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Who's Who Profile: UrbanMapping

Posted on 10.24.2006
What's missing in the local search and mobile marketing space you ask? Expert opinions vary from too few dollars on the local business side to overly tight controls by data providers and carriers - those who control the information it takes to create a viable platform of significance to end-users. With so much potential however, there might just be a dramatic increase in growth from this arena ahead and preparing now will produce better results in the future.

For many however, local search (and more specifically the mapping technologies that drive them) is the darling of the Internet industry right now. Borrell Associates released a report projecting $7.7 billion in local online revenues for 2007 - a dramatic jump of 31.6 percent from 2006. With the proliferation of localized content, visualization tools and APIs, there is a unique opportunity to increase the value to users, advertisers and publishers.

Urban Mapping specializes in geodata acquisition and production. Of late, this tiny upstart has signed some high profile deals with YellowPages.com and SuperPages.com. Website Services asked Ian White, founder of UrbanMapping, about the future of local search within the mobile space and how his company is solving the problem.



WSM: What will we see in the next few years in terms of Web mapping?

IW: One year will be some behind the scene enhancements, primarily improvements to data offerings. We’ll also see a lot with open standards, mainly with GIS (Geographic Information Systems - a computer system capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information; that is, data identified according to location). RSS and metadata (what we know about the data, i.e. if there is a copyright) are also going to be big issues.

Developing of location aware devices in the context of what matters to the user will also become embedded into the fabric of what you are doing in a real time. We’ll also see greater accuracy and ability to transact in a more hyper-realistic way. For example, you want to park your car and you are fed data in real time about availability. Some of these things are possible now, but for user acceptance reasons they aren't going to happen for a while.

WSM: What are the solutions that Urban Mapping employs to improve mapping and local search?

Urban Mapping has pioneered an emerging class of geo-referenced data that maintains a focus on distinct geography. For instance, users seeking businesses in New York City may search for New York or Manhattan or Tribeca. Navigating by means of neighborhoods, points of interest and mass transit are three principal means of supporting way finding activities. The data set we develop is based on a methodology that incorporates research into spatial cognition. By marrying that data to geographic information systems (GIS) we are able to deliver aggregated neighborhood-level data. The result is a powerful tool for performing local search and retrieving location-based information.

Urbanmapping will be opening up its API soon to make our Web services available. Delivering data via our API we can provide real-time feeds while minimizing service costs thanks to an infrastructure that can support large scale Web applications. This means many more businesses will be able to derive value from our data. From there, those partners can develop applications that users want by providing intelligence around the missing data layer.

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