Looking to Woo Mobile Developers, Esri Releases New Tools

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ESRI_GlobeEighteen months after acquiring Portland-based startup Geoloqi, Esri is putting the startup’s technology to use. The forty-five year-old mapping firm has released a new geo-trigger service and a redesigned developer site this morning in an effort to build a wider developer tool kit that might serve as an alternative to the native location tools provided by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

The geo-trigger service, which has been in beta since late November, allows developer to more easily serve content to users based on their location, using a visual interface to simplify the process of building out the necessary logic (if user X goes to location Y, do Z). The service also reduces the drain that traditional positioning algorithms have on a user’s battery — a problem that remains one of the key technological barriers to more widespread adoption of location-based services on mobile devices.

Today, developers often rely on the core location frameworks — the out-of the box systems — provided by Android, Apple, and others’ mobile operating systems to build location-based services. However, as new industries look to take advantage of mobile software (and, implicitly, location services) there’s going to be more demand for tools that simplify the development process.

“There’s all of this data on the web, and there’s a lot of data within organizations, and a lot the time that content could be delivered to you as you move through the real-world,” says Amber Case, who heads up Esri’s R&D division. “All that data is waiting there; it just needs to be brought to life.”

Think of the explosion of WordPress and other website builders over the past decade. As the Internet transitioned from a tool for internet companies to a broader consumer destination, publishers, small businesses and a host of other non-technology companies needed a simpler way to participate. Mobile is quickly becoming a means to an end, not an end in itself.

For publishers in particular, there’s increasingly an economic incentive to build location into their mobile apps. Nexage, a mobile advertising network, found that hyperlocal inventory — impressions that include a user’s latitude and longitude — garner a 3-5x premium over run-of-the-network inventory. But in order to access a user’s locations for marketing purposes, publishers need to build a clear use case within the consumer product.

However, consumer services represent a small fraction of the potential market for Esri. The bulk of the firm’s work remains on the enterprise side, working with businesses to build workforce efficiency and other logistics applications.

Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.

Find out more about how data can be used in local context at Street Fight’s Local Data Summit, on February 25th in Denver. Join Esri’s Amber Case and learn from and network with some of the top local data experts in the country. Reserve your ticket today!