Tag Archives: Google Maps for Work

Chariot connects New Zealand drivers and passengers in new ride-sharing app, using Google Maps

Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Dr. Thomas Kiefer, founder of Chariot, a recently launched ride-sharing company in New Zealand. Chariot sees itself as the Airbnb of transportation, “renting out” empty seats in cars to reduce driving costs and ease traffic congestion.

Here in New Zealand, our big cities have the honor of turning up on the lists of “world’s worst traffic jams” year after year. We Kiwis love to drive, but 80 percent of the seats in our cars are empty. We thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could fill those empty seats with people who need rides, and affordably match drivers and passengers? Chariot, our new carpooling and ride-sharing app, is the result.

Google Maps helps us match drivers with riders for all kinds of trips from a single app — long drives between cities, regular commutes and short hops around town. Riders pay only what’s needed to cover a driver’s costs, like gas and wear and tear. We spent months perfecting our waypoint-matching algorithm, which makes it much easier for people to find journeys that meet their travel needs. When we needed a map to help drivers and riders see the options available, Google Maps was our first choice.
When Chariot app users search for rides — using their start and end points, preferred pick-up times and fare — they’ll see a list of potential ride partners. Contribution is calculated upfront based on distance (via Google Maps APIs) and applicable rate of the respective fare zone. Clicking on that list shows a map for each person’s trip. With long rides, things get interesting: Since Google Maps lets us show overlapping ride requests along a journey, a driver can pick up one person at location A, find another person at location B, then drop off the first person, pick up yet another person, and so on. Drivers can make the best use of the empty seats in their cars, while riders get more choices for potential rides.
With the expert help of our integration partner, OniGroup, we’re using the Google Maps Geocoding API to create longitude and latitude points from locations given to us by drivers and riders. The Directions API calculates and displays a preferred route for the driver, and then converts that route to a map polyline, which shows all possible pick-up points for drivers and riders. The polylines work with the matching algorithm to deliver rides that match the driver’s route. We’re also using the Places API to autocomplete addresses as users start typing.

For a startup company like Chariot, partners we can count on are essential. Google and OniGroup helped our small IT team make sure all the APIs work together properly. We know the data we pull from Google Maps is accurate, and our investors like to see that we’re using technology from a trusted brand. When people see how our apps and maps make ridesharing a snap, we hope they’ll join us in our plan to “Drive Change” on the road, as we say here at Chariot. Maybe soon, we’ll “Drive Change” on roads around the world.

Belgian groceries supplier louis delhaize keeps things fresh with Google Apps for Work

Editor's note: Today we hear from Jean-Marc van Cutsem, CEO at louis delhaize Delfood, a groceries supplier in Belgium with an annual turnover of €160 million. louis delhaize neighbourhood stores have been a fixture of Belgian life for generations, and all of the food they sell – from fresh fruit to baked goods – comes from the Delfood warehouses. Read how this 140-year-old family firm is using Google Apps for Work to create a faster, more efficient business.

It’s exactly 140 years since Louis Delhaize, the fourth son of a Belgian winemaker, followed his three brothers into the groceries sector. The pioneering companies they set up would go on to dominate Belgian chain-store retail, so that generations have grown up knowing they’ll receive friendly, fast service on everyday items at their local louis delhaize store.

For the Delfood team that supplies the food, honoring that trust means staying one step ahead of rising expectations. So when our 2007 email solution was due for an upgrade, we took the opportunity to build a more efficient business.

With help from Fourcast, we began introducing Google Apps for Work in January 2015. After our early adopters and IT department had migrated, Fourcast and HR gathered crucial feedback using Google Forms to ensure that staff were content with the process. By April, the whole company was online, and the new tools were already making a difference.

From warehouse to shop display, we’re delivering food faster with Google Apps for Work. If items from our 9,000 dry and 3,000 fresh food lines arrive damaged at our two warehouses, staff use Hangouts on a Chromebook to provide visual proof to headquarters and inform our suppliers. When food heads out to the stores, we calculate optimal routes for 40 trucks with Google Maps. Once it arrives at stores from our warehouses, our inventory managers and their teams photograph anything in less than perfect condition and upload the image to Google+ for immediate action at headquarters.

In store, floor managers display food according to promotions and advice posted by our experts on Google+. This close communication between our store teams on-site and our experts located across the country helps us arrange our products in the most sensible way for our customers – ensuring, for example, that when strawberries are in season, they’re the first thing customers see.

Google Apps is helping us improve the working lives of staff throughout the company:

  • The marketing department moves along the promotion decision process much quicker through the real-time collaboration functionalities of Sheets.
  • Rather than keep time sheets on paper, store staff enter hours directly into Sheets, so that compiling hours can be done in two minutes, instead of a the full day every week it used to take.
  • All staff, wherever they are, can use Gmail. With its powerful search function, 30GB storage space per user, and seamless integration with Calendar, it’s everything we could ask for.
  • Departments use Forms to request leave and sales teams use it to report issues in stores.
  • Chromebooks at our warehouses and owned stores ensure that information travels fluidly around the company instead of only one-way from headquarters.
  • We use our Google logins to access other Google for Work products, such as Chrome for Work to manage digital signage in stores, and Google Cloud Platform to build internal applications.
  • Docs and Sheets with their collaborative features help staff at our separate sites feel like part of a larger team.
  • Our teams receive continued support and advice so that they can find new ways to implement Google Apps with tutorials in-person and on Hangouts from Fourcast.

With Google Apps for Work, we know we always have the latest and best tools at our disposal. Automatic updates to the software mean we can count on Google to cover new needs in an ever-evolving business environment. Being open to innovation has helped us remain a market leader for more than a century, and we plan to honor that legacy well into the future.

Madison + Fifth builds interactive mall experiences for kiosks and mobile using Google Maps APIs

Editor's note: Today we hear from Chris Shirer, President and Chief Strategist of the digital brand management agency Madison + Fifth. Read how Madison + Fifth and Google Maps for Work Partner Woolpert used Google Maps APIs to build an interactive kiosk and mobile apps for the 60-acre Liberty Center mixed-use shopping center.

When the Liberty Center retail center outside of Cincinnati approached us to provide accessible, intuitive wayfinding for visitors, we saw the opportunity to create something unique — not just a standard kiosk and printed directory. The center includes shopping, restaurants, a hotel, offices and luxury housing, so we wanted to make sure visitors could get around quickly, especially during busy times like this past holiday shopping season. We decided to build a solution that would work on touchscreen kiosks and mobile devices to detect visitors’ locations and give them interactive walking directions in real time.

We chose Google Maps and Google Maps APIs to do it because Google offers a familiar interface for our customers, lets us layer custom information on top of maps and provides a platform that will allow us to add new features, like delivering relevant, location-based ads. We worked closely with Google Maps for Work Partner Woolpert to build the solution. Woolpert not only helped us with licensing information, but also did the programming based on our design and requirements.

Because we wanted the directory to work with both touchscreen kiosks and iOS and Android devices, we built a Web app using the Google Maps JavaScript API. The app scales automatically up to the large size of the kiosk and down to smartphones’ small screen sizes. With a Web app, we don’t have to build and maintain apps on multiple devices, and visitors with smartphones don’t have to download anything to use the service.
We started building the app before the Liberty Center was finished and opened to the public, which meant that Google didn’t yet have mapping information for the center’s streets and stores. We solved this by building a layer with the required information on top of the map. In addition, we had no routing information, so we built an algorithm to provide directions using open source Google Optimization Tools.

Liberty Center opened its doors on October 22, 2015, and thanks to Google Maps, we’re now delivering an engaging, interactive experience for visitors. People who walk up to the kiosks or use the Web app on their smartphones get customized walking directions based on their current location, and can zoom in and out around the property to explore shops and other destinations. Liberty Center shoppers can spend less time getting from place to place and more time in stores and enjoying time together in restaurants.

Update to the Google Maps APIs Premium Plan

For the past ten years, Google Maps APIs have helped over 2 million apps and websites bring the very best of Google Maps to their customers — a familiar map interface combined with global, comprehensive and up-to-date data and imagery.

Today, we’re starting to roll out changes to the Google Maps APIs Premium Plan that give customers access to Maps API Credits, a single usage quota applicable across our suite of services. Maps API Credits make it easier to use multiple Google Maps APIs, allowing customers to bring the best of Google Maps to everything they build without having to change their plan.

In addition to Maps API Credits, customers of the new Premium Plan will continue to have access to the following:
  • High volume usage  flexible plans for high volume usage
  • Technical support and SLAs  24 hour technical support and service level agreement (SLA)
  • Additional implementations  including asset tracking, external, internal and OEM implementations that are not covered by the Google Maps APIs Standard Plan.
One Google customer, Doctor on Demand, has been using Maps APIs Credits through their Premium Plan through our early testing program."By upgrading to the Premium Plan with the new Maps API Credits, we have maximum flexibility to continue to innovate and add functionality without requiring us to rework our contract and paperwork. We can focus on continuing to build our platform and business to further innovate and improve our patient experience," said Adam Jackson, Co-Founder and CEO of Doctor on Demand.

To learn more about the changes, check out our documentation and FAQs

AppyParking directs drivers to free parking spots using Google Maps APIs

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Dan Hubert, CEO and co-founder of AppyParking. Read how AppyParking is using Google Maps APIs to help more than 100,000 drivers find real-time available parking spots in congested London areas and show general parking information across 10 nationwide cities.

Parking in London is notoriously challenging. I’ve had to circle the block dozens of times before finding a spot. One night before a show at the Royal Albert Hall is particularly memorable – there was a yellow line on the curb that spanned hundreds of yards in front of the venue, but it wasn’t clear if I could park there. After parking, I found a sign two streets down, saying parking was permitted, but only during the specific window I was there.

This was one of many experiences that inspired me to create AppyParking, a mobile app that uses Google Maps APIs to help drivers across the United Kingdom understand parking regulations and find open spaces. AppyParking serves as a comprehensive database for parking information, detailing what colored curbs mean and the specific rules depending on the time of day. The app color codes parking spots to show drivers where there’s free parking, where restrictions apply and where special types of spaces – such as electric-car charging and motorbike spots – are located. For example, red means restricted, and green means free.

My co-founder, Enric Requena, and I chose Google Maps APIs for the mapping solution to provide rich, reliable data that’s accessible via a user-friendly interface. The app pulls data in varying formats from many sources, so Enric and I developed the Parking Platform, which converts different formats into a usable API. That data is integrated and layered on top of Google Maps using Google Places Autocomplete API for Android, iOS and the web.
With other location-specific developer tools from Google, we’re able to provide our users with a more meaningful and contextual experience. Google Street View shows users where free parking spots are from a 360-degree view and street view. The Directions API is particularly useful in providing driving directions to open parking spots.

We’re also helping commercial fleets find parking information, reduce time spent looking for spots and improve fleet productivity. Fleets pay more than four million pounds per year in parking fines, so knowing where parking is available is extremely valuable for their bottom line.

AppyParking has helped more than 100,000 users find parking spaces faster and with less stress. We’ll continue to expand our app to provide more actionable information for drivers and have added confidence knowing that we can rely on Google Maps tools.

Tripping.com increases traffic and revenue to its vacation rental site with Google Maps APIs

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Danny Chi, director of engineering at Tripping.com. Read how Tripping.com and Google for Work Partner Navagis used Google Maps APIs to improve user experience and increase Tripping.com’s revenue and traffic – which has gone up by more than 2,000% over the past 12 months.

At Tripping.com, we aggregate vacation rentals from dozens of sites to help vacationers find the right listing from more than five million properties in 150,000 destinations. Our goal is to make it the world's largest website for researching vacation homes and short-term rentals.

To do that, we need to create the best customer experience to drive traffic and to turn website visitors into guests. That’s why we chose the Google Maps APIs, which let us build an easy-to-use interface with fast loading times and the ability to scale. The APIs also allow the maps to zoom in and out, and accurately confirm rental addresses from the sites we search.

Going with Google Maps APIs gave us access to vast and accurate location data. We also tapped into a world-class ecosystem of partners by choosing Google for Work Partner Navagis to help with licensing and technical advice on how best to start using Google Maps APIs.

When a user visits Tripping.com, they search for where and when they plan to vacation. We send the search to multiple vacation-rental sites, and we use the Google Maps JavaScript API to layer the results onto a Google Map. The left side of the screen displays the map with pins. The right side of the screen displays a photo of each rental. Users can click a pin to display the photo of the rental, and click the photo for more details and to complete their booking.

The Google Places API helps the site automatically scale the map to match searches. For example, if the user searches rentals in Paris, the Places API indicates the correct zoom level to display listings. If, instead, he searches for the Eiffel Tower, it will do a tighter zoom. The Places API also helps ensure accurate address data since in some cases the rental owners don’t provide complete address information.

With the help of the Google Maps APIs, Tripping.com’s traffic has grown 2,918%, to more than two million unique monthly visitors. So thanks to the Google Maps APIs, we’re not only keeping our visitors happy—we’re also seeing great business benefits as well.

From scratching vinyl to starting up: Q&A with Mitch Hills of AroundAbout

Flora Wong, Head of Maps for Work Marketing Asia Pacific

Today we speak with the founder of AroundAbout. An activity generating app that started in Brisbane, Australia. Mitch Hills got his first taste for business when he started POGO Entertainment, an event production company, at age 17. He ran the business for more than two years while professionally DJing in Brisbane, Australia, then started his first technology venture at age 20. AroundAbout is a new activity-generating app powered by Google Maps APIs that helps people find interesting things to eat, drink and explore, whenever they want and wherever they are. I sat down with Mitch to learn more about the app, his creative process and how he likes to work.

Tell us more about how the app came about.

I’ve always been interested in entertainment and focused on the idea of “Tinder for activities” — the same simple interface, that gives you a way to find things to do, as well as places to eat and drink, just by swiping left or right. I love hospitality and wanted to create a curated place where people could find cool places and activities, with recommendations they could trust. Once I had the idea, I partnered with developers to make it a reality. Mapping is central to AroundAbout because the app visualises places for users to explore near them. We use the Google Maps iOS and Android APIs for our mobile apps. We chose Google because we wanted really accurate directions and a visually pleasing interface.

How would you describe the transition from DJing to starting your own tech company?

The transition wasn’t difficult, per se, but business itself is difficult. Last year I read 22 books about entrepreneurship, finance and self-development, but reading can only prepare you so much. My background in entertainment was actually incredibly useful, both for building my network and for relating to people who use the app. As I see it, entertainment is about presentation and perception, and that’s useful in any industry.

What do you think it takes to build a successful app for younger people?

Social media plays a huge role in this business, so we invest much of our energy in reaching out to people through social and PR. Young people are also more spontaneous, and we built the app to help feed that spontaneity. Young people also have lots of energy and can be interested in a lot of different things at once, so their tastes and needs can evolve quickly. You have to be constantly listening to what they want, where they’re looking for content and how they’re connecting with each other.

How do you come up with new ideas?

I get inspired by reading about or listening to experts, even if they aren't discussing something directly relevant to me. It gets my brain ticking and my creative juices flowing. I’m always thinking about ideas and come up with something new almost every day. I give it some thought and write it down — some are terrible, but others definitely have potential. I find that the best way to evolve an idea is to talk to people and see what they think.

It’s not easy coming up with ideas that resonate with consumers, particularly in a competitive, fast-moving industry like entertainment. Mitch has an interesting problem: too many ideas and not enough time. For now he’s focusing on AroundAbout and bringing its service to more people by expanding beyond Australia. As for whether Mitch still DJs, he says, “Music will always play a large role in my life, but as much as I like the hospitality industry, I love creating businesses more.”