Giovanni Guardalben, HiT Syndicaat

Developing Enterprise Syndication Management Systems

Location: Affi, Italy

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

RSS Content Syndication and Location-Based Services

More and more technology commentators indicate that RSS is going to be used for a lot more than blog content syndication (see for instance RSS, Not Just for Blogs Anymore! ).
In the past weeks, major developments came from A9 (Amazon - Open Search). Basically, they proposed that public search engines support a minimalist approach for query definition/result set descriptions based on RSS 2.0. This comes from the intuition that RSS as a collection of categories each one containing a time-sorted collection of items is a very simple yet effective way of distributing content (whether it comes from text searches, web searches, blogs, database searches, etc. or other datasources - such as GIS sources).
A few months, HiT Internet Technologies, Spa decided that RSS technology was a good candidate for strategic software development. For this reason, I started an initiative (called The HiT Syndicaat Initiative) to create a framework for an enterprise RSS content management and authoring.
So, now we have HiT Syndicaat ( which is an enterprise syndication management system (based on the RSS 2.0 XML standard) that simplifies the tasks involved in the creation and editing of content to syndicate.
However, where does this fit with Location Based Services ?
A few months ago, we had a project request for proposal for linking a GIS system to an event/alert management system. The underline requirement was to provide government and private institutions with modern means to distribute quasi-real time location-based events (suche road blocks, construction, disasters, etc.) over the internet/intranet (possibly, with security and authentication included).
We figured that RSS syndication was definitely the right way to support GIS-based alerts. Relying on HiT Syndicaat, this turned out to be a fairly simple task. We created a number of RSS feeds based on the event types and geographical areas to cover. Then, a web-based GIS application (MapWorld by HSC Italia MapWorld) was augmented to allow the creation of specific events in specific geographical areas.
Currently, users are returned alerts both as RSS alerts (by using standard RSS aggregators, or a HiT Syndicaat specialized alert) and as SMS/email messages for the syndication channels they subscribe to.
We presented our location-based solution at a recent Mobile Monday event in Rome. You can find and download a .ppt presentation at Mobile Monday LBS.
Future enhancements: we are considering extending our client alerts to define flexible areas to monitor for events (i.e., geographical area events are generated dynamically). Also, we are considering using the new GreaseMonkey technology (from Mozilla Firefox) to inject into generalist mapping engines (such as GMAP) in such way to make them capable of creating HiT Syndicaat-compatible syndication messages.


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