Mobile locator lost on Google maps

Database is 4TB and growing

A Sydney-based mobile property location service has dropped Google Maps in favour of aerial photography which has sharper resolution.

MapShed has developed an application which integrates disparate data from separate Web services and presents them on the user's mobile phone.

Managing director Roy Hill said MapShed is a Web services company which has access to a live database of 10.5 million land parcels.

"When we went down to the land parcel boundary, Google wasn't good enough," Hill said. "A satellite pic from Google is 60cm per pixel and aerial photographs are 10cm per pixel."

The mobile application also pulls property data from the likes of

Hill said the land database is about 4TB in size and growing.

"They are not fixed maps, they are generated and rendered on the fly, so if it's for First National [real estate] we can make them look like their maps," he said.

An early adopter of the technology is Dural First National real estate on the outskirts of Sydney.

Managing director Pauline O'Neill said having access to property information on her 3G mobile phone saves a lot of time when on the road with potential customers.

"I take the phones out with me and I can go into the property and show my client the size and shape of the land," O'Neill said. "I can also show clients the nearest schools and doctors, it comes up on the screen."

The application also enables searches via street name and returns four maps, including the street block and suburb. It can also identify dams, buildings and sheds on properties.

"We used to use Google but now we have a better system," O'Neill said. "I can show clients stuff they don't even know about their property. We can also look at listings other agents have in the area and use this to compare values and will shortly be able to show sale prices on the screen."

A 30-year real estate industry veteran, O'Neill said using a mobile application allows her to compete with "much younger" local rivals.

The solution has also eliminated the need for a laptop to be taken out to properties, because O'Neill can see if changes have been made on the Web through the phone.

"The key benefits for me are image and cost," she said. "Until recently I was paying upwards of $600 a month for data. MapShed costs $3 a month so there is no bill shock, but I still pay $300 to $400 to service providers."

O'Neill said the biggest problem is the quality of service on Hutchison's 3 network.

"I hope we get better 3G service in the future," she said, adding speech recognition is also desirable as "it would be a lot easier to talk to the phone instead of keying".

O'Neill said a mobile CRM solution is now what she is "really looking at",so "I can do all that on the spot".

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