Data that’s right on time


  • TECH
  • Thursday, 29 Aug 2013

HANDY: Fujitsu Asia's Lum (left) and Wong believe that a location based data analysis platform like SPATIOWL enables businesses to provide a whole new range of value added services to the public.

By SUSANNA KHOO
bytz@thestar.com.my

IMAGINE this: You’re on the way home from work and an app on your smartphone or a device in your car enables you to place an online order for the family dinner. The restaurant is located along your current route so you can stop to pick up on the way.

As you make your way towards the restaurant, you are told that you are passing a crime hotspot and are cautioned to be extra vigilant.

A sudden downpour ensues, and you are promptly advised on alternative routes to get to the restaurant in order to avoid being stuck in a jam. At the same time, you are given timely reminders to slow down at specific locations where the roads are slippery or where strong winds are blowing.

Although you’re anxious to see your family, you are not too worried about what’s going on back home as you are able to keep tabs on your two-year-old son’s whereabouts and monitor the health of your ageing mother with a simple touch of a screen.

These conveniences basically fall under the category of location-based services, which provide specially tailored information to an individual based on their current whereabouts.

Zeroing in on data

“These days, there’s a lot of data around. We’re leaving behind data footprints wherever we go. Companies can use sensor technology to collect such data in order to come up with meaningful insights. That information can then be channelled into new business areas which provide a particular service for society,” says Michele Lum, marketing director at Fujitsu (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

In particular, she feels that location-based services that promise a better, more efficient lifestyle are likely to gain popularity amongst consumers.

Fujitsu uses the catchphrase “human centric intelligent society” to describe such a lifestyle.

As part of its efforts to help organisations uncover the full potential behind location-based services, the company is now offering its SPATIOWL (pronounced “special”) solution to Malaysian market.

The SPATIOWL platform is a location-based data analytics and management system which enables businesses to collect data through the use of sensors or probes. Such data can also include unstructured data such as photos or information from social media.

The data that has been gathered would be mapped against a particular location and serves as a useful form of feedback for businesses.

Wider reach

SPATIOWL was first made available in Japan back in 2011, but since then it has made inroads into the European market as well. Now, Fujitsu plans to introduce the solution to the South-east Asia as well.

“Big data and analytics have been buzzwords in the IT industry, especially over the last two years. So it’s a good time to introduce something like SPATIOWL here,” explains Wong Weng Wah, regional vice-president for application services at Fujitsu Asia Pte Ltd.

The name SPATIOWL comes from a combination of the words “spatial” and “owl”.
“Spatial, because it’s about collecting information from the wide spaces around us, and we refer to the owl because it’s an ancient symbol of wisdom,” he says.

“There are various value added services that the SPATIOWL platform can offer. Such intelligence can be built into specific spaces or even into moving vehicles,” Wong adds.

So far, he shares that SPATIOWL has already been used in the logistics industry to enable companies to monitor the locations of a fleet of trucks or trailers.

Taxi operators have also made use of SPATIOWL to track traffic and weather information. Timely updates are then be broadcasted to all taxis in a particular region in real time.

In addition, Wong says SPATIOWL can also be applied to other industries such as tourism, where foreigners can be given useful information on the nearest places of interest that they can visit.

He adds that SPATIOWL can also be mobilised to assist in locating survivors or lost pets in the event of a natural disaster.

Great potential

“The technology is there to capture as much information as you want. But it’s up to the various organisations or the government to decide what kind of information do they want,” explains Wong.

“You’ve got to have the right data paired with the right strategy,” he says.
Commenting on the issue of privacy, he says the data collected via SPATIOWL would not be in violation of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

“We are not actually taking personal data because the information we collect is actually from the public domain,” says Wong.

Lum adds, “The technology itself is just an enabler. Each company is ultimately responsible in terms of how they use the information.”

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