ArcNews Online

Summer 2005
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Sprint and Esri Partner to Offer Wireless Location and Messaging Services to Geospatial Developers

Sprint is a $28 billion company with customers in more than 70 countries. This innovative company has many firsts, including being the first in the United States to have a nationwide, all-digital, all Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) wireless network, providing single-platform scalability and consistency.

  ArcWeb diagram
SBMF is accessible through ArcWeb standard SOAP/XML interfaces.

Sprint is first again—this time focusing on growing mobile data services by partnering with software developers that can leverage Sprint's wireless network capabilities to build innovative Web and wireless applications. Sprint has created the Sprint Business Mobility Framework (SBMF), a complete Web services delivery platform that enables enterprise information technology developers to use the Sprint wireless network to telecom enable their IT applications.

"The Sprint Business Mobility Framework provides critical components required to embed wireless telecom features into IT processes and applications," says David Owens, vice president of marketing, Sprint. "Our platform, along with value-added geospatial capabilities from Esri, allows both IT developers and traditional GIS end users to take advantage of Sprint's network services capabilities such as presence, location, and messaging."

Specific Sprint Business Mobility Framework services include

  • Presence—Allows a server application to determine if a mobile phone is on, off, or in a voice or data session
  • Location—Allows a server application to request the latitude/longitude coordinates of a mobile phone on Sprint's network
  • Messaging—Allows a server application to send alerts/messages to a mobile phone on Sprint's network
  click to enlarge
Applications use SBMF to locate mobile workers and send messages to their mobile phones (also see below).

SBMF is based on The Parlay Group's (San Ramon, California) Parlay X specification. The Parlay Group is an open multivendor forum created to standardize and promote open programming interfaces to the wireless telecom network. Parlay X Web services provide a rich, high-level interface to network services and enable enterprise developers to extend their applications to mobile devices without them having to be experts in mobile and telecommunications technology. Parlay X is endorsed by the wireless telecommunications standards group's 3rd Generation Partnership Project and European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

When combined with GIS servers and other standard IT application servers, SBMF services provide developers with an extraordinary suite of value-added capabilities they can use to significantly enhance mapping applications and extend them to support mobility to solve mobile workforce problems.

For example, small businesses in retail, construction, manufacturing, courier delivery, and many others can use SBMF to manage mobile staff productivity when responding to customer service requests or delivering goods and services. The application possibilities are endless and not limited to any one vertical industry. With SBMF, it is easy to build back-office applications that answer typical dispatch manager questions, such as "Where are you?" "Where are you going?" and "Have you completed the job?"

click to enlarge  

Outside the back office in the field, SBMF can help trigger geofence messages and alerts to supply field personnel with real-time work order information, supporting facilities maps, and routing directions. The benefits inside and outside the office are numerous, providing businesses with a way to streamline their operations, provide better customer service, decrease operating costs, and generate more revenue—all with simple, inexpensive mobile phones and GIS. SBMF reduces both the cycle times and costs associated with business processes applied to improve operational efficiency while offering new, mobile products to employees, partners, suppliers, and customers.

Esri and Sprint have established a corporate alliance partnership to best offer the geospatial developer and GIS user communities with a consolidated, preintegrated product offering to simplify SBMF access and use within Esri products.SBMF is integrated into ArcWeb Services 2005 and future ArcWeb Services versions. SBMF-ArcWeb Services integration focuses on two major usage types: developers and end users.

For developers, the presence, location, and messaging capabilities SBMF offers are pre- integrated and exposed through ArcWeb Services Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)/XML interfaces. Developers can use these services and combine them with other ArcWeb Services to build complete location-based applications atop the commercial map data sources offered through ArcWeb Services. This provides developers with a one-stop shop to get everything needed to develop enterprise workforce mobility applications with very little upfront investment. Esri and Sprint are actively engaging the developer community and encourage Esri business partners to explore enhancing their solutions with these services.

For Esri end users running ArcGIS Server or ArcGIS Desktop, SBMF is accessible through the ArcWeb toolbar and standard SOAP/XML interfaces. Customers can use the ArcWeb toolbar with ArcGIS Desktop to access SBMF capabilities, or they can use ArcWeb Services SOAP/XML interfaces within ArcGIS Server to augment larger enterprise applications (see flowchart).

For more information, contact Dan Sershen, Sprint Business Solutions (tel.: 913-794-2172), or Darlene Patton, Esri Market Development, Sprint Business Solutions (e-mail:, tel.: 972-405-7208).

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