Posts Tagged ‘LBS’

Laughing But Serious…

Monday, November 17th, 2014

This article from Raper et al. (2007) identifies main research issues within the field of Location Based Services (LBS), which includes sciences and technologies involving LBS, matter concerning LBS users and also the aspect regarding legal, social and ethical issues with LBS. Majority of the article covers distinct domains of sciences and technologies research areas connected to LBS and it is well established how wide range of subjects are associated with LBS. It was very rich and informative on that matter, but one can recognize some aspects being reappeared frequently on distinct subjects, such as visualization, users, ubiquity, etc. Unfortunately, specific differences were not elaborated and therefore it sounds repetitive, and difficult to differentiate if one was reading about whether GIScience or Spatial cognition, since it could have been either, and therefore it became tedious at some point.


As for the paragraphs where user issues are being discussed, it seems like many subjects were not being mentioned, such as VGI, managing geospatial data after its immediate use, etc. However, that was mainly because this article was written in 2007, when the Smartphone with GPS receiver capabilities and wireless broadband internet features were yet to be distributed among population as present date. On the other hand, it seemed like Raper et al. believed that it is only natural and obvious for the LBS to replace the traditional paper map, which was a controversial subject in GEOG 506: “LBS have to ‘substitute’ existing analogue approaches, e.g. the use of cheap, durable and easy-to-use paper maps for the most part…”. However, even today, lot of people still use paper maps despite the fact that they carry a smartphone that has a perfectly fine GPS receiver function, including myself. On the other hand, it is slowly but surely being replaced by less-analogue technologies for the majority of population who can afford it.


In the legal, social and ethical dimensions section, the authors consider the potential for surveillance and the exercise of power over individual movement as a negative effect, whereas the potential to guide people and the new social possibilities regarding LBS is positive implication. However, as we have discussed in class, this is just a mere perception from a particular culture or perhaps it is somewhat an individualistic view, rather than a representative perspective of a culture as a whole.

What can be defined as positive and/or negative?  It is all relative….again….sigh


Try and Find Me

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Rao and Minakakis wrote on the current (in 2004) and future state of location-based services (LBS). In their article, they touched on the growing interest in LBS, the requirements for growth, and the types of LBS. While 2004 was not too long ago, nine years is eons for modern technology, and I’m curious how much has changed since. Nonetheless, it is a clear and well-written piece that thoroughly scans over the important aspects of a field that stands at the heart of modern GIS applications.

Until now, my understanding of LBS has been primarily based in how advertisers could market goods and services to targeted individuals who are in an optimal location to be influenced. Thus, my naïveté had resulted in a cynical view of LBS and its exploitative power. However, it is clear that the field encompasses more than marketing; it serves navigation and personalization functions, as well.

Beyond the technical issues regarding positional accuracy, I am also leery of the privacy concerns inherent in any LBS. In the case of personalization, many consumers may opt in to various services for convenience or for a novel experience (i.e. because it’s cool). But there are countless times when consent to be (essentially) “followed” is given as part of something completely unrelated. For instance, Facebook will show advertisements based in the location of the user’s IP address. Considering the easy accessibility of ad-block software, I would not be surprised if advertisers aim for more explicit consent in the future, likely stressing the convenience and novelty aspects of personalization in a positive spin of location exploitation.

– JMonterey

LBS: Ideas lost to time and tech advances

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

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.).



Temporal geographic information: a work in progress

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The importance of time in Geography has become more relevant for me as I began working on my research project. It was helpful to read Langran and Chrisman’s (1988) article. In a way I was comforted to relate to some of the issues with regards to dealing with time, but at the same time felt discomfort that these issues are still around. We live in a digital geographic world, as sah mentioned in their post. Andrew stated PPGIS and HCI display the issues that arise when using Google applications. Currently dealing with the LBS and open-source world where everything is rapidly changing, new versions of software quickly replacing the old, past problems quickly become obsolete. However, I have learned from this article that time, like other fundamental concepts in Geography, is different. It is still a timely (no pun intended) issue. So how do we go about dealing with mapping time, along with theme and location (1)? Although still in its early stages, the Ushahidi platform may fulfill the requirement of being “a temporal database that makes the time dimension accessible to users” in  the example give by the Ghana Waters initiative (2).

The space-time composite section reminded me of the problem of overlaying a polygon layer created in ArcMap. For example, a geographer decided to represent suburbs of a city by digitally drawing polygons. If they want to display this as a choropleth map, displaying crimes throughout the city, they can do so. However, over time, the boundaries of suburbs may change, thus a new layer must be created to ensure timely accuracy of the theme and space that is represented. I believe the advantage of having Google Earth now, as opposed to 1988, is that we can integrate conventional software databases like ArcGIS with user-friendly, interactive virtual globes to try and solve time related problems. Altering between suburb overlay choropleths from one time period to another can be done by checking a box. Creating a time-lapse animation could be a possible solution to static images that “do not represent the events that change one state to the next” (8). It’s still a work in progress, however, the less constraints we have when dealing with more philosophical and abstract concepts such as time (and ofcourse, ontologies), the better.

-henry miller

LBS and User-Centric Design

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Location-based services (LBS) have already been widely utilized in daily life. By this means, users become both geospatial data providers and the information consumers. In the paper of Jiang et al. 2006, authors point out the LBS should be designed in a user-centric way. As LBS is a developing research field that includes the study of geospatial cyberinfrastructure, information technology, social theories, and data mining, we should take a careful look at the user-centric design in order to improve LBS.

Mobile technologies have contributed a lot geospatial data for LBS. With the development of wireless network, geospatial data, including image data, test message, voice data, and spectral information that are collected with different mobile sensors, can be easily shared over the Internet. But the large data volume becomes another challenge in LBS research; especially of user-centric design. First, not all the data contributed by user are equally useful for knowledge discovery and decision-making. So data mining techniques are necessary and it should also be supported by the geospatial cyberinfrastructure which is not directly visible for end users. Secondly, due to the large scale data and their temporal attributed, real-time computing are usually utilized to guarantee the performance of LBS is satisfying. Moreover, the limited resource of mobile devices require geospatial cyberinfrastructure at the backend to provide functionalities such as data storage, statistical analysis, visualization, to name a few examples here. All those functionalities should be kept transparent to the users, which further complicated the user-centric design research in LBS.

Another point I want to indicate here is the lack of standard criteria for evaluating LBS. As new technologies bring pervasive computing concepts in LBS, how to measure and evaluate the performance of LBS systems are great challenges in the future study.



Friday, March 2nd, 2012

I have heard much about location based services lately and prior to reading this paper had merely thought of it as Google Maps on a smartphone. It was interesting to read more about it and the issues it faces particularly that of privacy and surveillance. As my pseudonym suggests, I enjoy being outside not merely because it is nicer than being inside but partly because nobody knows where I am when I go outside and go hiking or canoeing etc. As mentioned in class, few people recognize location privacy and freedom and fewer still realize is being lost.

Before the advent of cell phones and the internet, if someone wanted to find out where you were going they needed to ask you. Today, they may not need to. They could just see if they have you on Foursquare, if you’ve updated your Twitter location or posted your plans of Facebook. Who says they even need to be good friends to be able to do this? You may have met them once or twice at a school activity etc. and thought you might want to stay in touch with them but they now have access to a huge amount of information about you and particularly your location. This leads to the importance of privacy not only in relation to strangers but perhaps also to acquaintances; you may have met them but do you really want them aware of your every move, literally?

Privacy with respect to strangers, institutions, governments etc. is even harder to obtain as these bodies do not need to know you to obtain your information. In the case of governments and institutions, they may obtain it by attempting to order it be given to them by the companies. In the case of strangers, hacking is not uncommon. It seems to me with one’s location being updated and distributed online or even via a phone, it would be all too easy for someone to follow that person, learn their habits etc. and could be dangerous to their personal security.

The Yao article mentions there are efforts in place to try to create frameworks for increasing security but that these have so far been limited with few studies performed. I feel that much more time and energy should be put into increasing security but that perhaps users should be educated on privacy issues from a young age when they begin using LBS technology so that they are aware of exactly how accessible the information they post online may be to those who are looking for it.

-Outdoor Addict

Disappearing Buildings!

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The two assigned topics for Friday’s class are relevant to one another. It can be so frustrating when trying to search for a place, store or location on a smart phone. Depending where you are, how zoomed in you are and especially the spelling, the results can have huge amount of variance.

The other day I was searching for The Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, but my phone was incapable of finding my query. I had successfully performed the search before, but for some unknown reason, it no longer existed. Perhaps the disappearance of the Habs’ practice facility could explain their recent woes…

Jiang’s article on LBS provokes a question: Does a feature in a landscape possess different coordinates if it is a point, or does it have different extents (if a polygon) depending on the scale? For example, at a global scale, Montreal might appear as a point feature, but at a larger scale it may instead be a polygon. Does each map of a certain scale possess the address and location for different features? This seems redundant; but perhaps necessary right now. I can imagine that one feature could potentially hold different types of representations. When a certain type of representation is required, it could simply be called upon instead of having repetitions within the database.

I am sometimes concerned about privacy with regards to LBS, but more impressed with how internet searches have become more efficient with the integration of LBS. There are positives and negatives, and at this point, I’m not so concerned with people knowing my exact location. I really enjoy how in GEOG 201, it was mentioned that Google’s goal was to integrate all searches into a map-like interface. Four years later, I can definitely see this as a possibility. It was a little foreign to me at the time, but I am able to see that almost everything has a spatial component to it.


LBS and Naive Users (A.K.A. Me)

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I must say I appreciated Bin Jiang and Xiaobai Yao’s article “Location-based services and GIS in perspective” a great deal for the myriad ways it helped to explain LBS technology in light of GIS science’s research agenda, particularly given how ubiquitous they are in our everyday lives right now. The key section, to me at least, is where the authors argue that these technologies tend to be “generally oriented to naive users” (719) because potentially everyone might be a user some day. In a nutshell, that naive user is me but with one important caveat. I do not own an IPhone, tablet, IPad or any other generally accepted form of LBS technology. While I’d like to think I’m relatively sophisticated in using modern, online technology, I simply can’t bring myself to buy any kind of tablet because I’m not able to distinguish how my using it would be different from using my computer. Generally, as cell phones go, I’m that guy who walks into the store and demands the cheapest, most-unbreakable phone I can get. Perhaps I’m old, but a phone should be a phone and nothing more, by my way of thinking.

So I found this paradigm of the naive user engaging with LBS technology particularly interesting when the authors got into discussing how research into “spatial ontologies”  and “geographic representation” could be closely tied into work on LBS platforms. The authors approach it from the perspective that such research can help to “set up a common ontology for LBS for knowledge sharing among diverse users” (718). This might be one direction such a flow could be viewed: previously developed ontologies of geographic space shaping the manner in which LBS networks/devices display such information. But, I would think such a flow might move in the opposite direction too, in that many LBS users might influence definitions of geographic space according to how they use their devices. As the authors note, aspects of spatial cognition will be very important to LBS device design (719). Or, put simply, naive folks like me will want simple ontological definitions so they can understand/use these devices better.

But, let’s remember to put this in perspective. Not everyone uses these devices the same way and people like me have taken themselves out of the game entirely. So, how do designers define ontologies that fit all of the diverse users around the globe? I know interoperability remains an important idea as we discussed with Renee’s talk about ontologies, but at what cost? Take this example: A little while ago, a friend took me on a kayaking trip around the Boston, MA harbor islands. He did not bring a map. After a long day, we found ourselves still on the water in the dark searching for the island where we could camp. We knew we were close but his IPhone was on the blink – at least as far as its star charts, GIS, and map technologies were concerned. Needless to say, he was not pleased. For my part, I found it amusing he thought such devices would work on the ocean (albeit still within 5 miles of shore).

Perhaps just a technological infrastructure issue – but the point is still the same. If we’re thinking about defining standards for the information these devices display, what happens if our standards disenfranchise kayakers? More to the point, what about users in Africa who find landmarks such as a neighbor’s field more useful than street grids with names? The authors touch on this idea, but how do we allow naive users to generate data and give input on the ways these devices work as they become yet even more commonplace across the globe.


DISCLAIMER: My parents do both own complicated, new-fangled cell phones that allow many of these LBS functions. And, yes, I have used them many times and helped my parents figure out how to use them – since I somehow am a bit more adept than they.



Evolution and Emergence of LBS

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The challenges of LBS are incredibly interesting, and seem to me to encompass what many of the challenges within GIS are today: the limitations of the hardware, and the limitations of the user.  I particularly liked the term “naive user”, implying to me not just that the user doesn’t understand, but that they are adaptable to the technology available.  This coincides with the idea that context is important for LBS because of how the data is displayed and how people are taking it in.  The language, the visualizations—user interface seems like a highly evolving and necessarily important field.

Previously in class we were discussing how maps are evolving to meet the needs of users, as opposed to having users bend to the will of the map, so to speak.  I see LBS as a form of Maps of the 21st Century.  Constantly evolving with, contextualizing, re-contextualizing, adapting, and shaping the world and users around it, LBS takes the qualitative data and attempts to reinterpret it in a manner accessible and useful to many users.  However, I do agree with Madskiier_JWong when they suggest the user is in many cases passive—while technologies are working to evolve to needs of the user, it would appear that on-the-ground, the user is in many cases taking what is being provided.  It will be interesting to see how the technology evolves to incorporate real-time demands of multiple users and presents them uniquely to the variety of consumers.

Looking into LBS it seems that while an upcoming field, in practical application for the everyday user, it is still quite new, and just beginning to catch on with people, with regards to programs such as foursquare, the friend finder for mobile phones.  To me, this lack of immediate uptake on some forms of LBS references another important limitation the authors spoke of, that of privacy.  And not even necessarily that people can see where you are going and collect information from you, but that it is being built into devices where the default is to track your movements—it is not necessarily something you must seek out yourself.  I think as it gains popularity, however, the privacy issue will come to the forefront, and like with the internet, users will become more aware of their rights, how to properly protect their privacy, and where to draw the line.


Location Based Services (LBS) and Context

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Jiang and Yao’s (2006) paper discusses LBS as geographic data and services offered through mobile networks and the Internet to handheld devices and traditional terminals. They bring up major issues in LBS including context-based modeling, and conclude with this interesting line:

“The boundary [between GIS and LBS] could be even more blurry in the future    when conventional GIS advances to invisible GIS in which GIS functionalities are embedded in tiny sensors and microprocessors”. – Jiang and Yao, 2006

This line implies in part a passivity by the general public in determining what LB-information is served to them. Granted, users have indirect input in the form of how often they visit or search specific websites (influencing how algorithms determine your preferences), but the automating of deciding what to show can hinder geographic understanding. LBS has significant power in conditioning our spatial cognition (e.g. people viewing cities as gridded and ruled by roads in North America thanks to Google Maps). The authors describe context-based modeling as a hierarchical categorization of the environment that is updated on-the-fly. It would be interesting to allow the user to assign priority to specific features of a context to optimize the use of limited computing resources; a billboard advertiser may be more interested in up-to-date information on how often busses pass by his ad than the amount of foot traffic on the same street. This also introduces active decision-making by users and is probably more practical as a blend of intelligent human input and technical ability of computers for context-based modeling. My main concern is that sensors typically provide point-specific data for location, and struggle with describing the space around them. Such a view can lead to tunnel-visioning or reductionism into Start-Point, End-Point. Incorporating context is needed for understanding the spatial interrelationships of features.

As a side note, the extent to which users can search for specific things is likely to increase exponentially as our world becomes increasingly sensor-filled. This brings up the debate of how to appropriately restrict and limit access to LBS.   

– Madskiier_JWong

GCI: Quality over quantity

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Yang et al. (2010) have helped clarify the complexity of Geospatial Cybernetic Infrastructure (GCI). However, the field covers so much ground that, at times, I found it difficult to grasp. The definition and scope of GCI is very, very ambitious: to utilize data resources, network protocols, computing platforms, and services that create communities. These communities comprise of people, information, and technological tools, which are then brought together to “perform science or other data-rich applications in this information-driven world” (264). Furthermore, the objectives are vast, where responsibility is placed on many variables: social heterogeneity, data analysis, semantic web, geospatial middleware, citizen-based sciences, geospatial cloud computing, collaboration initiatives. With so much going on simultaneously, it should not come as a surprise that organization is one of the main challenges in GCI. Perhaps covering less ground may lead to higher quality progress.

Despite the many obstacles that GCI must overcome, the advancement of Location-Based Services (LBS) (especially mobile technology) and digital earths have shown the potential for GCI. They are largely ubiquitous due to their user-friendly interfaces. Along with such developments, the attractive end-user interface component is significant. However, should primarily be informative, not just pretty. “The geospatial Semantic Web is a vision in which locations and LBS are fully understood by machines” (268). I believe this vision should be extended to humans also understanding (as close to “fully” as possible) the meaning of the geospatial Semantic Web.

Qwiki is a platform that represents both the semantic web and information processing. A combination of intelligent agent (primary) and human participation (secondary), it is a dynamic, visually emphasized version of Wikipedia. Here we have a conglomeration of different areas, supporting the multi-disciplinary aspect that GCI aims in representing and also the challenge of “how to best present data and information from multiple resources” (268). Qwiki has the potential to help organize enormous amounts of geospatial data from different domains, resources, applications, and cultural backgrounds. That is, if the data becomes digitized. Even though I advocate for quality, I believe quantity in terms of data organization is key as it is the first step towards knowledge building: data to information to knowledge. Organized data, in turn, prepares for advances in other areas of GCI to meet the proposed objectives.

-henry miller