Mobile GIS

Mobile GIS is becoming more interesting and easy to get into. Yesterday Navicore released their navigation software for the Nokia 770.

Maemo Mapper is a free and open-source mapping application, designed from the ground-up for the Nokia 770. However, a large caveat is that it uses GoogleMaps in what is probably a violation of the terms of service (realtime navigation and downloading), not to mention annoying in that you have to "pre-drive" your route to cache the appropriate GoogleMap tiles.

GPSDrive now supports OpenStreetMap for downloading free maps.

I've gotten slightly involved in the new GeoClue project - an effort to provide an easy "location service" backend for devices. The location on the device may be served up by GPS, WiFi, GeoIP, Mobile Cell/GSM, or even just the user clicking on a map or entering an address. Then, an application can subscribe to the location service and get updated with the current location of the user/device and use it as appropriate.

At FOSS4G I attended a BOF (Birds of a Feather - people interested in the same stuff) on Mobile GIS. The software and technology all exist, it just needs some coordinated efforts to define the use cases, interfaces, and approaches. However, one solution won't fit everyone. There are users who want to do "real GIS" in the field and there are users who want to do "neogeography" to say, find the nearest coffee shop on their mobile.

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.