It’s not a market that will help users find friends or places to eat, but it seems to be one that keeps movin’ along. The government and enterprise market for location-based services seems to be steady, if not growing, as evidenced by nearly 9,000 attendees at the recent Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Topics included the 20th Anniversary of the government’s intelligent transportation systems program.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Standing out among the thousands of college professors, scientists and engineers were a core of companies who have made inroads into intelligent transportation systems and other government markets here at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, held January 22-26.
Such companies as TomTom have tried to harness the government market for the past few years with real-time traffic information. The traffic information companies contend that the government market will be big for policy makers, who need detailed support tools to make money-saving decisions for local traffic management programs.
At TRB, TomTom announced a partnership with Delcan Corp. to provide historical traffic data for the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP 2). The program is managed by the TRB.
“We’ve been using our real-time traffic information, and our historic products, to work with them on traffic management and planning,” said Nick Cohn, TomTom senior business development manager.
By using GPS-based measurements from the TomTom historical traffic database, Delcan and its partners will develop models for travel time reliability analysis and research as part of the program, the company said. TomTom says its traffic database, which uses traffic measurements, costs less money and is time-saving — compared to survey methods.
Last year at TRB, TomTom announced a partnership with PTV where the company was able to deliver TomTom traffic content, via TomTom Traffic Stats, to its customers in the transportation sector.
20th Anniversary of ITS Well Attended
An introspective session at TRB was the Intelligent Transportation Systems 20th Anniversary, which was attended by industry veterans who were around when the first U.S. Transportation Department directives calling for ITS were issued. Most of the panel members agreed that when ITS was being thrown around as something that may replace Cold War contracting dollars with new markets, no one really tried to predict how technology would shape autos and communication.
While panel members agreed that EZ-Pass was one of the big ITS accomplishments over the last 20 years, some acknowledged that GPS and the Internet and cell-phone development were never really focused on (as at least two weren’t even developed). They agreed that the automotive industry took over the market, not the government.
“Fortunes were made — and lost. Mostly lost,” said Mort Downey, former DOT deputy secretary. Downey said the big deal in getting ITS off the ground was President Clinton’s decision to turn off GPS’ selective availability.
Michael Noblitt of IBM’s Global Business Services remembers that the telematics market really was developed by aftermarket manufacturers. “It was an exciting time. Privacy was traded for convenience and service. Consumers now see [telematics] as valuable,” he said.
Rich Schuman of Inrix, who was the second employee of the entity now know as ITS America, presented a timeline of technology events and tied them to intelligent transportation initiatives. “It’s a chaotic world — don’t try to find it. Focus on business incentives and leave technology to the bigger market,” he said.
Industry old-timers remember that the ITS America and ITS World Congress meetings were the only places to get market information in the 1990s because of auto manufacturers and the two largest digital map makers at the time, Navteq and Tele Atlas/Etak, were the major players. Both meetings have seen a resurgence in the number of auto makers and traffic companies exhibiting to compete for their share of the government market.
ALK Doing Well in European App Stores
At TRB, LBS Insider caught up with Alain Kornhauser, ALK Technologies founder, who talked about his role in the company and what markets have been good for them in the past year. ALK has been in several publications as having the iPhone and Andriod “top app” for its CoPilot Live, which is doing well in Europe, Kornhauser said.
“We’ve done well in respect to app stores. We also participated in the recent Iowa Caucuses when we offered directions to candidates for all 94 of the state’s counties,” he said.
Kornhauser said that Barry Glick, former MapQuest executive who was hired last year as CEO, runs the company’s day-to-day operations. In December, ALK established a new group, Enterprise Solutions, which combined its PC MILER, CoPilot Truck and CoPilot Live Professional product lines plus supporting map data, software tools and professional services. The Enterprise Solutions Group is led by Michael Kornhauser, senior vice president and Alain’s son, who reports directly to Glick.
While competing against free navigation applications, publications are saying that CoPilot Live has a niche because it has a friendlier interface and better directions to gas stations, restaurants and other points of interest.
Industry pioneer Kornhauser, who was involved in autonomous vehicle testing, said that ITS was a success because of the private industry, without government impact or influence. “They didn’t stand in the way,” he said.
Kornhauser, a long-time Princeton University professor and head of its transportation program, said he likes being an entrepreneur. “I also like the [location] space,” he said.
In other LBS news:
- Join us for GPS World magazine’s LBS Market in 2012 webinar, “LBS 2012 — Show Me the Money,” on Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Speakers will include several industry executives. Register for free.
- Audiovox Electronics Corp launched its Car Connection and Care Connection products, both of which Audiovox considers LBS-capable, that will use Sprint’s Nationwide Network in the U.S.A. Car Connection is a new plug-in on-board diagnostic (OBDII) device that will allow consumers to monitor, manage and maintain not only their own but other family drivers’ habits. Care Connection is a wearable personal tracking system that features two-way voice communication to locate children, teen drivers and aging parents.
- Persistent Systems purchased Openwave’s Mobile Location-Based business, to offer what its says will be the first enterprise carrier-based LBS. The company says the big market opportunity is that businesses want asset tracking, geo sensing and couponing.