Johannesburg, South Africa: Social networks and geo-location services are changing the way consumers interact with portable navigation devices (PNDs). This is according to Joost Jetten, VP of sales for TomTom Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, as well as sub-Saharan Africa.
A month ago, TomTom signed a contract with Twitter to link the micro-blogging service to its PND devices. Jetten added that TomTom’s 2008 acquisition of Tele Atlas allowed it to start investing in technology that enables users to feed information back to TomTom.
Jetten explained that user-generated content has enabled the company to offer predictive analysis, such as forecasting traffic congestion to help make accurate travel time predictions. TomTom’s maps are updated every two minutes.
Jetten said that gone are the days when location-based services (LBS) simply provided one-way communication or PNDs simply provided navigation. He pointed out that PND companies are integrating social networks such as Twitter, Foursquare and additional software to enable online communities to share locations with friends and to report road accidents, hidden speed cameras and traffic jams.
However, the technology doesn’t end with consumers. Jetten informed that a partnership with Tracker has enabled TomTom to provide geo-location services to South African police and has speeded up the time taken by police vehicles to get to an accident or crime scene.
Meanwhile, Etienne Louw, MD of Map IT, owned by Tele Atlas and Avusa, said LBS will also open its doors for geo-location advertising, citing marketing company Qkey as an example. Qkey connects consumers with the brands that interest them. It allows users to view information about a brand on their cellphone when dialling a specific four-digit number that’s displayed on a billboard.