On Friday evening, I went along to the latest meeting of Geomob the developer community event created by Christopher Osborne focused on developments in what used to be called Location Based Services, but which now more sensibly people recognise as mobile applications of GEO technologies.
The key difference from the old days (2 years ago !!) of LBS, is that now the barrier to entry is much lower allowing the hacker community to really start to play and innovate without having to have huge resources behind them.
However despite technologies and services like Fire Eagle, Google Maps, OpenStreetMap/Cluodmade, there are still problems getting access to some types of information that would make mobile applications even more compelling, and yes I am talking about that old chestnut, access to public sector data sets.
The relevance of this to the community was demonstrated by the appreciation of the audience for the presentation given by Richard Allan of the Power of Information Task Force, who highlighted the well known issues with OS licensing practises.
For me these problems are demonstrated perfectly by the example of the new iPhone application National Rail.
This is a wonderful application, that is really useful providing real time train timetable information, and making use of location technology to automatically identify the closest station to you, and give you the timetable for trains to take you home.. very useful on a Friday night believe me..
The only problem is the cost, £4.99 which is expensive for an iPhone application where most commercial application cost less than a pound.
Why should the application cost anything? after-all surely the role of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) is too make it easy for people to use the trains, not to sell software.
I have a similar application on my iPhone produced by British Airways that allows me to look up their timetable.. it is free.
ATOC may argue that there are development costs, etc in releasing an application like this, well the solution to that is straight forward, make he timetable information available free for the Geomob developers to download, sit back and watch what happens !
Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.