October 22, 2005
For those not yet aware of the technology that is playing an increasingly important role in expanding the globally ‘connected’ community and shrinking the distance between all of us, the term Location Based Services (LBS) describes the instantaneous delivery of information, to and from people or devices, based on their geographical location.
Enabled by the integration of various complementary technologies (e.g. GPS – global positioning system receivers, Mobile phones & networks, Wireless computer-based networks, digital street maps), LBS are intended to allow you to send and receive information on-demand based on where you are on this planet (or where you want to be). Don’t worry too much about the technical terms just yet, there are plenty of articles for you to explore on this site to gain a better understanding of these over time.
For now, however, as a practical example of one form of LBS, think of the many online street directory websites in which you can type a starting location and a destination. These sites are built upon a digital version of the same street directory most of you have in the back seat of your cars. With a few key strokes you are able to get turn-by-turn instructions on how to get from A to B.
Take that up a level and now imagine that instead of typing in your current location, your computer already knows this. Your computer (or mobile phone / PDA / whatever little electronic toy you like to carry in your pocket) has either a GPS receiver, Wireless network card or mobile phone built into-it.
By various means and with varying levels of accuracy, each of these devices can approximate your latitute and longitude. Your location can then be cross-referenced with a digital street directory and voila! You now have access to a whole new world of information of relevance to where you are. Little do you know it, but now that your handy piece of electronic wizardry can find you, it can also help you to download information on all sorts of topics relating to where you are or where you want to explore. Even better, it allows you to communicate and collaborate with other people based on their location as well.
Think – “Where is the nearest toilet, I’m busting!?” or “Where the hell are you, Johnny?”
Let’s not get too far just yet into the issues you are no doubt considering about privacy.
“That’s scary! I don’t want people to know where I am all the time.”
Rest assured that, as with your Internet access right now, you CAN protect your privacy (contrary to a lot of scare mongers out there). Just because your faithful electronic friend knows where you are doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone else.
Its just yours and gizmo’s secret. If you want it to be.
Ok, now let’s move on and explore some of the impressive developments in this emerging community. Follow the links to the right of this page to explore the world of Location Based Services.