Quality data drive spells business for e-Spatial

Wellington-based location intelligence services firm e-Spatial says there is growing demand for the technology, as companies seek better use of their information.

The company builds geospatial components of broader solutions offered by partners such as Datacom, EDS, Fronde, Gen-i and Catalyst IT. It uses database technology from Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, among others, and works with Eagle Technology, which supplies ESRI’s Mapit and other geospatial products locally.

“We’re a fairly niche part of a solution so we tend to be the tail trying to wag the dog,” says partner relationship manager Melissa West. “To try and get coverage in the market we work closely with partners and try to get their sales force to be knowledgeable about what we do and see the business case around us being involved.”

Businesses increasingly have such a case, says West, as they seek to extract more value from existing data rather than buying new information.

“People want better efficiency from the data they have. We’re seeing real growth because people don’t want to buy new data, but use what they’ve got as best they can. People expect to see geographical information now.”

CIO Matti Seikkula says the partners it collaborates with don’t want to be involved in the complexity of the geospatial aspects of solutions, so e-Spatial builds these on their behalf.

The company presented at Microsoft’s Tech Ed conference on several recently completed projects, including work for Te Puni Kokiri, New Zealand Post (in conjunction with Datacom) and Express Couriers.

The courier firm has silos of information, due to being a combined entity of four logistics units and two joint venture partners, and the silos didn’t necessarily inter-relate, says Seikkula. “They had built some interfaces, but there was no central repository. We built the central system using New Zealand Post data, but also introduced location intelligence at the same time,” he says.

The project was based on SQL Server 2008 with spatial features integrated, and was developed in .Net. “It was a full-on Microsoft solution,” Seikkula says. ESRI’s ArcGIS server was also used, and the solution went live in February and is undergoing continuous enhancements.

Te Puni Kokiri, meanwhile, had a 10-year-old system in place to manage Maori land information, but wanted “to get it into the latest technology”, he says.

e-Spatial used mapping functionality and Microsoft’s Bing engine interface to allow searches for land information and land owners, which can number in the many hundreds.

“This is a public website and everyone can view the data,” says Seikkula. “The whole idea is to make it as simple to use as possible in the front-end, but in the back-end the SQL database searches across about 200 fields of information across the tables.

West adds that this type of publically-available central government information is a growing opportunity for e-Spatial. Seikkula says there are other examples of this information, such as census data and Land Information New Zealand data. The company has 15 staff.

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