March 3, 2014

GeoNext conference and Wearable Technologies

Posted by josediacono @ 3:07 pm under Uncategorized

This one day conference was well worth attending

Maurits v/d Vlugt kicked off, showed us a UAV developed in the Netherlands that weights 20g (yes not a  typo). They will be everywhere, continually collecting data.

Nic Lowe from Go Get was the first keynote. They started with 5 cars in 2003 and now have 1500 in Sydney and are also in other state capitals. They sponsored the conference and supplied their business data for the hackfest. This was an excellent idea.

Kurt Iveson of Sydey Uni spoke about “The politics of real time transport data” a story spanning 14 years in Sydney. In1998 when the first GPS unit was installed on a bus and the Sydney Morning Herald wrote “soon we will know when our next bus is coming”. 14 years later we now have that for all buses on our smartphones. Its been a long journey.

Along the way there were 5 political issues to solve

  1. quality of location data, getting GPS into private buses, replacing creaky infrastructure, canyons in city mean apps don’t work so well in Circulary Quay
  2. data ownership and access. The data is not yet fully open – only 6 licensed developers have access
  3. monetisation of location data. Developers carry full cost and risk. Government has to be willing to endorse the apps and promote or there is no awareness. In Holland an award winning transport app still only has 10,000 users because Dutch govt would not endorse it over others. Spectrum of “openness”, totally open in Portland resulted in 55 real time apps on the transport website. How do you decide which is best?  Too much choice. Sydney Transport ran a hothouse (hackfest) and then selected 6 which they endorsed because they could be comfortable with them after QA
  4. location of the “location data” what about those who don’t have smartphones or the many who don’t know how to download an app? Keen on big screens on bus shelters and in public places. Even smartphone owners like those. In UK 10,000 bus stops have real time displays. Kurt showed a pic of a futuristic bus stop design with displays. Interesting point  when surveyed, commuters waiting at a stop with a display perceived their wait to be shorter than those who didn’t have a display. So they were happier.
  5. disciplinary  – buses are a workplace. There have been complaints from bus drivers of being told to “hurry up” by central control when they are stuck in traffic.  Platform staff on Sydney trains have been given smartphones so they can access the same info travellers do (and then ask them about).

Panel discussion on wearable technology

 Dr Elliot Duff CSIRO

Talked about  SLAM Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping. They have this gizmo called Zebedee which you carry around a building (eg a museum in Hungary) waving it around. It creates a 3D map.  Then you track things constantly inside it.  “You worry when they disappear” used for tracking robots in factories.

 Peter Kock and Rob Manson

just say "take a photo" or even blink, and it does!

just say “take a photo” or even blink, and it does!

Augmented Reality – amazing technology Google glasses. You can look at something and say “take a photo” and it photographs what you are looking at. Can also video stream. Only available by invitation and $1500 a pair.  Rob Manson is from buildAR. Contact if you every have a need for augmented reality. Could be used by a worker in a construction site – he can see not just the physical hole in the ground but the building that will be built.

Could use it to give instructions for assembling IKEA furniture.

 Chris Rizos Uni of NSW  Indoor Positioning

Case Study of Australian technology called Locata. Has its own network (with antenna) which can be integrated with GNSS. Technology lost me but Chris thought it had great potential if it could get commercial backing. Canberra company. 2D accuracy to cm level. UNSW have done tests in a hangar and impressed but does not know how it scales up to larger neighbourhood. Has been used on US military bases.

Contact them.

Simon Hope – Geoplex The Geekification of GIS

Bringing futuristic mainstream IT into spatial

Very keen on Open Source without which the following would not be possible. Lots of buzzwords and products I hadn’t heard but sounds very exciting.


Elasticsearch supports structured and unstructured search. Combine a text search with geolocate. Ideal for people who don’t really know what they are looking for (with a  classic spatial search you have to be very explicit)


What has changed, by whom, when? Traditional extract and post or Version control very expensive and domain of Smallworld and big GIS companies. GIThub represents the democratisation of change management

Online maps

Cost, ease, power. CartoDB. Simon showed the spread of the US postal service on a map 100 years in 10 seconds

What next?

Browser based raster processing e.g raster tiles. Showed how you could dynamically shad a terrain model in various ways just in the browser. Formerly a very heavy computing task.

Go Get Hackfest

 Go Get had released subsets of their business data (anonymised)

Trip data, bookings, petrol purchases and consumption, pods (where several share cars are parked). This was put in fusion tables. Nokia (now “Here”) supplied their APIs which do things like shortest route and geofencing. (seems to be what we used to call polygon processing).

zooming and panning around the Sydney Equestrian centre site

checking out the Sydney Equestrian centre site on the HP touch screen monitor, superb resolution

Developers invited to develop apps – they retained the IP.

Ian schrivener did a Dashboard with state data, financials, website analytics, bookings – which would display on a big screen in their office.

Jeffrey Candillero analysed petrol purchases to find they could save 1.5% on their fuel bill over the average price by directing drivers to cheaper fuel when they need to refill. Interesting use of external data (average petrol prices). Jeffrey did a winning app in the mashup Australia called geo2gov which I wrote about. It was nice to meet him.

Another app enabled cars returned early to be booked out again (and gave incentives to people to return them early)

I think these sponsored hack fests with a theme are a step up from the general ones (though the latter have there place for government) .

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