Friday 28 February 2014

The Places in our lives

This post is about how “Places” as a semantic notion is more powerful in some ways than “Location” as a geophysical notion. 

Take a look at how you interact in offline or physical world. Do you say “I am at A-41 Corenthum, Tower A….  (or equivalently I am at 28.6272, 77.3735)“ or do you say “I am at office

The former is a way of expressing Location and the latter is a way of expressing a Place.

A lot of services over time have been built using LBS (or Location Based Services) but unsurprisingly none of them have been successful. Whilst people have given several reasons, one of the reasons could be that just because you are in a particular location doesn’t mean that you are interested in services for that location, even though the likelihood is there.  For e.g. just because you are in the vicinity of a Pizza Hut doesn’t mean you are interested in buying a Pizza. You could be passing that location regularly everyday on your commute.

So what really matters is the significant locations in your life, like Office, Home or Transportation (if you consider a car or a bus as a Place)

What about business establishments that want to target users who are in vicinity – the poster child of LBS? Well, they should look at other signals – for example is the user found in other “Places” like the current business? Is the user in the vicinity of a Place that serves food and its lunchtime?

I think that the discussion has to move beyond Location to Place, Time, Demographics, and other aspects of a User to enable these services to be meaningful and succeed.