Location everywhere

Already for some time I have wanted to write about indoor positioning. Since Indoor positioning is going to be a future direction for a number of fields, including GIS. I had collected articles and did my research. And then yesterday by following another post (on big data, food, and visualization) I end up at a (Dutch) post from Numrush: “Indoor navigation system Wifarer announces first customer” [My translations, EK]. Author Johan Voets states in his post exactly what I wanted to tell you in my blog: “Indoor navigation. It sounds a bit unnatural, but it is definitely a fast growing market.”

In my earlier blogs on the fast developing GIS market I already indicated that mobile devices, such as smart phones, offer great possibilities. On a post from envisioningtech the location awareness is mentioned in the context of new sensors. The article uses the term “planned spontaneity”, as where – based on earlier experiences – your system takes decisions, based on a certain context. And yes this context does include location too.

The four elements

In another recent study Latitude mentions the 4 I’s: “four elements—the ‘4 I’s’—that will continue to play a significant role in our experiences with narrative-based media”. Immersion, interactivity, integration, and impact. To cite their report even further: “Immersion and interactivity primarily help an audience to go deeper into a story, while integration and impact are about bringing a story of out of the screen, into our actual lives.”

Location based services can play a major role in experiencing the 4 I’s. What if we can offer extra experience based on the current location? From my background as an art historian and travel guide I think I can say something about this story telling effect here too. People want to go around through a town or a museum and as a guide you need to be pointing out the particularities of a certain object or view. Applications that do so already exist in “open air” situations. And also many musea offer you the possibilities for an online guided tour. I have seen over the last years many of these wonderful initiatives.

But in musea we still see people typing in coded numbers on devices in order to receive the stories and the context. The Indoor Geo Database will include many Points Of Interest. And our smart algorithm will select the right combination of these POI for the current context. Many stories to tell, and based on your interest I can show you the same museum in a number of different ways.

“will people even indoors use the smartphone to navigate?”

Voets ends his post with “The question is: will people even indoors use the smart phone to navigate?”. My answer is clear, Yes they will. And Indoor Positioning is not only to be used in a museum or cultural context. What if I could go through a department store where my smart phone shows me the latest gadgets and offers, based on my recent online searches? Or maybe the system could combine earlier experiences and show me something real life that I was looking for a month ago.

Does this sound scary, or do you see the new possibilities? Like I said before I see new, and serious applications of this technology, in many different fields.

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Thoughts on Mobile Geo Apps

Everyone following the tech-news in the last week must have stumbled over the new Apple Mapping application in iOS6. In about a week time we have seen an increase in the social media on the hash-tags “map” and “geo” in combination with “mobile”. This is a reason for me to write something about this subject.

It looks like many people are just finding out now that mapping is work for professionals and should not be taken too lightly. Making navigation software and the maps that come with it has many pitfalls. The one-way street that causes the long detour, the cycle or bus lane (complete with a small barrier) as connection between 2 street parts that cannot be crossed by car, the viaduct or tunnel that is invisible. Many volunteers that have worked (for more than 8 years already) on OpenStreetMap know how much work it is.

But not just navigation systems are using your geo-location. And not all geo apps will show you a map or a current location. There are more and more apps that use your location for numerous reasons.

Users and Geolocation

In May 2012 a number of media reported that “74 percent of US smartphone owners use the device to get real-time location-based information”. This was based on the outcomes of Pew Internet Research, and only figures for the US were given. These outcomes, and the increase since it was measured the year before, show the growing interest in location based information. Naturally we should not forget the number of people that do not know how to switch the feature off… At the same time we also see the growing awareness of people that have privacy concerns, as a study from ISACA that was published around the same time shows.

Increase in Mobile Applications using Geo

In relation to the studies mentioned above we have seen an increase in mobile mapping applications on smartphones over the last years. Many of these apps are caused by the rapid growth of mobile devices of course. But it is also the attractiveness of the maps and how images can be used to enhance other content, that drives developers to work on apps that use images. I believe this direction is good. And in short time the professional applications can benefit from the lessons learned by the app developers.

Not only in the field of the navigation and the social media we can expect new developments if it comes to location based services. There are many more fields where we can apply location. Like in the field of GIS where we see a fast growing number of users from different fields, we will see that many new apps will find out that knowing the location opens new opportunities.

But that is something for my next post…

“2012 is the year of GIS”

@GISuser tweeted some readings on GIS this week. In the readings an article with the promising title: “$3.7 Billion Reasons Why GIS Technology is The Future” is posted at SpaceDaily.com. The post refers to a quote from Dr. Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University saying that “2012 is the year of GIS”. The article has some nice statements about the GIS market and the job outlook for Geo informaticians, and the necessity to train people now to fill all the job positions. And yes I agree with this quote and the reasons Stephen McElroy comes to this! GIS (or as I prefer Geo Informatics) is “pervasive technology”.

Location is everywhere

The last decade we have seen a clear market shift where hand drawing the assets of many companies has been rapidly replaced by geo-locations in the companies’ databases. Maintenance of these systems has become a core business for IT firms. So not only within the companies that collect and keep up the data we can see a growing market potential, also in the surrounding areas there is a rapidly growing market. SpaceDaily.com mentions the Pike Research report that sums up the market to $3.7 billion in 2017. Don’t we all want our share in that?

In the article governments are mentioned as one of the main users of Geo Technology. The use and presentations of Geo Information shows a clear shift here too. The request for up-to-date information by the citizens has forced many organizations, with governments in the front row, to shift towards publicly available geo data.

Media and technology

Mobile devices, telling you every single moment where you are, and what happens at this specific location drive the geo awareness of people. And we cannot do anything else other than act. The technology will drive us faster and faster, the growth in the number of geo apps shows this clearly.

Envisioningtech.com earlier this week published their wonderful infograph “Envisioning emerging technology, for 2012 and beyond”, there is references to technologies depending on Geo informatics in there, but no direct mentioning of the field of Geo Informatics. Geo has grown fast, and we are in a steep climb, everyone knows geo from daily use, but as a field it still needs a lot of marketing.  Stephen McElroy is right when he talks about the need for education (and students) saying: “industries are looking for people who understand GIS technology”.

There is a clear and fast growing dot on the geo-horizon and it is still 2012!