What will it take for LBS to take the next step?

Location Based Services can provide many benefits to consumers. Generally, it involves answering 2 questions: how do I get to where I want to go? And once there, what kind of personalized services can be offered? One of the major issues is identifying precisely where someone is, in order to be able to offer them services that are specific to their location. The importance of location is emphasized by the commonly coined phrase in business ‘location location location’.


Rao and Minakakis, in their paper on LBS, identify 4 major issues in the implementation of this technology. While I agree with their assertion, I feel like the major issue is that access is not equally distributed among all population groups. While many phones have 3G now, not everyone owns these phones. Also, different phones may have different precisions, enabling different levels of services to be offered. Of course, another issue is privacy. If I want to purchase a phone with high precision capable of offering me more services, should this necessarily mean that I have to surrender my location? This comes back to the question of if you are alright with a machine knowing information about you.


Business models will also become crucial in the large scale application of LBS, an industry that is sure to have increasingly large revenues. Of course, the models will have to be sustainable and take into account the caveats listed above. LBS has the potential to combine with many other fields of GIScience to provide an augmented life experience of the future, but only if implemented correctly.


Pointy McPolygon


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