Where2.0 - Augmented & Immersive Realities

Where2.0 is amazing in watching the trends over time. The ideas that are postulated and alluded to years ago are now emerging in products, tools, and companies.


One of the biggest of these emergent trends from the first day of Where2.0 were Augmented & Immersive Realities. Companies like EveryScapeEveryScape (homepage) doing immersive video and annotation - the next generation of QTVR. EarthMine (homepage) is capturing a huge amount of data to create high-resolution 3D models of the world that can then be utilized for annotation and analysis of the real world.

Ancillary to fully digitizing reality, aerial imaging is becoming as ubiquitous as GPS for capturing road information. Pict'Earth (homepage) are building the autonomous systems and tools for capturing and using imagery in systems like OpenAerialMap. What is the next generation of open-data collection?


Another common theme that has emerged was proper visual design of these new mapping technologies. Adrian's opening keynote has clearly shown what straight-forward steps can be taken to use open-source tools and simple concepts to provide compelling, visually attractive interfaces.

Chris Spurgeon even asked the cartographers in the room to raise their hands, outing about a half-dozen. As map interfacespenetrate into most of our tools and websites, I hope there is continued growth in future dialog of technologists and cartographers.


While this has been present at previous conferences, Where2008 definitely included a large current of discussion around monetization strategies and opportunities. Greg Sterling's panel was fairly narrow in breadth of members, consisting primarily of the sole geospatial advertiser(s) and mobile companies. Steve Coast of CloudMade and Ian White of Urban Mapping are both data provider companies, yet debate focused on "mobile coupons". I would have liked to have a broader view of the monetization landscape - how in fact has Urban Mapping moved from data provider to ad-supporter. Skyhook Wireless is dabbling in a number of spaces: geolocation technology, social network, advertisements, and who knows what else. Even CloudMade had three separate businesses before getting funding. The common trend of that panel's composition was that they are involved in a lot of markets.

On the second day Dev Khare of Venrock gave a much broader survey of the monetization landscape, looking at devices, users, opportunities and strategies.

Why Where?

One of my favorite components of Where2.0 are the closing series of talks that approach answering the question "Why are we building this technology?" It's important, as innovators, engineers, developers, and businesses to understand the implications of our work. We cannot claim that we are not free from responsibility for the resultant uses of our applications.

Lisa Parks, a media studies expert, makes us realize the impact remote imagery has on the potential conceptual understanding and involvement of citizens. Even by the fact that someone of her expertise is looking at a complex technology as satellite sensing from the viewpoint of "media" should demonstrate the deep influence tools like Google Earth and WorldWind are having on users around the world.

Erik Hersman (blog) and InSTEDD both do incredible work to flex tools to serve the emergent and demanding needs of people in disasters and crises. Simple, yet compelling repurposing of mobile phones as observer data collectors and Twitter for in-the-field tracking and response are just a few examples of the good ancillary applications of geospatial technology. We should all be cognizant of how our tools may be modified ad-hoc to assist these unanticipated needs.

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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.