GIS Thoughts

LBS when ?

I was part of a panel today at the The Mobility Summit an event organised by the European Technology Forum and Cnet Networks. The panel discussed the emergence of more precisely the lack of emergence of Location Based Services as a section of the mobile data industry.

The point I argued, as I have before, is that as long as LBS applications are more difficult to access, and provide no more information, than asking a passer-by in the street they will fail to become mainstream. This is really disappointing as all the necessary components are in place to deliver really useful mobile portals customised to met the needs of the use based on their location.

Imagine switching on your mobile phone and been presented with, the local weather, traffic conditions, train departures from the closest station and your nearest ATM etc, all without having to click through many complex menus, pressing keys multiple times etc.

From the users perspective, the complexity of currently using LBS is a real issue, although as Sean Phelan from pointed out, cost is a big problem… would multimap, streetmap, google maps etc have had the success they have had so far, if they users had been charged 25p a go !

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

2 replies on “LBS when ?”

Just thought that I would report that as a Tokyo resident involved in web mapping I completely mistook your title to mean something different. Part of the reason is that over here in Japan we call it “GPS” rather than satnav. Pretty much everybody has one in their car. I think that most new cars (even inexpensive ones) come equipped one these days. My point is that I thought you meant the end of 2D vector maps. Over here in Japan you can buy satnavs with satellite image data on board (these things are harddisk based). So instead of “maps” you are looking at sat pictures in 3D. I do have some experience in this area as my company just released JetStream-3D. You can see a preview at

The reliance on in car nav is fine but it is paramount that the data is up-to-date. For instance unless a new address is put into the data fairly quickly, the system is no longer going to work the way you have become to rely on i.e. 100% instructions. The system will then only be able to get you close to your destination and of course this assumes that you know a destination close by, since you do not carry a map! The last part of your journey then becomes difficult, relying on asking for directions, which can be hit or miss as people generally take sometime in becoming familiar with new names in their neighbourhood.

If you are travelling some distance, in to unfamiliar territory and the unthinkable happens, system failure. The old analogue printed map comes to the fore and saves the day, but of course you do not need those anymore do you!

And finally, a whole new generation will be spawned of people who have no knowledge of how to read maps because they have relied on being told how to get where they want to go. A balance should be struck between the two.

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