December 31, 2009

Summary of Google Maps & Earth event

5th December was a long-awaited Saturday - a great GTUG event was to happen with 5 talks and 7 demos! Also in the last 2 weeks we had seen some amazing developments of this Maps API by Google for Singapore- Google- LTA collabration for traffic information and street view launch.

The event was attended by 76 people. Speakers included Andrew McGlinchey ( product manager for SEA Asia, Google maps & Earth), Mohit Sindhwani (Systems Architect, Quantum Inventions), Jeremy Lee (streetsine.com), Jon Petersen (Buuuk), Lee Changjin (ShowNearby), Ritesh Kalra (student) and Lim Chee Aun (developer). Yes, we had a wide variety of speakers from Andrew explaining to us more about the API and about the recent launches to startup companies showcasing demo's of how useful the API has been to their success.


Traffic launch of this API is simply a map of Singapore which shows traffic information and based on which one will get route information to destinations.This is based on LTA providing Google with schedule times of the buses, MRT etc.

The streetview launch has been made possible thanks to the public posting pictures of Singapore on the web which is used by Google to generate the streetview. No issue about privacy, as in case we appear in the pictures, our faces will be blurred - so no free publicity stint! :-) Now there is a cool Google car with synchronized cameras and GPS which goes around taking pictures, so in case you come across it- you know that Google's on a lookout!

Then we had Mohit from Quantum Information talk to us about their technology - 1st traffic aware routing website in Singapore- which shows 4 routes to a destination based on time, cost etc. They have launched customized applications for different genre of people- government, consumers etc. Consumers can use the API if they have to go grocery shopping, dropping their kid to the school etc. A typical scenario is in dispatching of emergency vehicles like an ambulance: with location intelligence, traffic data is brought to dynamic routers, hence rather than just naively dispatching a nearby vehicle the one needing the least in traveling time can be used instead. QI has a very detailed model based on which the decisions are generated- they use real time traffic information, historical information, oil prices, events like F1 etc.

Next we had Jeremy Lee from StreetSine talk about how Google maps & Earth is being used for property development in Singapore. The static map API is used for this and it shows property prices ( red for going up), nearby grocery stores, MRT, buses etc. So if a real estate agent pitches to the client- he just needs to show this map for the presentation.

After some light refreshments, in session 2 Jon Peterson from buuuk.com showcased his technology on augmented reality which can be used with Android/ I-phone to locate nearby restraunts and bars. One just has to point the iphone and the location of all restraunts & bars in that direction will simply pop-up on the screen. If you turn camera in other direction you will get similar information. It was launched in Nov 2008 and has 80 000 users in 73000 locations (in Australia, SE Asia) Also, buuuk is buuuk- as Jon wanted something to sound like "book" a table - related to food. but for web domain- book, boook, booook was not available and hence buuuk! The user location is transferred to provide location on phone device and reverse geocode (geokit which is written in ruby) then assigns 3 city codes for the location. However, for some strange reason if you are in a lake/ near a lake, Google doesn't return the name of the place but returns the post code!

Incidentally, Wikimapia, Google earth, Amex the credit card company helped them with information on locations.

Last talk was given by Lee Changjin from Shownearby.com which uses maps to showcase any information on location you are looking for.

After shownearby.com's presentation we had 2 demos from Ritesh from NUS and Lim Chee Aun.

To conclude, the above topic and people's interest in it shows that how time is of the essence. To save minutes people around the world are developing complex technology. As they say time is money .. and here money is time.