July 2006

I came across this article, which looks at some of the new patent applications recently published from google, a number of them relate to spatial searches and google local. The two that caught my eye are:

Transportation routing
Inventors: Henry Rowley, and Shumeet Baluja
US Patent Application 20060149461
Published July 6, 2006
Filed on December 31, 2004


A computer-implemented method of providing personalized route information involves gathering a plurality of past location indicators over time for a wireless client device, determining a future driving objective using the plurality of previously-gathered location indicators, obtaining real-time traffic data for an area proximate to the determined driving objective, and generating a suggested route for the driving objective using the near real-time traffic data.


Indexing documents according to geographical relevance
Inventors: Daniel Egnor
US Patent Application 20060149774
Published July 6, 2006
Filed on December 30, 2004


A local search engine efficiently indexes documents relevant to a geographical area by indexing, for each document, multiple location identifiers that collectively define an aggregate geographic region. When creating the index, the search engine may determine a set of geographical areas surrounding a geographical area relevant to a document and associate references to the set of geographical areas with the document index.

When I first read the routing patent abstract, it seemed like something that is being done already by many in-car sat nav systems that avoid areas of heavy traffic and dynamically re-route you, however on closer inspection of the full application, it seems that what google have in mind, is keeping track of peoples historical patterns of location, and using these as a basis for generating a route. This would in a sense be a learning algorithm, that would take account of your preferred routes at certain times of day, or any short-cuts that you have on the way home from work at specific times. It would learn you preferences based on day or time and traffic flow and then use these to provide routes. The only flaw i can see in this, is that in areas that you drive a lot and have collected preferences, you probably don’t need driving directions. The Patent doesn’t mention sharing this information, but i can see you might want to extend this functionality, so that if you are driving in an area that is new to you you could take advantage of other peoples shortcuts or time based preferences with routes generated to use that information even though it is someone else’s preferences, I can see that being a much more powerful solution, utilising a community of preferences for everyones benefit.

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I see that Rob Elkins gave a good link to the Data Interoperability Extension on his blog, which reminded me that i keep meaning to write something about this.


Data Interoperability Extension or DIE as we are not allowed to call it, is by far and away my favourite ArcGIS extension. I have used it extensively in the last two large projects I have worked on. Not only does it have great support for a wide range of data formats, but it can also go a lot further than just reading data natively. You get a full support for defining custom transformations, which allow you to convert data not just between formats, but use a whole bunch of “transformers” on the way. The workbench application gives you drag and drop support for these transformers, allowing you to do things like field manipulation, string transformations and geometry calculations. Once you have built these custom transformations, you can embed them in geoprocessing models so that they are really well integrated into ArcGIS. If I was only able to use a single ArcGIS extension the DIE would be the one. The only confusing thing I find about FME is the number of different license levels that you can have. If you get the DIE, then this is an extension that you buy from ESRI, however if you need additional formats or functionality, you can extend the extension by purchasing additional licenses from safe software. This page outlines some of the options you have with DIE and Fme extensions. Basically you have three options, You can use the standard Data Interoperability Extension, on top of which you can add the snappily named FME For ArcGIS Format pack for ArcGIS Data Interoperability, which builds on the ArcGIS Extension with additional format support. Finally you can go the whole hog and use the full grown FME for ESRI, which gives similar integration with ArcGIS, but also the standalone workbench application. When you combine this with the support for geoprocessing, especially in 9.2 with server and engine support, there is almost no type of data that you cannot support with ArcGIS.

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