GeoWorld August 2012

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mobile maps were free. Google took one further step that soon defined map use by businesses: it allowed businesses (and consumers) to integrate Google Maps into their own Web sites. In June 2012, Google dramatically lowered its pricing for maps used by businesses. These factors also have been driving forces in bring- ing the GIS user interface, once reserved for CAD-savvy technicians, to the virtual-globe-spinning public. The energy with which consumers have embraced digital mapping has helped business geographics immensely. Today, map ubiquity and consumer demand continue to feed the assumption that maps and mapping are ever-present and suitable to play a role in any business application—and they will continue to do so as long as they're powerful and easy to use. What to Expect Tomorrow People are notoriously bad at predicting the future; such predictions typically are wildly hopeful ("flying cars") or too incremental ("tomorrow will look much like today, with a few minor changes"). The reality is more likely a combination of the two: tomorrow will look much like today, with a few major disruptive changes that are very difficult to see coming. In that spirit, here are four of the more incremental changes we should expect: 1. Convergence of mobile with wallet and keys: This one is a no-brainer and, frankly, late in coming. Cars already operate without keys (c'mon, houses!), and mobile payment already is being used, if haltingly (there are at least five different models in various states of development). 2. Human sensors: How much tracking will we toler- ate? The answer probably will depend on how much convenience or cost savings the tracking creates. We accept driving around with personal navigation devices and carrying smartphones that record our every move. Most likely among the first functionalities to be rolled out will be sensing and reporting on individual health and environmental dangers such as changes in body temperature and environmental conditions. 3. Indoor GPS: Also late in coming to North America, indoor navigation will be a boon to consumers and businesses by including floor plans of commercial and public spaces. We'll just have to remember to look up once in a while. 4. Mountains of data: With so many data sources becoming readily available (including GPS feeds), the problem is becoming less "where to find data" and more "how to combine and align data so they actually work together." It wasn't long after the 1967 introduction of DIME files by the Census Bureau that forward-looking people recognized an opportunity in adding value to Census data to help businesses: Urban Data Thematic maps connect a specific geography with a specific theme by shading or coloring the geography by its degree of correlation. This map simulates target customers (e.g., male college graduates age 24-35) by block group. Processing Inc. (now part of Harte-Hanks) was founded in 1968. Since that time, commercial firms and government agencies have slowly and carefully adopted geospatial practices, but only when they've delivered proven business gains. There also have been many innovations in mapping data and software along the way—some spurred by government and some by business—but none so dis- ruptive as the ubiquity, familiarity and demand for Web- and mobile-delivered digital maps by consumers. This occurred at roughly the same time as the software mega- vendors were acquiring GIS and business-intelligence companies to geospatially enable their stacks. Together, these forces have driven maps into myriad enterprise and consumer applications. Tomorrow will be fun. There won't be flying cars, but there will be self-driven cars: Google announced their program in 2010 and have since driven more than 200,000 miles. Let the texting-while-driving party begin! Todd Schmitt is vice president, Finance & Administration, BroadMap; e-mail: AUGUST 2O12 / WWW . GEOPLA CE . COM 17 U.S. CENSUS BUREAU/ESRI WORLD STREET MAP/MAPCONNECT ENTERPRISE/CHRIS MABEY

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