LBS – And What’s Next?


Recently came across this post by Ric Ferraro on LBS trends for 2009. Ric summarizes a number of – primarily commercial – issues and challenges that location based services will be facing next year.

Ric’s post also got me thinking further: As a concept and technology, LBS are now more than a decade old already. Many seem to agree nowadays that with the advent of commodity GPS phones, cell ID databases on the Web, open mobile OSes and progressing standardization on client-side location APIs, LBS are finally ready for a real, decent 1.0 release. But what might be in the next round of evolution for LBS? From a technological perspective? From a topical/feature point of view? A little bit of speculation from my side (split up in several posts – to keep posts shorter & to give me more time to think about the next post 😀 )…

Part 1: A Tad of Geospatial Knowledge Discovery

Most of us spend their time at the same handful of places day in and day out. It’s pretty obvious, really. Even if you don’t see it plotted on a map. But if you’re actually weird enough to track yourself (like me), it’s almost striking to see those focal points of your daily routine start to emerge on the map – your home, your daily commuting route, places you visit regularly after work, on the weekends and so on.

A personalized view of the world – the meanings behind locations – is something that LBS are lacking today: home and workplace, places linked to friends, family, or personal memories; places we plan to go in the future; or places we’d rather avoid. Some of these concepts are likely to change over time or due to external factors (such as our mode of transport, or things happening in our social network). In Geographic Information Science, the term geographic knowledge discovery (as one form of Spatial Analysis) refers to techniques for mining spatial information for interesting patterns.

My first speculation about what’s next in LBS is: we will increasingly see LBS that include geographic knowledge discovery approaches (at least in a simple form) to achive higher degree of personalization by inferring meaning from locations.

To be continued…

One Response to “LBS – And What’s Next?”

  1. It’s pretty interesting and a huge question what’s next for LBS… in my company we process a huge (hundred of thousands) of locations per day and we are facing the same question… since there are a lot of potential applications, we decided to walk the “cooperative path”…

    Currently we provide free data feeds for more than 10 different US cities in our website (, go to the developer zone and get the *.kmz feeds) and we are actively sharing information with universities and other companies in order to figure out which will be the next step in this area…

    Is it massive data crunching ?? mass movements for federal and state planning ?? the possibilities are unlimited. I hope we can get good ideas from independent developers, without the bias of the industry.

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