We don’t need a time machine… to know where we’re going

By MATT SCHULER, Digital Architect, Marx Layne

Do you have a smartphone? Does it have GPS enabled?  There’s been a dustup recently with the tracking that occurs on these devices.  Both Apple and Google were called before a U.S. Senate subcommittee to detail their respective mobile privacy policies.

In our current technology-driven world, location-based services are about more than just checking in.  It’s great to let people know where you are via Foursquare, Gowalla, or one of their competitors, but value must be added to the check-in.

Bobby Ghoshal, CEO of FLUD News, diverged from his planned talk at Future Midwest to address the sense of panic in the location-based services.

People are hesitant to share their location because of privacy concerns, but Ghoshal would argue that sharing your whereabouts could directly benefit you.

Ghoshal predicts that in the next couple of years there will be a lot more sharing and a lot more data output. When data collection is anonymous it’s beneficial with minimal risk.  I can find out where a restaurant is in a new city, get directions and possibly even make a reservation all with a couple of taps.  The best experience comes when the app I’m using knows where to start and to get at that information, I have to share my location.

Localization is the key to any kind of device or service like this though.  One of the examples that Ghoshal gave was Groupon, but you could just as easily look at its competitor LivingSocial.  Both provide local daily deals and both are looking ways to expand service. Groupon just launched “Now” in Chicago that asked people if they want to go out, go shopping, exercise, have fun and more.

If there’s a lack of good options, if there’s a lack of functionality, people will be less likely to share their location.  As to the concern over privacy issues, Ghoshal said there’s so much information shared that the tracking of it will be harder to do than just sitting outside someone’s house and waiting for them to leave.

We don’t need a time machine to know where we’re going.  Location-based services will give us all the information we need to know when we get there, if we’re willing to embrace them.

This is the third of a seven-part series taking a look at how we can be a force of change for those around us.

Introduction: Back to the Future Midwest

Part 1: We don’t need a time machine…to predict the weather.

Part 2: We don’t need a time machine…to stay relevant.

Part 3: We don’t need a time machine…to know where we’re going.

Part 4: We don’t need a time machine…to tell the future.

Part 5: We don’t need a time machine…to live in the clouds.

Part 6: We don’t need a time machine…to bridge the digital divide.

Part 7: We don’t need a time machine…to drive the conversation.


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