At a Glance

What they wanted to do:

  • Integrate up-to-date mapping data with powerful features into the company’s GPS tracking and tracing, mobile security, navigation and location-based services.
  • Grow the company’s market beyond The Netherlands by integrating a broader range of global maps and features.

What they did:

  • Implemented integration of Google Maps API to access worldwide mapping material with features like geocoding, without time-consuming management and maintenance.

What they accomplished:

  • Saved time and money by implementing Google Maps API.
  • Devoted more resources to the development of new and innovative Tracking & Tracing solutions for monitoring and protecting people and objects.

"With Google Maps we can devote ourselves fully to expanding our innovative Tracking & Tracing solutions portfolio."

—Marco van der Hoorn, general manager, NTM Technologies

NTM Technologies drives innovation with Google Maps API

Business

Based in the Netherlands, NTM Technologies develops innovative solutions for GPS tracking and tracing, mobile security, navigation and location-based services. Underlying all of these solutions is a dedication to safety and insights into the location and movements of people, vehicles and objects. NTM develops its own solutions as well as customizes solutions for government institutions and companies. Products range from a system for locating patients by care institutions, to a solution that helps protect visiting social service employees.

Challenge

"The demand for development of a mobile GPS tracking solution emerged from the government a couple of years ago. They wanted a compact item of equipment, which was able, without an Internet connection, to determine the position of a person or object. This location then had to be visible on a map using a mobile phone or a PC,” explains Marco van der Hoorn, general manager of NTM Technologies. Translating the location information messaged from the tracker into a concrete address or position on a map “demanded extremely detailed and up-to-date maps,” van der Hoorn explains.

“We had topographical maps of the Netherlands, but our clients wanted more details like street names, and we wanted to introduce GPS Monitor outside the Netherlands,” says van der Hoorn. “It’s difficult and expensive to keep maps upto-date. There was also a lack of good mapping outside Western Europe. All of this limited our product’s growth potential,” he notes.

Solution

In building its online GPS Monitor platform, NTM Technologies had the option of either developing its own mapping materials or finding a partner that could effectively support this far-ranging initiative. After investigation, NTM Technologies decided that implementing Google Maps API was the best solution. “Google Maps offers us global mapping material which is guaranteed to be up-to-date. This strongly improves scalability for our products,” van der Hoorn explains. Working with Google, NTM Technologies arranged for map access to be run only on HTTPS, to ensure the security of the connection and data.

“We were also able to expand our services with all the features that Google Maps offers. Alongside standard maps with street names, clients also have access to Google Earth and Google Street View modes. They can zoom into a location and view the immediate environment.” In addition, van der Hoorn notes, “clients determine the level of detail they want to see. This enables us to offer our clients extra services in a very intuitive, familiar way.”

The reverse geocoding feature also saves time, eliminating the need to translate the GPS coordinates the tracker sends into readable address details and the need to maintain complex databases.

develop the system very quickly, and there was minimal disruption to the service during the transfer,” he adds. The AA found it simple to overlay its own data regarding hotels, restaurants and other points of interests to motorists, on top of the open API platform which Google has built for its customers.

Results

Since switching to Google Maps, the AA has noticed an increase of 12% in downloaded routes, with time spent on the site by visitors also increasing considerably. 20% of visitors stay on the routing site for five minutes or more, compared to six percent with the previous tool. 42% of visitors spend between one and four minutes on the route planner, compared to 18% previously. “The dramatic increase in the number of visitors to the site, the time they now spend on the site and the number of routes downloaded is a clear indication of the benefits we have seen from implementing Google Maps API,” Steve notes. “The fact that many visitors are familiar with Google Maps means the site is now more user-friendly and appealing, and feedback from customers has been very positive.”

As well as improving user experience and boosting the popularity and value of the website, the AA has also seen benefits from an IT management perspective. Rather than spending time and resources supporting the map hardware and software infrastructure, it can leave this to Google and focus on adding new components to the website such as o!ering information on walking and cycling routes, which is possible due to the ability to zoom in to street level using Google Maps. The AA also now offers mobile access.

“The open nature of Google Maps API means that we are able to quickly add exciting new features to our website,” explains Steve. “Having Google take care of the maps means we can focus on innovating our core routing technology and stay ahead of our competition to ensure the site remains popular and therefore valuable to the business. It’s proved a huge success so far and we are confident Google Maps will help us take the business from strength to strength.”