Forcelink and Map Genie in the Irish Times
ORDNANCE SURVEY Ireland (OSI) is in discussions about providing its digital maps for iPhone applications, following the launch of its online mapping service MapGenie this week.
Unlike competing, free mapping services from other providers such as Google and Microsoft, there will be a cost for third-party companies to use the MapGenie service on their websites. However, OSI business and marketing manager Hugh Mangan said the agency would be willing to discuss flexible pricing options with early-stage software developers.
“We have a licence partner programme in place that would allow a start-up company to come to OSI,” he said. “It’s there to facilitate that type of an organisation.”
An iPhone application would not be OSI’s first foray into mobile applications, as it previously developed mapping software for Symbian phones, Mr Mangan added.
MapGenie provides access to map data at a variety of scales from geodatabases maintained by OSI and Land and Property Services Northern Ireland (LPS). All of the data in MapGenie can be hosted from OSI’s own systems and provided to other websites directly, saving organisations the cost and overhead of storing and managing that data in-house.
OSI says that because map data is presented according to customer requirements, it is more cost-effective and is easier to use, since there is no need for time-consuming translations to different data formats.
MapGenie is not intended to compete directly with free online services like Google Maps or Microsoft Bing. As it is built on open industry standards, it can be used to supplement existing web software tools built with either of those services.
One such customer is Forcelink, a private start-up that uses MapGenie to offer a web-based service for managing mobile workers. Its application was originally developed using Google’s application programming interface.
MapGenie is a business-to-business service and is aimed at organisations requiring access to maps of the entire country rather than one specific location. Mr Mangan said OSI intended to differentiate its service on quality. “We believe our data is more accurate, more detailed and it’s maintained consistently across the country. Others might be patchy or city-specific.”
As a State agency, OSI is obliged to earn revenue and Mr Mangan said he expected MapGenie to contribute to this. “We see the customers for MapGenie coming in a roughly 50-50 split from our existing customer base and new customers.”
Customers that already have licences to use OSI’s vector and raster mapping data will be able to use MapGenie at no extra charge. The Road Safety Authority’s new website, due for launch soon, will use MapGenie to show car collision information through national and local maps.
© 2010 The Irish Times