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I confess, I’m a map user. Since I was little, I’ve collected maps as souvenirs of trips and as daydreams of places I might go.  The paradigm shift from paper maps to digital rendering hasn’t changed my appetite for geo-info, and the explosion of new possibilities over the last few years has given me new worlds to explore (literally).  In this blog, I’ll describe ways we’re using maps for Community Day events, and share opportunities for SDN/BPXers.

Event Planning

For big events like Tech Ed, Sapphire and ASUG, professional conference organizers work with conference facility staff to map out room allocations, hotel block reservations and logistics, using maps of many sorts.  When a conference I attended a while back published a PDF file showing the vendor floor, from booths to concrete posts, to restrooms, I was fascinated.  It wasn’t interactive, but I was able to plan my route from current to prospective partners, to places with good T Shirts.

For medium size events, we use geographic data to plan where to meet, how to get there and what’s in the vicinity. I’m working with Ignacio and Blagto leverage our prior experiences to make the Latin America and otherCommunity Days in 2008 great successes.

Then there’s smaller events, from ASUG or other user group chapter meetings, to casual meet-ups (“I’m in Philadelphia in January 2008 – stop by?”) to lunch-and-learn exchanges between SAP customers in the same area.  In my city, McCormick Spice and Under Armour are just a couple peers we visit.

Prior Art

I’m standing on the shoulders of giants here (think Atlas holding up the Earth). 

Eddy de Clercq is a great role model, one whom I’ve just begun to appreciate — you long-time SDN members showed your appreciation of him at Community Day during TechEd in Las Vegas.  I want to be like Eddy if I ever grow up.  So, he is one resource I would turn to when trying something new.  I had seen his SDN world map a few months ago and thought “this is pretty cool” but as I look closer it is really awesome.  I added my virtual push-pin to the database after zooming in and around, looking for people and places I know or want to know.   Read in We are the world how and why this was conceived, designed and built (some of the links in that blog have moved).  Also see From the Grumpy Old Man: Hoy en el mundo.  It would be really great to leverage this more, so if you haven’t signed in – why not? As of 17-Nov-2007, there were 1760 SDN users mapped, which if my math is correct, is around 0.1% of all SDNers.

Screen shots from SDN world:

The World:

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Zooming in on Peru (where Blag lives, works, and blogs):

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Since Marilyn mentioned SAP TechEd 07 – Bangalore, here are clips from 22-Nov-2007 for there:

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(I wonder how many will be on the map in a week?)

Gregor Wolf is another SAP Mentor (!) whom I can’t even being to appreciate and to applaud.  His blog Geocode Business Partner with Google Maps on a Google API ABAP combination is concise, detailed, thorough, and has a straightforward approach to using SAP software with mapping capabilities.  Who would think ABAP when they start flying around Google Earth? But it make sense.

Yet another blog, Developing composite applications with PHP – Google Maps, by Frederic-Pascal Ahring, dives into the brave new world of map technology for a Customer Fact Sheet.

More examples are out there I haven’t read yet.  Searching SDN I found 49 blogs and 8 wiki pages for “google maps”, and 45 blogs with “yahoo map.”

Challenges

The traveling salesman problem is a classic question in the field of operations research, one familiar to anyone that’s taken computer science classes – how to minimize the route a person takes visiting a series of customers.  Way back in the 70s, I helped a graduate student working on his Ph.D. in linear programming, using the simplex method.  We looked at service delivery in fire station siting  in a large metropolitan area. We had data on numbers of fires and false alarms, population, and property values.  The city wanted to know choices for consolidating or relocating stations.  At that time, mapping technology consisted of printing Xs on 11×17 green bar paper.  One of my tasks was producing transparent overlays with inked community boundaries and major streets, to be copied with the computer output for management views.  What you can do today is just amazing! 

Digital map overlays are a key part of the Web 2.0 mashup concept, where you can bring a variety of resources to bear.  Google Earth lets users posts photos, so you could check out the view from your hotel room before booking it, or see where the artists hang out in cafés.

Power and network connectivity are critical when using an infrastructure behind a mobile device; for example, and a highway accident blocks traffic, so people use their cell phones, which overwhelm the tower capacity. It’s hard to find the alternate routes then, so keep a paper backup on hand!

For the next big SAP convention in the U.S. (Sapphire and ASUG), we don’t have room assignments yet, but distance between sessions is a common complaint as events grow.    I will be researching adding geo data into the program material, so you would be able to decide your agenda based on the closest room, or be able to rank your choices with distances in mind.  I’ve communicated with developers and researchers in SAP mobile technologies, from Montreal to Tel Aviv to Bangalore, and am looking forward to the next generation of friendly hand-held maps.

More Kudos

Besides the above SDNers, others have helped me on this subject, including Marilyn Pratt, who is SAP Community Cares on a “world tour” of several countries.  As you can tell from the above, I’m not a developer, but hope I’m the “big picture” guy sharing thoughts on leveraging emerging technologies to mutual benefit.

References

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    It’s very exciting to see the mentoring happening between communities as well as between commuity members.  Your blog together with Chris Hanshew’s and the activities of our members in England, Peru and Argentina really demonstrates how we close cultural gaps and distance here in SDN and BPX.  I’m excited about my upcoming travels and hope I get to hear good stories all over south east asia as well.  Bangalore: here I come.
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    1. Jim Spath Post author
      Marilyn – In response to your mentioning Bangalore, I added a screen shot today, zoomed in on SDNers there.  Enjoy!  Jim
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