What are Location-Based Services?

Location-based services provide content that is dynamically customized according to the user's location. These services are commonly delivered to mobile devices, but can also be accessed from other portable computers, handhelds, or any Internet-capable device. Current common applications for location-based services include advertising, news, social networking, and similar services. An increasing number of mobile applications are taking advantage of the built-in geolocation capability that is increasingly a standard feature in mobile devices. Media such as photos and video, as well as the simplicity of geotagging, will be important aspects of location-based services as they continue to develop.

With the advent of easily accessible GPS technology, especially embedded in mobile devices, location-based services are on the rise. Early applications focused on marketing, advertising, and social networking: consumers could discover retailers and venues near them offering services of interest, as well as find friends and colleagues in the area. Location-specific data can be displayed in a variety of ways: photographs, videos, or text overlaid on maps, photos, or live views of the area, for instance, or listed by location name and address. Contextual information can include historical data, weather reports, locations of nearby people, objects, and places, and so on. Location-based information is not hard to access, and it is becoming easier to create and distribute, as well.

There are three ways that location can be discerned, at decreasing levels of resolution: geolocation, cell tower triangulation, and wireless Internet access points. Tools for developers are lowering the bar to creating location-based applications; while programming chops are still required, systems like TransGo by TransFormat (http://www.location-based-media.de) enable rapid development of location-based applications using GPS, RFID, network triangulation, and other technologies. Digital resources can be connected with physical locations and objects very easily, so that once location is established, tools can direct users to locations in a particular area that offer information, products, or services needed at that moment. Information about nearby buildings, landmarks, or other fixed features is commonplace; a growing use of location-based services is to locate people nearby — people known or unknown to the user — who share interests or experiences in common. Educational applications for location-based services are currently along the same lines, delivering relevant place-based information and allowing easy geotagging of captured data.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Use Foursquare on excursions - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 26, 2011
  • Location based contributions of photos, video, stories, sensor data that has been collected in science provide a major channel for 'participatory media culture' contributions by learners (Henry Jenkins) as they learn how to contribute to the digital commons that is where we can all take advantage of the collective intelligence thus assembled [- roy.pea roy.pea Feb 27, 2011]

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Do we need separate Geolocation and location-based services as themes? - bwatwood bwatwood Feb 21, 2011
  • Whether here or elsewhere we need to reflect development in wireless sensor 'motes' and associated networks that enable large-scale continuous data collection, as in environmental monitoring of air quality, water quality, sunlight, temperature, humidity and soil parameters as well. These resources are increasingly being published as open data to the public and have phenomenal prospects for rich science education projects. [- roy.pea roy.pea Feb 27, 2011]

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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