GPS and Police

July 26th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Christchurch couple used a GPS iPhone app to track burglars who had just fled from their home.

The software led the couple to two Gloucester St flats where the burglars were held up. They called police, but were told officers could not enter as they did not have a search warrant.

The thieves later made off and the stolen items have not yet been recovered.

Couldn’t the Police have had someone stay by the House, while a warrant was obtained?

Using Yeng’s iPhone the GPS showed Liu’s iPhone was moving from Matipo St towards Riccarton Rd.

Liu called the police and explained they were tracking the offenders.

Yeng got in his car and followed the vehicle to a Gloucester St property and waited.

When the police arrived at the couple’s Matipo St home Liu said she was told they could not inspect the Gloucester St property without a search warrant, which could take days to obtain.

It could, but it also could take an hour or so.

She felt search warrant legislation was “too strict” and offered protection to the “bad guys”.

Inspector Alan Weston said police currently needed a search warrant to enter a property.

However, a new Search and Surveillance Act, which was to come into effect shortly, would make searching a property “a lot more simple”, he said.

The act will enable an officer to enter a place or vehicle without warrant to search for and arrest a person if the constable has “reasonable grounds”.

Good to hear of the law change, but I still feel they could have acted pretty promptly under current law.

Funding roads

July 21st, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

CBS reports:

Bay Area drivers could one day be tracked using a GPS-like device in their cars and taxed per miles driven – a scenario which is part of a proposed long-range study aimed at finding ways to reduce traffic and pollution, while also raising revenues.

Members of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments are scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether or not to authorize a study of the proposal. Under the plan, drivers would have to install  trackers in their vehicle and officials would tax drivers for every mile they travel.

So long as you can deal with the privacy issue, I think this is the future. Those who use the roads should pay for them. Petrol tax is as close as we can currently get to making users pay, but being able to charge based on actual usage would be better. You could even have some roads cost more to use at various times.

Be the Kiwi voice of TomTom?

October 3rd, 2010 at 2:35 pm by David Farrar

I’ve got a TomTom GPS. Don’t use it too much in Wellington but great for trips out of town, and especially useful overseas. You can buy maps for most places on Earth.

You can choose what accent it speaks to you on. There is no New Zealand accent, so I have it set for an Irish accent – named Noelle for obvious reasons 🙂

Anyway if you want to be the Kiwi voice for TomTom, check out this site before 15 October. The winner gets a Suzuki Swift.

There are also daily prizes of a TomTom, and those who don’t enter can still go to the site, and listen to their favourite ones.

A family holiday

July 21st, 2010 at 11:00 pm by David Farrar

Have just flown out of Auckland for a family holiday with my olds. Most of the time overseas will be in Austria, where my father was born. I’ve never been there, so am really looking forward to seeing where he grew up, plus all the other great sights around Vienna.

We have a couple of days in Hong Kong as a stop over, and then a week in London catching up with friends. After that it is Vienna and Salzburg for a couple of weeks, and then back home via a stop over in Japan.

I’ve been using foursquare for a week or two. It’s a fun location based service for your mobile, which detects where you are, offers you specials on businesses nearby, and allows you to share your location with your friends.

I’ve only been allowing a couple of dozen people to receive location updates from me, as not even I want 1,000 people able to trace my every step in Wellington.

But while I am overseas, I figure it will be quite fun to have the location updates appear on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, so friends can see where I am. So I’m turning on the synchronisation during the time away. I live in an apartment block with 80 nosy neighbours (and my main item of value – the laptop – travels with me) so am comfortable with the security issues.

But will definitely be turning it off when I get home again.

As usual, blogging frequency and times may be affected. The guest posters may pop up a bit also.

Darth Vader voice not new

May 7th, 2010 at 9:01 am by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

Kiwi motorists looking to take a drive on the dark side can now journey alongside Darth Vader.

TomTom, which launched the Darth Vader turn-by-turn voice skin for all of its GPS car navigation devices yesterday, said the release had been timed to coincide with International Star Wars day.

This is not new. I’ve had a Darth Vader voice on my TomTom GPS for at least a couple of years. Also got Austin Powers for when I get sick of the normal Noelle voice.

Stupid differentiation

September 28th, 2009 at 5:12 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The Transport Ministry has clarified the terms of a new law that restricts the use of cellphones in cars, saying that from November it will be illegal to use a mobile phone as a satellite navigation aid while driving.

Now if that means illegal to look at it, if it is on the seat next to you, fair enough probably, but …

Under the new law, that would be illegal, Transport Ministry spokesman John Summers confirmed. “The Road User Amendment Rule 2009 means drivers will not be able to look at a navigation aid on a mobile phone when driving, even if it is mounted on the dashboard.

Now that is just plain daft. The Government is going to ban you using your phone as a navigation device – even if placed correctly in front of you on the dashboard!

The restriction does not apply to navigation systems that do not have a mobile phone function, he says.

How stupid is that? I mean how do you justify the differentiation on public policy grounds? You can have a near identical device mounted on the dashboard, giving you navigation advice, and it is illegal if the device also has mobile phone capability.

Properly functioning GPS systems make the roads safer. You don’t even have to look at them very often as they give oral directions also.

I can understand the rationale to discourage people using a cellphone to navigate if the phone is not mounted on the dashboard. But it really is bonkers to ban it, if it is mounted.

UPDATE: A reader points out it is even more stupid than I realise.

The situation in your blog post is even more ridiculous than you blogged.  Many satnav systems are now coming out with bluetooth capability that turns them into a handsfree device.  So it will be legal to watch your satnav system and use it as a handsfree device, but it will be illegal to use your iphone in handsfree while using it as a satnav device.
I think the Minister needs to knock some heads together in the bureaucracy.
UPDATE: And the Minister has done so. His office has informed me:

The Road User Amendment Rule that contains restrictions on cell phone use is designed to discourage motorists from talking on their hand held cell phones or texting while driving.  Voice calling is permitted, provided the phone is in a mounted hands-free device,

It is not the intent of the rule to make it illegal for motorists to use the satellite navigation or music functions of their cell phones, provided these are mounted in the vehicle and are manipulated infrequently.

It is also not intended to discriminate against one kind of satellite navigation device or another.  However, with all of these devices it is important to set them up while the vehicle is stationary as they are all potential distractions in a moving vehicle.

The Minister this afternoon met with officials and instructed them to amend the rule accordingly.

Excellent. Good to see a quick and decisive response to over-reaching by officials.

Spatial Data

August 27th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Simon Hendry writes:

This week, directory company Yellow (formerly known as Yellow Pages before that brand become too low-tech to be associated with) said its new iPhone application, which makes good use of that particular device’s GPS capabilities, had become the most downloaded local Apple software tool just four days afterrelease.

The application lets users perform functions such as “local search” – using GPS to find details of, and directions to, the nearest business of a specified type.

Done well, this is a cute trick, particularly if you’re a visitor from out of town, in desperate need of a curry, perhaps, but without the first clue about where to find the local Indian restaurant.

I just hope they bring out a blackberry application soon.

The Yellow iPhone app’s popularity is a good example of how businesses and consumers are both eager to make the most of location-based services using spatial information combined with mobile data transmission.

Again – mobile phones and GPS technology is the new big thing.

But a new report commissioned by Land Information NZ, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Economic Development says we’re missing out on the full economic benefits of our own Government’s treasure trove of spatial information.

According to the report – Spatial information in the New Zealand economy – innovative use of spatial information added at least $1.2 billion to the economy last year through productivity gains, but that figure could have been $500 million higher if technology developers had better access to the Government’s various repositories of spatial data. …

The new report calls for the Government to develop a “national spatial data infrastructure” and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson – himself a techie from way back – is at least making encouraging noises in agreement.

It’s now a matter, as Williamson puts it, of “knocking away the remaining barriers to more widespread adoption of spatial information”.

The minister seems prepared to do the knocking. Let’s just hope his Cabinet colleagues open the door.

Agree strongly.

Yellow Pages on iPhone

August 22nd, 2009 at 5:41 pm by David Farrar

Was interested to see this PR:

New Zealand’s leading business search directory is now available to the country’s estimated 20,000 iPhone owners with today’s launch of the Yellow iPhone app.

The Yellow iPhone app provides location awareness via the iPhone’s built in GPS, mapping and directions functionality courtesy of Google Maps and the ability to save businesses to your contacts and email search results to others. …

Features include:

  • Full ability to search Yellow’s entire directory
  • Local search via iPhone’s integrated GPS
  • Find local businesses on the integrated maps
  • Get driving or walking directions to any business via Google Maps
  • Email  business details to friends & contacts
  • Save your favourite searches for next time
  • Add your favourite businesses direct to your iPhones contacts

The local serach vis GPS is what especially interest me. I think location based services over your mobile is the next big thing. I can see you walking past your local bookshop, and they’ll be able to text you and say “Hey if you want to pop in we’ve got the third book in that series you have already pucrahsed Parts I and II of – and we’ll give it to you 15% off”.

I hope Yellow work on a similiar tool for the Blackberry.

Google’s Latitude

February 5th, 2009 at 9:15 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged many times over the last few years about how a future killer application will be one that combines GPS, mapping and friend finder on your phone.

As the Daily Telegraph reports, Google has launched such a service. It is called Google Latitude. It works for New Zealand, and you can download it onto your blackberry and other phones. Only problem is a download error code 500 at the moment.

There are huge privacy issues around such services. They key is to only let people see your location who you totally trust. But it can be an easy way of meeting up in town etc. I’ll blog more on this once I actually get it installed and working.

Speed Limiters for cars

December 31st, 2008 at 12:34 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports from Reuters:

Cars should be fitted with devices to regulate their speed to cut fatal accidents by a quarter, a UK government advisory body said.

The UK Commission for Integrated Transport and the Motorists’ Forum said the voluntary use of so-called intelligent speed adaption would cut 40,000 road deaths over a 60-year period.

The proposed system would automatically slow the engine and apply the brakes to keep a car within local speed limits, although the driver would be able to override the limiter.

It said the limiters would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6 per cent on roads where cars go at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.

The commission called on the UK’s Department of Transport to start building a database of road speed limit maps which would be needed to operate the system.

Are these people stupid? Every GPS vehicle device in the UK already has a database of speed limit maps. MY GPS has it for UK, France and NZ. So if they are ignorant of this fact, how much can we trust them on anything else?

Also note the 40,000 road deaths are over 60 years, so that is 667 a year out of a population of 60 million or around 1 in 100,000.

Personally I think the future will have GPS fitted in almost every car, and a cruise control option so that it can cruise at the maximum speed. The anti-collision technology is some way off, but we already have parts of it with the beeping as you reverse if you are about to hit something.


June 10th, 2008 at 11:01 am by David Farrar

Last week the Herald looked at the new Compass product from Vodafone – a location finding and route planning service.

Type your destination address into the BlackBerry and you’ll be guided to your destination – both visually on the handset’s screen and audibly by a rather robotic voice coming out of the phone’s speaker.

I think location based services are the future killer apps for mobile phones. About to download and try it.

UPDATE: Have it installed and it is great. Even better it is free until October. Google Maps for Blackberry is cool but the data charges are a killer. This is free for now, and even in the future only $10 a month or something.

GPS may be driver hazard

March 5th, 2008 at 2:25 pm by David Farrar

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the GPS devices may be a driver hazard. Sigh everything is a potential driver hazard – passengers, radio, drinking water etc etc. In the future almost all cars will have GPS so people need to get used to having them.

My GPS is a particular hazard though. I was telling a friend of Noelle McCarthy’s last week that I have it programmed to speak to me in an female Irish accent so it will sound like Noelle. One has to resist the temptation not to drive down the wrong street just so the GPS will tell you in a strong yet lilting voice to do a u-turn immediately 🙂