[FoRK] Geospatial

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Mon May 7 21:40:46 PDT 2007

Interesting coincidence, again.  I just started using Sprint's Family 
Locater Service http://sfl.sprint.com over the last 4 days.

I can locate my family's phones with accuracy as good as 10 ft. with a 
nice interface that shows uncertainty as a sized perimeter around the 
location point.  The standard interface is web-based.  Some phones have 
a mobile application, although my phone doesn't yet.  I've verified the 
location of my daughter a few times and just tonight she called to tell 
me that she had lost her 4 day old phone.  I located it, told her where 
to look, and she found it in the grass, at night, within 10 minutes.

The combination of GPS and radio triangulation seems to work really 
well.  Everyone knew they'd come out with a service, and we're all dying 
to hack our own applications, but it is reasonably cool anyway.


J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On May 4, 2007, at 8:17 PM, Jeff Bone wrote:
>> Geospatial == an interesting but very constrained subset of possible 
>> applications, and the one among many that (while probably very 
>> VC-sexy these days, given herd behavior and limited attention-span) 
>> is extremely limited, relative to the actual low-hanging fruit.
> I think you seriously underestimate the geospatial market space.  
> Forget the low-hanging fruit, there are large quantities of fruit 
> rotting on the ground.  The market is currently defined almost 
> entirely by the fact that the technology is seriously limited to 
> trivial application in multiple dimensions.  Even ignoring the 
> large-scale data markets, the market is also hindered by a lot of 
> competing and usually poor standards.  And then there is also a 
> bandwidth issue (it consumes far more than most people/companies 
> expect) that acts as a significant barrier to entry for companies, but 
> that has never been an issue I've had to worry about.  It is a 
> standard progression of technology, but in this case the technology is 
> trailing the applications and data rather than the other way around.
> Few people grasp just how much geospatial data is in the private and 
> public sector, how valuable it is, how many people realize how 
> valuable it is, and how most of it is effectively going unused because 
> it exceeds the capacity of existing technology to aggregate, analyze, 
> and search it.  Unleashing that data and those capabilities will have 
> a profound effect that we really cannot imagine at this point.  
> Geospatial is a core data type of civilization and commerce, we've 
> just never fully exploited it.
> The geospatial market is not a personal crusade for me, and I really 
> only became interested in the space when I discovered that it was a 
> shiny hard problem, but I have enough intimate familiarity with the 
> market that there is no way I could conceivably see the immediate 
> opportunity as anything but enormous.  Predicated, of course, on 
> solving the scaling issues.
> Cheers,
> J. Andrew Rogers
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