Category : Geodata

Google Apps Marketplace – Geo Apps and Geodata in the Cloud

Recently, Google has announced a new Data Mining tool that provides statistics for a changing world, as Google phrased it. The Google Public Data Explorer provides access to some huge piles of data and even enables non expert users to dive into a great data mining experience – something that is usually left to the pros from the statistics department. Then, a few days later, the Google Apps Marketplace was announced. The marketplace enables people to sell and buy apps. We know how this works from the iPhone App Store and the Android Market. And this got me thinking about the Google Data Marketplace. That, however, hasn’t been announced (just yet?). Since I am all Geo, I am most interested in the Geo Apps Marketplace – and the upcoming Geo Data Marketplace, of course 😉

There are enormous amounts of geodata rotting away on hard drives all over the world. So far businesses like GeoCommons, WeoGeo or Koordinates (affiliated) have started to organise some of these data, make them findable, accessible, and even shoppable through their cloud based infrastructure solutions. However, in think-big mode, there is nothing like an iTunes of geodata out there yet. Where do you go to shop for geo apps or geodata? – Amazon? iTunes? eBay? I don’t think so. Spatial Data Infrastructures are being built up worldwide. Remember that Google, as well, is already working hard on the Google Spatial Data Infrastructure. Today, finding geo apps or geodata when you actually need them, is still cumbersome. But is there actually something like a „market“ for geodata? Geodata appears to be free everywhere. Open Street Map provides free mapping data – Google, Microsoft & Co provide free maps. Even self-announced GIS market leader ESRI – or shall we better call it the new GeoDesign market leader – provides loads of free geodata. Geodata increasingly appears to become part of the enabling fundament for a broad range of business models. In order to support their advertising business models, Google, Microsoft & Co have disrupted the GIS market in many aspects. Free geodata and free geo apps from the big players have made many „geo-magic“ business model from „the time before“ superfluous. The latest disruption in the navigation market nicely shows how  „…the candy they give away to you…“ – as Paul nicely put it in an argument about how even ESRI is using geodata to support their software business, often is „geo-candy“ – geodata or geo apps that are available for free. Nonetheless, Apple’s App Store proved that there is a sound business model in selling Apps -So I am excited to see how the geo-corner of the Google’s new Apps Marketplace will do. And since geo apps are only fun when fuelled with geodata I would be surprised if there wasn’t a solid business case for a Google Data Marketplace selling geodata. At least for professional geo apps and geodata, there should be some beef left.

GGeodata – The Google Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI)

Recently, Google announced an extension to its API to pull Map Maker Tiles – something, that was already predicted more than a year ago. Then, shortly after, the news about recent developments related to Google Map Maker – the new directions feature for MapMaker. Also reading about how TomTom is using GPS traits from its customers to improve the quality of their map database, Google’s Street View data coverage and about the new Google Android My Tracks application, that can record tracks from outdoor enthusiasts and then maybe do something not-evil with them… and finally…Blink!

I just can’t help but wonder how long it will take, until Google will have built up its own Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) – the GGeodata – a Google SDI that will join the data pools already available from government mapping agencies, the commercial geodata providers like Tele Atlas or Navteq and the OpenStreetMap project. It looks like Google can already build its own base map for many parts of the world. I always wondered why Google does not use OpenStreetMap data to fill in the gaps in their maps, but licence issues are probably a good explanation why that is not happening.

I could imagine that Your Tracks will soon contribute to an offroad map database. In a similar way, all sorts of GPS tracking data, for instance generated via Latitude could be used to enhance the quantity and quality of the huge data pool that may be fed into the super-analysis machine.

I wonder if someone will figure out how to automatically create a routing enabled network from spatio-temporal tracking data – would be much more convinient than waiting for the crowd to do their volunteering job by digitising and defining attributes. What if you could use geospatial lifeline data (pdf!) and all kinds of other automatically generated tracking data and work out the segments and nodes by aggregating all the data and applying some magic analysis recipe to it. Speed of movement at certain times by a certain amount of people… many things could be inferred…

But how do you gather all the required data if you are not Google or a mobile network operator? Maybe you found OpenGeoSpatialLifelines – but that sounds too complicated for a project title – so how about we just call it OpenLifelines – or even better OpenTraces, and make it a place where people can anonymously share their spatio-temporal location data. Then we would only need the magic recipe – So anyone volunteering to have a go at the algorighm?