What are location based services (LBS)? LBS are a way for service providers to let the user know what’s going on around him.
What is required for LBS to work? A mobile device with location based capabilities (GPS, preferably), a service provider that will provide the content, and an internet connection to be able to receive said content.
For example – let’s say you’ve just arrived in Barcelona. You get to your hotel, put your bags and head out to see the city. How will you know where to go (without planning ahead)? Which places are worth seeing? Which neighborhoods are too residential?
That’s where location based apps come in – you take your phone out, and use Google maps to search for the nearest place to eat, drink or catch a show. Since Google maps knows where you are, it can tell you what’s around you. And if an app knows your likes and dislikes, it can even provide you with tailored recommendations, based on previous interactions, or users similar to you.
There are a few specific examples of LBS – Waze and Yelp are the probably the most successful implementation of this.
In Waze’s case, a user base of around 11 million “wazers” provides never-ending updates about the roads in the area you’re driving in. The result is a steady influx of information that is relevant to the people driving these roads – information like; traffic, accidents, police speed-traps etc. The driver benefits by becoming extremely aware of what’s going on around him, and most importantly, ahead of him. Not only will Waze provide you with that information, it will also take these pieces of information into account when providing you with a navigation route to your destination.
Yelp is another demonstration of location and crowdsourcing, but with a totally different service. Yelp provides information about local business – so if you are looking for a local tailor, or want to know the best restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, Yelp can provide you with that information. But Yelp’s real strength lies in the reviews and feedback users provide it with, allowing for quick access to this stream of data about the places near you and their ratings.
Besides location crowdsourcing services (like Waze and Yelp), there are other ways LBS can be benefit consumers: Foursquare, is a social network – one that is built around users interacting with each other based on their location using their smartphones.
HearPlanet, is an app that enables the user to listen to recorded tours about the location they’re in – it’s like having a tour guide wherever you are. One of the most initial uses for LBS has been the weather – applications like AccuWeather are able to tell you the weather where you’re located – though it may seem basic, this service could not have been possible just 6-7 years ago.
So what are location based services? they’re services that provide you with information about the location you are in. If you’ve been living in the same place for 50 years, you probably won’t need them to learn anything new – but the next time you venture out (overseas, or not), download a couple of location aware apps to help you learn and experience more about your surroundings.
One last thing. All location based services use the web to provide you with the information you need. If you’re going abroad, the roaming charges will cost you quite a bit. Grab one of our international data SIM cards and save yourself the hundreds of dollars on all your travel data needs.