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Business Intelligence Driven Through Real-Time Data and Social Maps

When faced with a power outage, the last thing I want to do is to figure out the customer service number of the Utility company, press a million numbers and wait on the line for half an hour. Simply because no one likes to hear the automated message “All our customer service executives are currently busy, we will be with you shortly”.

Somewhere in the middle of trying to Google their number, my mind is going to wander into Twitter-Universe trying to figure out the best way to rant about the outage and to figure out if there is already a good hashtag for it.

Surely, there must be a better way for Utility companies to keep track of outages without having to wait for customers to actually call and vent out their issues! That’s exactly what the folks at DataCapable have built – a data-driven mechanism for intelligent outage detection and reporting. 

Using Geosocial intelligence for actionable insights

Back in 2013, Zac Canders and Peter DiSalvo, the founders of DataCapable realized that the social media is changing the way customers and companies are interacting. When they tried to use this new-age approach to contact their Utility company in vain, they figured out that these companies simply did not have the right type of tools to analyze social media (rants) and turn them into actionable intelligence. And that is exactly what they set out to built with UtiliSocial.

It’s easy to draw parallels between the PetaJakarta project which uses tweets to create a real-time flood map of Indonesia and DataCapable. DataCapable’s algorithms mine data from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to understand and deliver situational awareness to Utility companies.

In addition to that, in collaboration with New York University Stern School Of Business, DataCapable is working on developing an analytics tool to anticipate and help prevent issues before they occur.

Make Maps Social

It’s interesting to see how analytics is helping Utilities companies connect with their customers and vice-versa but the most interesting aspect of DataCapable is how all of this information from social media gets a whole new capability when you geo-tag it.

When talking to Zac about DataCapable, he mentioned that their main mission for 2017 is to “Make Maps Social”. Zac isn’t satisfied by just displaying power outage and other geotagged information on a map, he wants to make use of the all the capabilities of GIS. They have partnered with Esri to make use of the ArcGIS platform for their GIS analysis and are an Esri Emerging Business Partner.


Earlier this year, they launched the first (and only) ArcGIS Facebook adapter for Utilities – EventCast. EventCast allows Utility companies to embed “Event Maps” into their existing Facebook pages (saving users from having to click endlessly for the same information).

It might seem like a normal map but the fact that you can now display a Event Map created with ArcGIS directly inside Facebook is something that will definitely help Utility companies.

Source: Esri Startups Twitter Account 

DataCapable’s foray into GIS doesn’t just stop with EventCast, they are also integrating Esri’s analytics into their predictive analytics and have already incorporated weather and other geotagged sensor data into their tool.

It’s amazing to see social media analytics seamlessly fuse together with what you might call traditional GIS analysis to provide business intelligence in a manner that we could have only dreamt of a few years ago. 2017 is the year that Zac envisions as the year where DataCapable “Makes Maps Social” and we are certainly rooting for them at Geoawesomeness to do exactly that 🙂 

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Guess what! Google once again allows you to share your location

Last week was pretty intense for Google Maps. A few days ago they announced a handy feature which allows saving location of a parking spot. Yesterday, the company unveiled a pretty awesome functionality for their maps, where you can share your real-time whereabouts with friends or colleagues. In my opinion, this is not only a convenient but strategic feature, that will boost user engagement of the product.

Why is that? Imagine that you are in a crowded space, or are late for a meeting. In such situations, you would like to share information about where you are and when you reach your destination. In this concept, you will open up the application and choose to share your exact location and trip progress with one or many people. Interestingly the app lets you set how long your location will be visible to others. Your selected friends will receive a link that opens inside Google Maps and shows your geographic position on the map. After you reach your destination point, you won’t broadcast your location anymore.

For those who are worried that their privacy might be at risk, there are reminders within the app to let them know that they are still broadcasting their whereabouts. Obviously, they will be able to stop it at any time. Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps said: “This is not a new concept, this is about making it simple, accessible and giving users a lot of control and privacy”.

I agree that the idea is not new. In 2009, the company launched a location-sharing app called Latitude which offered the same features. Unfortunately, it was closed due the low interest and lack of functionality (compared to FourSquare) on August 9, 2013. The major difference between the new feature in Google Maps and Latitude lies in term of control. The current idea was designed for short term use instead of the “always-on” location sharing, that was used in Latitude. Google announced that the feature is rolling out “soon” for iOS, Android, and the web. To understand how it works, check out this video. I can’t wait for the release!

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