LBS: Ideas lost to time and tech advances

Charles Steinfield’s article, “the development of Location based Services…” is a great summation of location based services (LBS) in the first half of the last decade, however most of the trends and technologies have changed. For instance, the mention of growing “802.11b” wifi networks have gone the way of beta cassettes, mini-disc players and HD-DVDs (all of which I remember using). The article mostly seems to have a historical value to GIScience today, although it does present some of the burgeoning technologies in early generational development we use today in LBSs today. Most of what is mentioned as positioning technology for both indoor and outdoor LBS just seems too impractical and point infrastructure dependent (i.e. Expensive to maintain and maintenance intensive); probably the reason we do not use many of the technologies mentioned.

The application of LBS has matured to a state that any mobile device receives some sort of LBS and the use of LBS has grown beyond Steinfield’s imagination when writting the article. However, LBS although having its benefits, can now hinder what a person is looking for on there device because it provides local services first, rather than the service a user is looking for that may just be out of range.

The belief that Wifi may help LBS was a good point in the article but I believe it is becoming less relevant with 4G mobile networks (and 5G on the horizon) where GPS data in mobile devices (GPS now in all phones) and digital pinging of cell towers are able to communicate, with lightning speeds, resulting in better at predicting of location. That said the idea of security, privacy, and terms of use consent brought up by Steinfield    becomes relevant. Although I think these ideas are concerns, the ability to block location  are restrict location use by the user on most devices (iPhone, most androids) from LBS solves the issues of concern (It should be noted that GPS location services are always available for emergency uses; police, fire, etc.).



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