What are Geo-locators and Location based services? Geolocation refers to the method of identifying the actual Geographical location of a Computer on the internet or

Location based services: What does the future hold?

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What are Geo-locators and Location based services?
Geolocation refers to the method of identifying the actual Geographical location of a Computer on the internet or a visitor on your site or even that of a mobile device. Location Based Services (in this context) refers to applications that makes use of GPS on mobile device and allows you to check in to venue and places.

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lbs

Examples of Location Based services (LBS)

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  • Yelp
  • Google Places and Latitude
  • Foursquare
  • Gowalla
  • SCVNGR
  • Food Spotter
  • Bizzy
  • Whrrl
  • Facebook Places

Intro to Geo-Locators (Location based services)
While researching this post, the question I got from most people is; Would it ever work in Nigeria? Here’s a pointed response that I received from a mobile software engineer:

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“I don’t use anything (any location based service) and in my humble opinion it of no value to us Africans due to lack of GPS phones and no business model.”

While testing the GPS service on my Nokia E71, some of my friends kept asking if I thought that geo-locators have benefits in Nigeria. With all I discovered, I decided it was not worth writing this post. On second thoughts though, I decided to share my findings. Someone out there could be as curious as I am to wonder why businesses are not using location based services.

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Benefits of LBS
LBS can be valuable to both users and businesses. There is need, however for more users to have access to mobile devices that are equipped with GPS in order to benefit from any offer via the different LBS services available.

There is also need for business models to be available to help businesses tap into LBS.

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Following are some benefits, assuming that there are available users and a viable business model included by the owners of the location based application.

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Benefits to Business

  • You can build brand advocates and ambassadors
  • You can gain new customers
  • Enhance audience intelligence
  • Retain customers by rewarding their advocacy

Benefits to users

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  • Enjoy Discounts and deals
  • Find venue easily if you are in a new location
  • Make use of recommendations by several users before deciding, eg reviews of an hotel
  • Take part in games and challenges that rewards you

There is an underlying factor given by sceptics, than can hinder the acceptance of LBS even if we have more GPS enable mobile devices. That would be privacy. You carry your mobile with you everywhere you go, when you start using location based service, it can pose some security risk.

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I have been playing around with Google latitude and Foursquare for a while now, just out of curiosity. There are certainly some benefits that I have derived. I was to go to a restaurant at Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja, but did not know the exact number. So instead of getting there and asking passers-by, I pulled out my Nokia E71, launched Google maps, checked for the place and found it.

If you are a business, you should go ahead and claim your spot on the Google map by going to Google Places. This would improve your search rank on google search.

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There you have it. Have you toyed around with any location based serviced recently? What did you find?

What do you think location based services would have for businesses in Nigeria and Africa as we have more people on mobile than on computer web? Would you be trying anyone out soon?

P.S: here is a mail I got from a user in Germany:

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Hey Jesse,

Nice talking to you! I’m using location based services at first ’cause it makes fun! But second I kind of have to – I’m a social media editor and we’ve to try every new trend.

I think LBS have a lot of potential especially for small local business. they can try many different deals or specials to “catch” new costumer. I really do hope there will be a lot of different offers in future. Right now it isn’t that much – although I live in Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany.

Well, I use it the way it is meant to be, I guess. When I arrive at one location I try to locate it on Foursquare and check in. Sometimes there’s an offer and sometimes not. At this time I have had only small deals like a drink for free or extra popcorn or toppic and stuff like that.

Greetz from Hamburg!
Janine

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  2. The most I’ve come to any LBS was using Samsung’s LBS Route 66 system on my previous phone. I was discouraged by the cost [it required an internet connection], and the fact that many places in Abuja were not represented.

    Lately, I’ve been using Ovi Maps whenever I’m on the road. Like I commented in http://mobility.com.ng/2011/02/24/ovi-maps-brief-test-abeokuta/, it helped me a lot in Lagos.

    Still, I wish Nokia would update their map of Nigeria. Ilesha bridge in Lagos [I was told it was built 2 years ago] is absent on Ovi Maps, along with several important landmarks in Abuja.

    I didn’t know one could use Google Maps/Places on Symbian phones. I’m browsing it now, and will give it a try as soon as possible.

  3. I just checked Google Maps right now. Their map of Abuja is much more updated than Nokia/Ovi.

  4. spacyzuma,

    Interesting. Google map is a matured product. Google mobile app is one of the most downloaded app by iPhone users in the US. the more people use it, the more Google would have access to data that can help them innovate more products for local use.

    This is the reason why I have often said, social is the business of the future, and with mobile, we can carry our social with us any where we go. Users help generate data when they interact with certain applications.

  5. My fears are really those of security. And that was well mentioned in the article. I just feel like one is just advertising one’s position away when you Location Based services like foursquare for instance. Or when you are not at home fOr a thief to juggle a home. Just yesterday, a distAnt friend was kidnapped.

    LBS may only become useful when the security situation in Nigeria improves tremendously!

  6. yup, you said it all. but everything starts little you know, Nov 2010 i was in Abuja and had to rely on ovi map to save routes, locate fuel stations and was able to share my location and also was able to locate guys who shared their location online.
    My point exactly is; I was able to locate fuel stations and thats an inprovement already, next we’ll be able to lacate salons, pine wine joints, and so on. At least i use it to track lil cousins phone thank you very much

  7. Businesses should really make use of this to advertise their businesses.

    With well refined settings I believe location based services is also very useful for individuals.

    Can I search for and get direction to Mobility Ikeja office using Ovi Maps.

  8. I am a student of gis (geographic info system) and really, location and socials is the future. There is nothing you will want to do that won’t require those two. Marketing, liesure, planning , construction, security and even religous activities. Lbs is yet to be appreciated because internet and smartphone cost.though our carriers are begining to slash internet rates but we are not there yet. May be in another 5years when there will be like 5-7 submarine cables connecting nigeria . The fun in geo based services is when its felt at the grass roots. I can open an app on my sgs, raise the phone as if I want to snap the view in front of me and the details regarding every lbs including their location and distance away from me will b displayed on my screen. I can carry the phone 360degrees and it will be giving me such details as located in the areas the ? is facing. It makes life much easier. No need for asking people anything of doing the guessing game. I have once used google latitude to easily locate my wife in the busy balogun market. We all know how crazy that market can be and imagine if we had to be calling trying to locate ourselves…two people in an unknown crowded territory.

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