2006 April 27

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Editor's Introduction

This week I am traveling back to the United States, so this issue contains only one report: on uLocate, a Boston-based company at the center of much of the current buzz on location-based services (LBS). Plus, my usual round-up of news from press releases. Next week I will have one more report from Italy, about a client of Bentley Italy.


uLocate Bets On GPS-Enabled Cell Phones

A few years ago, the widespread adoption of cell phones led the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to mandate that they report their location to 911 dispatchers. This mandate has led the most of the major wireless carriers to adopt GPS as the preferred method for locating cell phones. GPS-enabled cell phones — and other GPS-enabled mobile devices, such as PDAs and laptop computers — have, in turn, finally begun to make location-based services (LBS) a reality. Currently, 14 GPS-enabled handsets are available in the United States. While waiting for such handsets to become ubiquitous, a few companies are building LBS applications — using devices that rely on GPS, cell phone networks, WiFi routers, or other techniques to determine their precise or approximate location or relying simply on users' self-reported location. One such company is uLocate and its flagship product is MapQuest Find Me. I met recently in Boston with the company's director of marketing and audience development, Jon Feingold, and discussed the company's origins, products, and plans.

uLocate was founded by three Boston-area entrepreneurs. What excited them about this business besides the FCC's E911 mandate, Feingold told me, was the rapid growth in the number of teenagers with cell phones: every teenager wants a cell phone and every parent of teenage kids wants to be able to keep track of them. To this end, they built a location platform on Nextel, which was the only GPS-enabled cell phone at the time. "They went out very early and created leadership in consumer LBS," says Feingold. Their story was picked up by many of the major national news outlets — such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Good Morning America — and that momentum caught MapQuest's attention. The three then raised money from Kodiak Venture Partners and GrandBanks and developed a technology platform that is now used to power MapQuest FindMe as well as several other LBS applications in the market.

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News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


The Royal Netherlands Army Geographic Agency has contracted with East View Cartographic (EVC) to produce new 1:50,000-scale topographic maps of Uruzgan province in Afghanistan. … Read More …

Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA) went live with the 9.1.2 version of Miner & Miner, a Telvent company's ArcFM Solution on April 6th, just two days after the release became available to the public. … Read More …

The Utilities Department of Daytona Beach, Florida has selected DeLorme's XMap software as a field-based GIS solution. … Read More …

Northeastern Rural Electric Membership Corporation (NREMC), an electric utility cooperative in northeastern Indiana, has implemented an advanced field GIS. … Read More …

European Space Imaging (EUSI), a partner of GeoEye, the world's largest satellite remote-sensing imaging company, has received an additional contract from the European Commission to supply OrbView-3 high-resolution map-accurate imagery. … Read More …


Intermap Technologies Corp. has expanded its online offerings to include countrywide and statewide SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) elevation datasets, contours, and Global Mapper geospatial software. … Read More …

MWH Soft, a provider of environmental and water resources applications software, has released H2OMAP SWMM Designer. … Read More …

CSI's Hemisphere GPS division, a designer and manufacturer of GPS products, has introduced its new Crescent A100 "smart antenna" that combines a GPS antenna with a GPS receiver featuring Hemisphere's new high-performance Crescent OEM module. … Read More …

AccuGlobe Mobile Command Center, a new application designed by Digital Data Technologies, Inc. (DDTI), allows public safety officials to view the location of their fleet online. … Read More …

Merrick & Company, a LIDAR, digital orthoimaging, photogrammetry and GIS mapping company, has released version 4.0 of the Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing (MARS) software product suite. … Read More …


Exhibitor and sponsorship information for the 2006 GIS in the Rockies Conference is now available online. … Read More …


GeoEye, the largest satellite remote-sensing imaging company in the world, has appointed Mr. Paolo E. Colombi as vice president of International Sales, effective immediately. … Read More …

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