Author Topic: Location-tracking website (route-specific)  (Read 1727 times)

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Offline oldschool

Location-tracking website (route-specific)
« on: July 26, 2011, 06:59:00 pm »
Having just completed the TransAmerica, I passed, overtook, was overtaken by, read about in guest-books and generally blog-and-twitter-stalked numerous other cyclists along the way. And I found I always wanted to keep up with how they were getting along on their own trip and where they'd got to etc.

It got me thinking (as a software developer) about how useful it could be to have some sort of 'cycle tourer tracking website'. Here's some general concepts:
  • Account based (other social networking accounts could be used for authentication etc). You are in charge of what info is visible to others.
  • Your profile could link to your other social networking accounts as well as your blog etc. Updates from any of these could be aggregated to your profile (twitter and facebook status updates, location check-ins etc). People could also contact (phone/email) you through your profile - according to your privacy settings of-course.
  • Location updates could come from Foursquare/Facebook Places etc - where APIs permit - or directly (maybe through a mobile app etc?)
  • You could view a map of a particular route and see what other cyclists are currently riding it and where they are. Or just see what cyclists are touring around a particular area.

The big thing for me is the last one - being able to easily follow the progress of other cycle tourers that I've met and see who I might bump into tomorrow etc.

The two main arguments against this concept are obvious:
  • "Not another online profile to worry about"
  • Privacy/security issues. How to restrict who can track where you are?

I guess if everyone used one particular location-tracking service (Foursquare/Google Latitude/Gowalla etc) then you could kind of just use that - but you'd have to have a way of sharing your details with other cycle tourers while at the same time being confident they are actually a cycle tourer and not posing as one for malicious reasons.

I could kind of envisage some sort of endorsement/joint initiative between the ACA and one of these services, perhaps even hosted on the ACA website - but the security issues still leave me struggling to see how it would be viable.

I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts on this. Is there a safe way of doing this kind of thing? Is it totally unrealistic? If not, how do you see it working? I'd definitely be interested in working towards a solution, if there is one!

Offline jsieber

Re: Location-tracking website (route-specific)
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 07:15:19 pm »
You might want to check out Track My Tour, http://trackmytour.com/. It seems to do a lot of the things that you are asking for. I believe it is only available for the iPhone and iPad, but I believe that they may make a Android version at some point.

Offline oldschool

Re: Location-tracking website (route-specific)
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 11:37:54 pm »
You might want to check out Track My Tour, http://trackmytour.com/. It seems to do a lot of the things that you are asking for. I believe it is only available for the iPhone and iPad, but I believe that they may make a Android version at some point.

Funnily enough I did track a couple of other cycle tourers using the TrackMyTour iPhone app - and I was very impressed. I would certainly be tempted to use that (instead of, for example, my Wordpress blog) for my next tour.

One tricky thing is getting lots of people to use it. As hinted in my last post, I think it would require something like an endorsement/recommendation from the ACA before enough people started using it for it to gain traction.

A bigger issue is that the only mobile device supported is the iPhone/iPad, with (according to their FAQ) 'no immediate plans' to support other mobile platforms such as Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile etc. So its not exactly widely accessible (weirdly the iPhone app seems to offer functionality that you can't get on the actual website, e.g. following people's tours).

Offline jsieber

Re: Location-tracking website (route-specific)
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 02:43:14 pm »

Funnily enough I did track a couple of other cycle tourers using the TrackMyTour iPhone app - and I was very impressed. I would certainly be tempted to use that (instead of, for example, my Wordpress blog) for my next tour.

One tricky thing is getting lots of people to use it. As hinted in my last post, I think it would require something like an endorsement/recommendation from the ACA before enough people started using it for it to gain traction.

A bigger issue is that the only mobile device supported is the iPhone/iPad, with (according to their FAQ) 'no immediate plans' to support other mobile platforms such as Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile etc. So its not exactly widely accessible (weirdly the iPhone app seems to offer functionality that you can't get on the actual website, e.g. following people's tours).


I agree about getting more people to use the app through promotion by Adventure Cycling Association. The Track My Tour app was reviewed awhile back on the Adventure Cycling Blog, http://blog.adventurecycling.org/2010/02/tourist-20-trackmytour-iphone-app.html.

I agree that having more supported devices would be nice to get a larger amount of the bicycle touring population using the app.

Offline NCMJ

Re: Location-tracking website (route-specific)
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2011, 09:27:14 pm »
Great concept!   It would be fun to look at a map of the country that had little flags for every cross country cyclist out there.... sort of like an air traffic control map.   Red flags for people going west to east,  blue flags for east to west.    ;D    As it stands now,  many cyclists have blogs or use track my tour so you can see the individual's location and progress, but it would be nice to have many cyclists plotted on one map.

Offline chrisch

Re: Location-tracking website (route-specific)
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2011, 07:40:27 am »
I'm the creator and developer of TrackMyTour, and can add a little here.  I would like to support other platforms such as Android and Windows7, but it's just a matter of resources.  TrackMyTour is a side project that I've writen in my spare time, and adding more platforms would require more time and money that I'm able to commit.  Ultimately, I would like to open the APIs for TrackMyTour and allow third party developers to create their own client.  I'm still a long way to figuring out how that would work.

(weirdly the iPhone app seems to offer functionality that you can't get on the actual website, e.g. following people's tours).

TrackMyTour is still a work in progress and I'm currently rewriting the entire following thing.  The main reason it didn't go into the website is that following is essentially a bookmark, which most people can already do with their browser.  There are a few other essential things I need to add the website such as search and perhaps a tighter Facebook integration.

Great concept!   It would be fun to look at a map of the country that had little flags for every cross country cyclist out there.... sort of like an air traffic control map.   Red flags for people going west to east,  blue flags for east to west.    ;D    As it stands now,  many cyclists have blogs or use track my tour so you can see the individual's location and progress, but it would be nice to have many cyclists plotted on one map.

TrackMyTour has a feature like this, which you can see here: http://trackmytour.com/tours/.  That's an interesting idea to colour code the pin depending on their direction.

I enjoy seeing TrackMyTour discussed in the forums, and always welcome feedback and ideas to improve the app.  Thanks!

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Location-tracking website (route-specific)
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2011, 10:26:16 am »
Last month I used SPOT Tracker with some success on the Lewis and Clark Trail east of Pierre, SD. Unfortunately, the weather turned against me and we had to bail after the heat index hit 105F and the winds were 25 MPH in my face, so it was only about a 20 mile test.  Have not decided about using it on the make-up (it was a fund-raising ride) on the Paul Bunyan State Trail, at the end of August. Our "base operator" in Minneapolis, was able to access the info on the SPOT website and keep track of our location and status.

"TrackMyTour" sounds good, but I have a Blackjack, not an I-phone or Droid, although with the "planned obsolescence" of smart-phones, I probably will have an I-phone sooner than later. I like the SPOT because even where the cell doesn't work, the SPOT will, and if I get in trouble in one of those "dead zones" I can still call for help.

Ride safe,
Hans
The Two-Wheeled Explorer: Ride the River
www.twowheeledexplorer.org
"Every person has a river to ride...you are to Ride the River."--Pr. Larry Christenson