Corrections or additions?
This article by Barbara Fox were prepared for the October 22,
2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Maps and Pizza
You wouldn’t think the pizza delivery business would
need to get too fancy. Pop the pie in the oven, don’t overcook the
cheese so it turns into rubber, and keep a driver waiting to speed
it to the hungry customer.
But the efficiency of the drivers, as it turns out, can turn an
customer into a lukewarm one. If they get lost on the way to your
door, both your pie and your enthusiasm cool.
A Princeton Meadows-based software company, Maptext, has helped a
pizza chain to streamline its delivery. Maptext helped to transform
cartography by automating the placement of street names on maps —
a job that until recently was done laboriously by hand. Its first
contracts were with government agencies like the Census Bureau and
the Defense Department, and now it has moved into the retail market.
Its pizza client is Papa John’s, headquartered in Louisville,
and with a company-owned store on Washington Road.
Papa John’s operates 2,800 restaurants in 49 states and 12
markets. For each restaurant it provides special maps, and it updates
these maps regularly. Maptext’s product, Label-EXT, makes the updating
easier and less expensive; it cut the time to finish each map from
six hours to 2 1/2 hours. "When you are making a high quality
map the software can do 90 percent of the labels," says Freeman.
"The rest get saved to a special file, and the mapmaker retrieves
those labels one at a time and places them." That’s still much
cheaper than placing them all by hand.
Based on each store’s information, Papa John’s provides drivers’ map
books that are divided into sectors based on geography and
— noting, for instance, that a highway may be hard to cross at
a particular time. The pizza company brought the map-making chore
in house in January, 2001. "The use of Label-EZ has allowed us
to provide small street detail with labels on the market maps,
that we were not able to achieve in the past. This has made the maps
easier for our operations team to review and adjust the delivery
says Patty Farris, Papa John’s international GIS manager. "We
started using Maptext hot and heavy in June, 2002. Maptext came down
and gave us two days of training, and now we create the maps you see
in the stores."
Maptext was founded in 1997 by Herbert Freeman, then a professor of
computer engineering at Rutgers University, to develop software for
automatically labeling such map features as roads, rivers, parks,
cities, and villages. No stranger to innovation, Freeman has the
of having helped design SPEEDAC, Sperry Corporation’s first digital
computer in 1953. The son of a German physician, Freeman immigrated
to the United States in 1938 at the age of 12. He received his
engineering degree from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and
his doctorate in electrical engineering from Columbia University.
He joined the department of electrical engineering at New York
in 1960 and was chairman of the department in 1968. He came to Rutgers
as a professor and served as director of the Center for Computer Aids
for Industrial Productivity until 1990.
In 1997 he moved the firm from his house to a 1,600-square-foot office
housing eight employees. Freeman admits he hasn’t been able to expand
his firm. In fact, until last year it didn’t show a real profit.
But he has had lots of contracts, including those with the U.S. Bureau
of the Census, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA),
of maps to the Defense Department, and numerous state, county and
municipal agencies, mapping companies, and commercial organizations
requiring maps for business purposes. For a recent client,
street guide publisher Mapsco, Maptext’s product halved the more than
500 hours needed to manually place 16,000 labels.
The latest version of Version 3.0, interfaces with a greater number
of GIS systems, and it has a companion software, Label-EditT. "All
control files can now be created via simple wizard-like auxiliary
programs, which also provide extensive error checking, increasing
reliability and reducing the learning curve for new users," says
Mapquest’s only competitor in the labeling field is ESRI, a much
company in Redlands, California. ESRI has a portfolio that includes
a text placement component. So with such little competition, why
Mapquest grown more?
Partly because ESRI is the largest of the general mapping software
providers, says Freeman. Freeman’s product is compatible with every
mapping software, including that of ESRI, Intergraph in Huntsville
Alabama, Bentley Systems in Pennsylvania, MapInfo in Troy, New York,
and Caris in Canada.
Until 2002 all the profits had to be plowed into development. "I
think it’s too early to go public," says Freeman. For now, all
the programming is done in house, and the website advertises positions
for programmers (C, Visual C, Visual Basic, and C++) and sales people.
What he needs is good salespeople. "We all do some selling, but
that is one of our weaknesses. But we can sell by telephone, E-mail,
and presentations over the web," says Freeman, noting that they
have a client in New Zealand.
Says Freeman: "We are still in business, and we are slightly
but it could it be better."
08536. Herbert Freeman, president. 609-716-7552; fax, 609-716-7553.
Home page: www.maptext.com
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.