Letï¿½s take a trip back to the late 1990s, right about the time when every thing connected to telecom was seemingly awash in money, and there was WAP, and with WAP there was the early promise of location-based services.
Who remembers this WAP enabled application? Youï¿½re walking down the street and, as you approach a Starbucks (or any other generic non-vendor-specific coffee house), suddenly, as if by magic, a coupon would appear on your cell phoneï¿½s screen, enticing you to stop in for a 50% discount on an otherwise overpriced Latte. This, my dear reader, was going to drive the future of mobile telephony.
I scoff a bit, as I remember those heady days. But location-based services vendors, having spent a few years operating under the radar, are once again making headlines.
One such vendor, MapInfo Corporation, recently released its MapInfo Professional version 8.5, the first version of the companyï¿½s location intelligence application with Web services connectivity. The solution is designed to enable users to access dynamic data available on the Internet and perform detailed analysis of information in a single environment to make better informed decisions about the location of assets, customers, constituents, and competition.
For example, retailers can view customer profiles in a selected location for improved trade area analysis. Service companies can receive real-time traffic conditions from Internet traffic feeds to help service personnel more efficiently reach customers.
Closer to home, MapInfoï¿½s solutions are very well received in the telco/MSO space. Using the companyï¿½s tools, service providers can design networks using GIS (geographic information system) and can take advantage of various information, such as rate and boundary data or franchise perimeters, to show carriers exactly where they can and should be building out. Wireless carriers can map exactly where their best coverage exists and deploy new equipment secure in the knowledge that itï¿½s going where itï¿½s most needed.
And carriers, always adept at collecting, analyzing, and acting upon consumer demographic data, can now utilize this mapped data as they look to build out triple play services, for example. Where are the customers who are most likely to spend money on this service? Where can I build out new infrastructure? Where should I build?
Another vendor making location-based services news is Telenity. And, some of the elements of the solution theyï¿½ve deployed with Indiaï¿½s state-owned telecom behemoth BSNL are eerily reminiscent of the applications we were talking about back in the late 90ï¿½s. Of course thereï¿½s some new stuff too.
Telenityï¿½s Canvas LES, (Location Enabling Server) and an initial suite of 14 location-based services will enable BSNL to offer personalized value-added location-based services to its mobile customers. This highly scalable location solution is expected to serve from approximately 14 million to 70 million subscribers, which would make it the worldï¿½s largest deployment to date.
The solution is designed to enable subscribers can easily find, locate, or monitor phones and other assets based on their geographic position, points of interest, and securely fine-tune their privacy profile on-the-fly when they want it.
The following applications are among the first services:
ï¿½ Real-Time Fleet and Asset Management ï¿½ Enterprises can locate, monitor, and manage their mobile assets and employees using a Web browser.
ï¿½ Friend Finder ï¿½ Alerts subscribers when one of the contacts they designate on their buddy list is in close proximity to their location.
ï¿½ Mobile Yellow Pages ï¿½ Just like it sounds; allows subscribers to find the location of the closest service point of their interest.
ï¿½ City Sightseeing ï¿½ Subscribers can look up location information of a place of interest (restaurant, museum, theater, park, and so on).
Location-based services are once again on the rise. One simply has to look around to find a wealth of information on this resurgent segment of the industry. Or perhaps just start walking towards the nearest coffee house. Maybe the information will find you...