Thursday, May 20, 2010

A smarter way to advertise the Location of your business

The North Western part of Dublin where I live is changing rapidly. A large number of businesses are constantly opening up (and closing down). In addition new roads are constantly being built and as a result it is very difficult for people to find their way. People running businesses are concerned to see that their business can easily be found by potential customers. As a result businesses will often spend money erecting signs like the one shown in this picture directing people to their business. Since many people now have SatNav systems it would be much better if businesses would merely publicise their latitude and longitude.

For example, this sign is quite a distance from the Hotel to which it is directing you and because of the way it is positioned is  not clear whether it is directing you straight through the roundabout or to turn left (possibly it was knocked off course by the wind). In fact you could get to the hotel in question quite easily by taking either direction. If you look for directions from Yahoo maps, you will be directed straight ahead at this junction, but there are 11 steps in the directions from Yahoo and when I travelled along the route recently only 3 of these had signs directing you which turn to take. So someone whose only clue was the signs erected by the hotel would get hopelessly lost.

The hotel web site has a page giving detailed directions how to get there. They also state the their "Go Code" is "L2H GJFK". After much searching on the web I found that this code comes from a company who are trying to promote their own scheme of post codes for Ireland. The company has a secret formula for converting between Go Code and Lat/Long coordinates (the only way to convert between them is by using the companies web site). It would be much simpler if the Hotel advertised that they are at latitude 53.366 and longitude -6.389 (I found this out using this simple tool I wrote a while ago - but there are many other ways to do this).

IBM follows this strategy for the page listing the IBM locations in Ireland. It is trivially easy for anyone to enter the latitude/longitude coordinates of the site you want to visit into any brand of SatNav and/or any of the popular mapping tools. The measurement of position by latitude and longitude are one of the few systems that work anywhere in the world. This is especially useful in countries like Ireland who have no widely accepted standards for how addresses should be written.

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