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Thursday, April 2, 2020
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Local website OverHere is redefining the way people travel

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As South Africans plan for their December holidays, they can rely on new features in a completely free-to-use website developed by a Leon Schnell, Founder of OverHere.co.za.OverHere is a website which makes use of map code systems which is redefining the way people travel. Mapcodes were developed in 2001 by Pieter Geelen and Harold Goddijn, soon after the GPS satellite signals were opened up for civilian use. It was decided to donate the mapcode system to the public domain in 2008. A mapcode represents a location, they were designed to be short, easy to recognise, remember and communicate. They are precise to a few meters, which is good enough for every-day use. They are free and can be  used by anyone, accurate to within around five meters

Schnell was first exposed to open source map codes in 2016, where he worked for TomTom South Africa as a B2B Marketing Manager promoting map licensing to corporate clients and government. “Although I immediately saw the value of mapcodes, I felt a lot more could be done within a South African context to increase public awareness and uptake of this incredible technology.He then set a personal goal to see if he could use what he knew about web development and JavaScript to create a functioning website that enabled users to generate and decode mapcodes. Schnell achieved that goal and launched OverHere earlier this year. By promoting mapcodes in South Africa, OverHere is already unique and even at an international level it stands out

A mapcode consists of two groups of letters and digits, separated by a dot. An example of a mapcode in Amsterdam is 49.4V. This shortcode is sufficient as long as it is clear what country or state the mapcode belongs in (in this case, The Netherlands). Schnell notes that business cards are not is big enough for the full address full physical address, and you can’t write down a location pin by hand inside your phonebook or share it telephonically thus Mapcodes come in and play a major role to help you to find your way.

OverHere’s map codes help you to find your way easily whether you are in the bushveld, beaches or urban areas. The latest upgrade of OverHere adds walking directions alongside driving directions, attracted attention at industry conferences, helped ensure that deliveries to mines run smoothly, and given all its diverse visitors an alternative to sharing their location accurately. In May 2019, it enabled voters to find polling stations.

Along the way, he had to refresh what he learnt previously from only one year of Computer Science at University, teaching myself JavaScript, HTML and CSS web development in a WordPress environment said Schnell. “I’d love to live in a future where we’re all swopping addresses as mapcodes. Ultimately, it’s about establishing a thriving integrated ecosystem where mapcodes don’t become seen as alternatives to addresses, but they become the addresses.

 

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