People will soon be able to log online and find the quickest way to their favourite shopping centre, avoiding congested roads.

A Maltese company, which by the end of this year will branch out to the US, the UK, Australia and Italy, will soon launch a location finder and real-time traffic monitoring map that can be used by the public for free.

Handson Systems, set up just 18 months ago, is a small, 15-person company that already provides fleet tracking information on some 1,200 vehicles.

It is the only local Google Maps-certified company and is at the moment building up a map with information tags of all the shops and places of interest on the Maltese islands.

The first phase, which will be concluded by the beginning of next month, will include the tagging of about 3,000 shops.

It is quite a task that is being done manually. The information is collected by an employee who cycles around towns and villages, tagging shops along the way on his Smartphone.

A similar system is already being used by vehicle and people transportation companies. It provides information on the exact location of a vehicle, the speed at which it is travelling and even the percentage of the remaining fuel in the gas tank. In this manner, operators can manage their fleet better as, for example, they would know which vehicle is closest to which place.

The company is now developing the system further. It is building an information layer on Google maps, indicating places of interest like pharmacies, shops, schools, a bus terminus, pet shops, the airport and gas stations.

This will be made available to the public free of charge within three months.

Handson Systems hopes to have all the islands’ businesses – about 5,000 – tagged by July so that it can start working on its next project: building a traffic information mapping system.

The system will inform drivers when they approach a speed camera and indicate by how much they would be travelling beyond the speed limit.

“This is not a policing system but an operation tool that helps people and companies save money and time,” chief technology officer Geoffrey Farrugia said, adding that creativity and innovation were the company’s key to success.

“The company’s not afraid of trying out or pushing new technology. Most of the time, new ideas cost money but they pay out over time,” he said.

The company has just finalised its first sponsorship of a motor sport team – Team Maximum Lock – which is organising a drift show across Europe.

www.handsonsystems.co.uk