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In ‘A critical evaluation of location based services and their potential’, Raper et al. explore the current state of location based services (LBS) research, proposing a research agenda moving forward. Drawing from a robust list of publications the article ends with a table detailing a non-exhaustive list of topics of significance in the topic, almost a third of the items are categorized as urgent clearly indicating that this young field of research has a ways to go before finding its feet.

In LBS, location information and other data are used to create value-added consumer/user experiences – we live in and move through space making LBS a field full of potential.From the dizzying list of topics covered, my attention was drawn towards two in particular: the use of tracking in LBS and mobile cartography.

In tracking analysis the key objective is to use the inference of past travel behavior to allow for the prediction of real-time destinations, learning previous patterns of movement to inform estimations of future ones. With this powerful technology legal protection for users in terms of privacy is crucial. I was alarmed to encounter through this reading the concept of geoslavery, and work is required to explore this concept of location control. In terms of mobile cartography, the authors highlighted a need for adaptations of cartographic presentations to mobile screen displays. Although information can be provided via audio, geovisualization remains the central vehicle of communication for LBS devices.

When this article was first published, the first generation of the iPhone had just hit the market, I would be intrigued to learn of how this article would read given our current context. The iPhone 6 boasts a screen so large it struggles to fit in most decently sized pockets, a technological development that will propel the dialogue presented by Raper in a new direction – both in terms of mobile cartography and that of larger questions within the field of LBS. I do wonder though: are technological advances sufficient to address the legal issues surrounding LBS?

– Othello

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