Tag: lbs

Yesterday Chris Brogan had an interesting blog post sharing his take on the state of LBS and what it will need to take it to the next level.  As a noted and respected voice in the areas of new media communication and social networking, Chris points out what he considers to be current limitation of LBS technology application and also identifies some things he thinks would add value to the the LBS offering to consumers.  For the record, I would agree that LBS is in its infancy, that its value to the average consumer is pretty limited.  Recent studies have show that the uptake of LBS applications is limited to a small, keen segment of the population but others suggest it is growing. Having said that, I also believe there is great potential for growth in LBS application development.

Key value adds today:

  • Proximity.  Identify your location to business, provide you with real time updates on information such as local traffic and weather.
  • Navigation.  Plan your route, obtain real time directions.

Some new interesting developments:

  • Geofencing.  An extension of proximity capability to define a region of interest around your current location or some fixed point. Applications might be to monitor the movement of a known object (like your kids or a pet?), identify businesses within some limit of my current location (barbers within three blocks).  In his post Chris Brogan refers to this as an identity register.
  • M2M. Machine to machine technologies are emerging in a wide array of b2b markets it will be interesting to see how effectively these can be extended to a consumer market.

Some things that would take LBS to the next level:

Chris Brogan also mentioned temporary groups and commerce capability as important enhancements to the LBS experience.

From my perspective I see analytics as being another important enhancement both from a business and consumer perspective.

Challenging issues:

LBS applications are dependent on content.  To the extent that it is available, applications with flourish or remain marginal.  For instance, if I want to know the barbers in a three block radius of my current location, how many of the existing barbers are actually discoverable?  Obviously those that are, will benefit from the application but if I perceive the information content presented to me is incomplete my confidence in the LBS application will lag.

The other side of the content coin is information privacy.  An issue not limited to the world of LBS applications, the question of protecting information a user considers private (such as current or past location) is an important one. The idea of temporary groups may be one way of addressing privacy concerns.

Those are a few of my thoughts.   Let me know what you think.

Location base services have emerged as one of the trending wireless application areas and as new applications emerge, the conversation about user privacy grows.

With respect to LBS, the privacy issue revolves around the need to make a user’s location known.  Location awareness allows the user to benefit from the application or service but on the downside, making ones location known can bring on a potential range of unintended, unpleasant or even dangerous results for the user.  So for LBS providers, a key question is how to balance the collection, use and dissemination of user location and related information so as to provide benefits without serving up or facilitating unintended results.

While the discussions around this topic are many, I found it encouraging that the CTIA – a leading representative for the wireless industry association recently published “Best Practices and Guidelines for Location Based Services” which focuses on user privacy and information security.  The document is intended for LBS providers with an objective to ensuring the LBS applications being developed and offered to users promote and protect user privacy.

The guidelines are developed around two fundamental principals – user notice and user consent and state:

  • LBS Providers must ensure that users receive meaningful notice about how location information will be used, disclosed and protected so that users can make informed decisions whether or not to use the LBS and thus will have control over their location information.
  • LBS Providers must ensure that users consent to the use or disclosure of location information, and LBS Providers bear the burden of demonstrating such consent. Users must have the right to revoke consent or terminate the LBS at any time.

Specific elements of the guidelines include:

  • Provision of notice to users
  • Obtaining user consent and allowing users to revoke their consent
  • Establishment of information safeguards

As the guidelines points out, there are many groups who could be the LBS provider so the challenge will be to bring about concensus on appropriate guidelines and then broad adoption.  It is encouraging that the industry is take steps to meet these challenges.   From an industry and individual provider perspective, I believe proper attention is key to healthy growth.

If you are an LBS provider I encourage you to read and consider how to implement the guidelines. While there is nothing binding about the CTIA guidelines, they are encouraging LBS providers to self-certify for the benefit of users.

Real Estate Gets It – Location is Everything

A recent article in the Financial Post reminds us of what the real estate industry has known for a long time – location is everything.  Many factors influence the price of property but in the end, location is fixed and according to Elton Ash of Re/Max “The location is always critical. The location is directly tied to price. Nothing beats location. Ever.”

So what about other industries?  Absolutely for many.

Geo-industry analysts predict returns to strong economic growth in 2010 for technology companies in the sector while broader based technology gurus are consistently recognizing the importance of location within other technology products and services.  Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch puts “Geo” in second spot in his prediction of technologies that will have a significant impact in 2010.  He points to the recent Twitter acquisition of Mixer Labs, creator of the GeoAPI as evidence that tech companies see geolocation capability as a must have in their products and services.

My opinion is that increasingly opportunities will exist for geo technology companies to leverage their expertise in markets outside their traditional areas of business.  The challenge will be to identify the real opportunities from the fluff.  Many of the opportunities will look quite different from traditional location based markets and the winners will be the ones who can figure out how to structure themselves to match the market requirements.

So how do you go about creating a dialogue between technical experts and those who may be able to benefit from the technology in question whether they realize it or not?

Location Intelligence Conference 2009

Location Intelligence Conference bridges this gap and creates dialogue.   LI 2009 has come and gone, in the process offering a wide ranging presentation of location technology trends and their application.

While not the opening talk, Jeff Christensen’s (Rhiza Labs) presentation entitled “Designing Simple Tools for Powerful Analysis” framed the discussion when he reminded those in attendance that ultimately data is used to tell stories and make decisions.  Regardless of complexity of the solution or the technology applied, the end goal is the same.

From a technology perspective, LI 2009 opened with Steve Coast founder of OpenStreetMap describing the phenomenal growth of the crowd sourced alternative to Navteq and TeleAtlas street network data.  As much as anything OpenStreetMap is a reminder that new paradigms can lead to technology advances and amazing new applications.

Cloud computing was a recurring theme throughout the conference with various speakers offering their expert opinion and hands on experience with cloud computing.  Discussion touched on cloud computing concepts, benefits, technical challenges and trends.  A particularly interesting presentation by Mark Sundt described the development of Appistry’s CloudIQ that provides a cloud solution for clients who want the benefits of cloud services but want to deploy it in their own data centres.

On the application side presentations covered the spectrum of location technology application from the complex with John Bennett (Hunt Energy IQ) describing Hunt Energy IQ’s work to integrate a range of sensors to develop green intelligent buildings where it is possible to calculate and manage energy costs in real time through the role of IP location information at the foundation of Examiner.com (Dave Shafer, Co-Founder and COO) allowing them to provide users with hyperlocal news content.

Three days of presentations, panel discussions and individual conversations provided a basket load of information on location technologies and their application.

My takeaways from LI 2009:

  1. Confirmation that location intelligence technologies continue to evolve and offer opportunity for new applications, and
  2. Successful applications of location intelligence technology consistently exhibit clear understanding and very specific use of technology regardless of the simplicity or complexity of the technology.