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June 29, 2006

O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference: The Location Revolution Has Only Just Begun

Sebastopol, CA--At the second annual O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference, over 700 location-aware hackers, entrepreneurs, "neogeographers," and members of the mapping establishment spent two days immersed in the innovations springing up at the intersection of the Internet and location. Where 2.0, which wrapped up earlier this month in San Jose, California, explored hard technical issues such as GIS/GPS in emergency situations, Virtual Earth and Windows Live Local, NASA World Wind, the latest version of Google Earth, mapping and mobility, geospatial data, business value, and more. The scope of this year's event extended beyond the technical and into the cultural as well--conference participants explored the ramifications of location information on social networking, community activism, gaming, and privacy.

For businesses, location information is creating a new world of tools and services, as well as adding a layer of consumer expectations for these products. For developers, network connected data services bring applications to the mainstream that were previously only within the realm of GIS professionals. "The growth of this industry is astounding, and the full-to-capacity crowd and wide media coverage the conference received reflects that," noted conference co-chairs Brady Forrest and Nathan Torkington. "This revolution is only starting."

The format for Where 2.0 provided maximum exposure to the ideas, projects, and people shaping the future of mapping and location services. Rapid-fire plenary presentations were laced with ample time for the informal "hallway track." Just a few of the Where 2.0 agenda highlights included:

  • Gary Lang used MapGuide as an example to emphasize Autodesk's has commitment to an open source strategy as the key to competitive advantage in the mapping space
  • Tim O'Reilly moderated a discussion on the future of the data industry with panelists Steve Coast of OpenStreetMap, Kim Fennell of deCarta (formerly Telcontar), David Nevin of Tele Atlas, and Rob Shanks of GlobeXplorer
  • Gregory Trefry of Gamelab and Kevin Slavin of area/code made back-to-back presentations on location and geospatial technology as core components of gameplay
  • ESRI's Jack Dangermond described how GIS on the Web is evolving beyond mapping to enable the publishing and sharing of powerful GIS services that solve complex business problems
  • Schuyler Erle demoed Gutenkarte, a site that uses Metacartaís geo text mining engine to link classic works from Project Gutenberg to accompanying maps
  • Patrick Hogan of NASA presented on the open source World Wind project, an interactive 3D geospatial visualization platform
  • Chris Spurgeon of American Public Media enumerated the best geo hacks of the last 2000 years
  • Claus Dahl of Imity discussed why the perspective should be on "here 2.0" rather than "where 2.0," pointing out the difference between an abstract location in space and the unique locus of space and time that makes places matter
  • Attorney Lauren Gelman of Stanford dug into the issue of privacy, explaining aspects of current U.S. law that protect users' location and online privacy, and areas where the law fails and technology must step in
  • Donald Cooke, a member of the Census Bureau team that developed the Dual Independent Map Encoding (DIME) system in 1967 and now with Tele Atlas, discussed how GPS technology helped emergency responders in the aftermath of the hurricanes
  • The exhibit hall featured intriguing products from Where 2.0 sponsors, including Microsoft, Google, Autodesk, ESRI, deCarta (formerly Telcontar), GlobeXplorer, MapQuest, MetaCarta, Loki, Skyline, Talent, and Yahoo!
  • Geo Developers Day, hosted by Google the day before Where 2.0 began, provided attendees with a peek into the heart of Google's location efforts. Google also made several announcements during the Geo Developers Day, including the release of the newest version of Google Earth
  • The Where Fair, a science fair style event, showcased some of the most promising grassroots location projects coming out of garages, labs, and universities
  • Special lunchtime gatherings and after hours parties organized and sponsored by Microsoft, Google, and Autodesk, Yahoo!, and OSGeo fostered informal interaction
  • Early arrivers played Pixie Hunt, a mobile, connected, geotagged scavenger hunt co-sponsored by Microsoft and Cingular Wireless
  • A number of important announcements were made at this year's Where 2.0:

  • The dates for the next Where 2.0 Conference were released: June 19-20, 2007, returning to the Fairmont San Jose.
  • Skyhook Wireless announced the launch of the Skyhook Developerís Network, which provided location-based service and application developers with free access to the Skyhook Wi-Fi Positioning System, APIs, documentation, and a support infrastructure. As part of the launch, Skyhook also announced "Wi-Fi Cage Match," a product development contest that will reward the developer of the most innovative and dynamic Wi-Fi based location application.
  • Skyline Software Systems, Inc. announced the SkylineGlobe.com 3D web mapping service that combines massive amounts of high-resolution satellite imagery, aerial photography, and map data with Skylineís leading 3D visualization technology.
  • Talent Information Systems announced the launch of Cruiser, a new platform for delivering internet services that uses geo-spatial data, maps, and location-aware information.
  • deCarta (formerly Telcontar) and Inrix announced the integration and immediate availability of Inrix's traffic information into deCarta's Drill Down Server (DDS) and Traffic Manager. The companies also announced that Inrix is using deCarta's DDS to align location information from millions of commercial vehicle probes collected each day to the relevant road segments, as part of the Inrix Dust Network.
  • Platial announced a new live offering, Today Nearby. The new service combines RSS feeds of news, photos, videos, events, and places with Google Maps and Google Earth. Content will be mapped from Reuters, Flickr, Eventful, YouTube, and other usersí maps. Updates to chosen locations are available for subscription.
  • SRC announced the release of www.FreeDemographics.com/API, a dash-up of data services readily available to add to developer mash-ups. President and CEO Dean Stoecker discussed the new API roll out of SRC's JSON based web service at Where 2.0.
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