There’s a huge amount of value in location-based services, and I’m not even necessarily talking about shopping deals and the like. Maps are the ideal way to both collect and present localized data on all sorts of things, from crime to potholes — the only issue is setting up such services and, as it happens, a Finnish outfit called Grafetee has just launched tools to make that task a lot easier.
Grafetee lets you set up a new embeddable, interactive map on the Grafetee website, for free and within a minute or two. This service was already available, but now bloggers and businesses can pay $20 a month for a premium version that includes a channel in the Grafetee mobile app (for Android and iOS), customizable graphics and tools for moderating user submissions. Enterprise and governmental users can also pay $200 a month to get a webpage under their own domain, along with premium support and API access to their content.
The Finnish police force was an early Grafetee user, having set up a map so citizens could, for example, notify the cops that a certain park should be patrolled on weekends due to troublesome teenagers hanging out there. Since then, others picked up on the idea, such as animal shelters wanting people to flag strays, and mobile operators looking to crowdsource coverage data. According to founder Juha Huttunen, someone even set up a Grafetee map for tracking toxic seaweed during the Finnish summer.
And yes, it can be used for offers too. “If you have a chain of cafes or whatever you can send your own offers to your customers,” Huttunen explained to me. “You would have a channel in the Grafetee app and, using the toolkit, the cafeteria would upload their offers. Anyone subscribing to the channel in the app would see those offers whenever they are close by.”
A couple of Finnish startups have already built their services using Grafetee, and they actually provide a pretty good insight into the range that’s on offer. One, kidd.io, is on the simple side, collecting and displaying the locations of child-friendly services around Helsinki. Hoods.fi, a location-based flea market and garage sale service, shows greater complexity.
There are other services in this space — AmigoCloud targets the enterprise and public administrations, Ushahidi’s Crowdmap (currently in closed beta) is for aid groups tracking crises, and Everplaces is all about community-sourced recommendations – but none that I’ve seen have quite the combination of simplicity and breadth that Grafetee offers.