TECH NOUS Dashboard Directions

Think back to all those times you ended up parked on some side street poring over map for directions. Or those heated ‘discussions’ with your spouse/partner over the quickest route to particular destination. We’ve all been totally lost at some stage of our motoring career, or at the very least wasted fuel driving around looking for landmarks or streets. For companies with sales reps on the road, such time wasting has direct impact on the bottom line.
The good news is that those frustrating days are about to end. Vehicle navigation systems, which until now have largely been restricted to the luxury car market, are tipped to quickly become ubiquitous. You can expect to see GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite services coming to portable device or motor vehicle near you in 2005.
GeoSmart, an Albany-based geospatial solution provider, is in the driver’s seat of major move into the new vehicle and after-market navigation systems market. The company has already released its mapping data for the portable and PDA-based Navman navigation system – and this month will be launching its mapping CD/DVD for the Siemens VDO Dayton in-dash integrated navigation system, which tucks neatly into vehicle’s dashboard, and consists of large colour screen (some models will hide the screen when not in use), navigation computer, CD ROM map disc, GPS satellite antenna, and remote control with docking station. The system also has multimedia capability, offering complete entertainment option for motorists.
However vehicle navigation system is not just about good hardware – the essence is the database it connects to. The VDO Dayton system links in with GeoSmart’s SmartMaps database to deliver more than 40,000 New Zealand-wide points of interest (POIs) for users. These POIs range from accommodation, ATMs, carparks and golf courses, to hospitals, libraries, and museums – anything you care to name – and especially restaurants and cafes!
Since August 2004 Vodafone Live has utilised GeoSmart’s SmartFIND service as its mapping service for mobile users, and this has proved to be very popular. SmartFIND Location Based Services mean you can key in “where’s the nearest……?” from any location and be directed to wherever you want to go. It’s especially useful for locating local community services.
SmartFIND technology is also useful in fleet management applications where efficient route planning and measuring is important for field and sales reps who don’t want to waste time getting from to B. Fleet management and car navigation technology has never been integrated in such way. As GeoSmart CEO Phil Allen points out, sales staff will no longer have to leaf through the Yellow Pages to come up with prospects – they can do all the searching by category in their vehicle, and then rely on their navigation system to lead them to the prospect’s door. Work efficiency in the field will be significantly boosted.
There can be no doubt that GPS-based technologies will have major impact on how we do business in the not-so-distant future. Allen also talks of “assisted GPS”, which is on the market in Europe and Japan and expected to come to these shores now that 3G mobile data networks are being established. Having assisted GPS mobile phones means that SmartFIND technology can roll out “Buddy Finder” feature, which enables your phone to alert you when business associate or friend is close by, allowing you to meet up. Smart phones can also be used to filter selected ‘push’ advertising, based on time, product and distance. For example, you may wish to be informed of footwear sales within close proximity at certain times of the day. GPS-based devices will also be used as tracking and tracing tools to keep watch on everything from children to computer equipment.
As for GPS vehicle navigation, you can guarantee there’s even more functionality waiting around the corner – functions such as Traffic Management Control, which can steer you away from any traffic snarls. Just think – you may never experience traffic jam again. Now that’s got to be the number-one dream of every Auckland motorist.
Bring it on I say.

Glenn Baker is regular contributor to
Management.
Email: [email protected]

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