To close out the year of 2018 we have the pleasure of interviewing Tim Fernando, co-founder of travel journal service Esplorio. Esplorio is an interesting service (and OpenCage customer!) because it allows travellers to easily share their journeys with friends and families by aggregating the location data from the various social media services they are already using.
Tim also managed to win the coveted SplashMaps best speaker prize with his presentation about Esplorio at the October 2017 #geomob, the location dev meetup we run every few months. Here’s a picture of him receiving the prize:
1. Tim, who are you, and what exactly is Esplorio ?
2. Who uses Esplorio? Why?
Travel has been growing at an ever increasing rate, and when people travel they gain a sense of achievement, a better understanding of the world and its cultures and have memories they will treasure forever. However as we travel more, it becomes more difficult to catalogue and remember these memories.
Esplorio records these memories automatically using any combination of photos, social media, GPS tracks and auto detected checkins, so that you have a personal sharable log. You can even send real physical postcards from your phone and photobooks for your coffee table when you’re back from travelling.
Esplorio tells the complete story of your journeys and people love the storytelling, like/comment and privacy options which are simply not available on any other network. It’s the perfect place to store the memories of your most valuable experiences. This means we appeal to everyone from gap year students, to family holidays to retired folks on cruises.
3. A key consumer issue over the last few years - especially since the introduction of GDPR - has been privacy and data protestion. How does this play out in the context of the location tracking you do?
Ever since we started Esplorio way before GDPR came in, we have kept a particular eye on privacy. Indeed our mantra has been “private until you say otherwise” and so you need to explicitly share for something to be visible to others.
We don’t sell/share your personal data (unless you explicitly tell us to) and want to ensure that Esplorio is a safe place for people to keep their most treasured memories.
4. Like us here at OpenCage, you’re working with many different data sources and digital services. tell us a bit about the technical challenges?
We handle a lot of geo data, indeed around 100 million unique places have been catalogued by our users. This gives us particular scale challenges which means that the big companies’ geo service products are too expensive/slow to use.
To counter this, we use lots of techniques to improve our efficiency like incremental map reduce, geo hashes and just-in-time processing to give our users the right information in each view.
5. What’s the craziest trip you’ve seen an Esplorio user share?
Oh wow, there are too many to choose! We see public trips which include everything from lovely family holidays to Disney World through to epic road trips across continents like a journey from the Netherlands to Morocco in a Land Rover or a retirement trip around the world in 78 days.
Earlier this year we also helped two road rallies track their contestants. The Lada Rally had their contestants fly into Talinn, Estonia, buy a car and then drive it down to Thessaloniki in Greece within a week! The Tesla Monte Carlo or Bust rally had 21 Tesla electric vehicles travel from London to Monte Carlo through challenging alpine roads, on this we were able to live track lots of extra metrics including each car’s battery level, remaining range and even wind speed and cabin temperature.
6. As the year draws to a close, what are the plans for Esplorio in 2019?
2019 is going to be exciting, we have several new products coming out and we’re entirely revamping our user interfaces to be simpler and quicker to use. Users can also look forward to more ways of curating, sharing and even some cool new integrations with other popular services. It’s going to be awesome.
Many thanks Tim for sharing your story, and being our final interviewee of 2018. One thing that has been very cool to witness over the last years is that the barrier to use of geodata has fallen, more and more interesting consumer services are emerging that let normal people better explore geography - be that the geography of their own journeys as with Esplorio, or with other types of location based services. We look forward to continuing to reduce that barrier to entry.
Best wishes to everyone for a great 2019,