loyal users will recognize that this is a departure from how we have operated in the past where majority of your edits were reviewed by Google operators. This has been a request you’ve made for a very long time, and this change should, hopefully, come as good news.

Community editing, who knew? Google will be “selecting” mappers around the world to be “Regional Leads” on Map Maker. I’m not sure why anyone would want this title but I guess we’ll see soon enough what it entails. Edits have to be moderated before they are published to the map so the quick updates that happened before (and of course happen with OSM) won’t work for Google. I think though considering how things went last time, any change is good for Google.

Categories
Thoughts

Glenn Letham Restates His Opinions about Google vs. ESRI

Link – More on Google vs ESRI Pricing

FYI, for the record, I should have stated earlier (regarding my post about price comparison of ESRI vs Google Earth – see below) that I was simply relaying some material from the Keyhole BBS that was sent to me from a colleague.

Glenn clarifies his position about Google vs ESRI. Glenn’s posting style lends itself to confusion in regards to what is his thoughts vs what he is “reporting”. I always put the link to a referenced article first in my posts and use > tags to make sure that what I’m quoting is separated from my own thoughts.

Categories
Thoughts

Is Google Overextending Itself?

Link – Has Google Peaked? – via Jeremy Bartley

For a company that depends so much on a single type of revenue, Google has stretched itself awfully thin. In the last two years, the company has released a dizzying array of products: Gmail, the Google Toolbar, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Blog search, and an instant messaging/Internet phone service called Google Talk. There’s also the Google Print Library Project (a plan to scan and make searchable the contents of entire libraries), a video search engine that’s in beta testing, and a recent bid to provide free Wi-Fi to all of San Francisco. Things are so frantic at corporate headquarters, a Google PR rep recently told me, that he didn’t have time to answer questions; he did ask if I knew of anyone who wanted a PR job. As Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan puts it, the fact that Google is getting into everything means that they run the risk of not doing some things well. If Google had invested more in blog search over the last few years, for example, it could have controlled the industry rather than playing catchup.

I think we are beginning to see signs that Google is starting to sag under its own weight. If anyone has given Google’s new RSS Reader a spin can tell that it should have never seen the light of day. In the rush to be all things to everyone, they are starting miss the little things that people notice. I have been a big supporter of using Google Earth as an GIS viewer, but given the data shift issues, I’m starting to rethink that position. Of course some of this is backlash against Google, much like we’ve seen aimed at Microsoft and Apple, but if one is to rely on these products one needs to hold Google accountable. The words “beta” and “free” don’t absolve them from mistakes and poor product decisions.

Categories
Thoughts

If Google has a platform, it is an advertising platform, not a developer platform

Link – Google Is an Advertising Company

If Google has a platform, it’s an advertising platform, not a developer platform. I’m not even saying Google should have a developer platform, I’m just saying they don’t. Any software that uses Google as a back-end for web search could be modified to use Yahoo or MSN by changing a few lines of code. Google Desktop might be popular, but it’s nowhere near as cool as Yahoo Widgets (a.k.a. Konfabulator) in terms of acting as a developer platform.

A good assessment of what Google is. For all those thinking Google Earth is the next GIS platform, think again. Google only views it as a way to push ads on to your desktop.

Categories
Thoughts

Fantom Planet Wonders When Google Will Be Invited to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names

Link – Board of Geographic Names Invites are Like Gmail Invites

I assume that invites are limited because of the Board’s inherently governmental function. So why in this new era of international spats over boundaries and place names in Google Earth has anyone from GE (Google Earth) or the BGN (Board of Geographic Names) thought to coordinate? If the two do not, would Google Earth become the de facto source for international boundaries and place names and usurp any official governmental geonames policy?

This better get figured out soon as I’d hate to think two countries might go to war over a boundary that Google Earth uses. As Fantom says, “[Scoffing laugh] Google running borders by anyone. Ha! That’s a good one.”. Exactly, but these days people are beginning to use Google Earth as a reference. I doubt this is what Google envisioned with Earth and I can only assume it will continue to be a headache for them for years to come.

Categories
Thoughts

Google Awarded Geocoding Patent

Link – Google Awarded Geocoding Patent

Since patents are all the rage these days I thought I would toss out the following: Google was awarded a patent today. The patent is for technology that allows a geocode (latitude, longitude) to be generated for a postal addresses. Unlike patent applications (which are what usually get people talking) this is intellectual property that has been officially awarded to Google. The patent application was filed for in September 2003.

I’m not sure how that is patentable, but I’m no patent lawyer. Could this be the start of “GIS Patent Wars”?

Categories
Thoughts

Google Awarded Geocoding Patent

Link – Google Awarded Geocoding Patent

Since patents are all the rage these days I thought I would toss out the following: Google was awarded a patent today. The patent is for technology that allows a geocode (latitude, longitude) to be generated for a postal addresses. Unlike patent applications (which are what usually get people talking) this is intellectual property that has been officially awarded to Google. The patent application was filed for in September 2003.

I’m not sure how that is patentable, but I’m no patent lawyer. Could this be the start of “GIS Patent Wars”?