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Location Location Location

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Far from being static, the web evolves continuously. It is getting smarter and faster with each passing year. It's no longer merely a question of pulling information from Web sites. It can be pushed to people automatically, based upon their location. A significant driver and product of this trend in the increasing ubiquity and utility of something called location-based services (LBS). Location-based services leverage information about your physical location to provide information tailored to your real-world location. Until recently, most LBS were based on data acquired via GPS, which means LBS were most commonly seen on handheld devices. As a key technology in the real-time, local web, LBS can provide a timely, relevant, and effortless way to stay informed. With LBS, privacy is a paramount concern. All location-enabled applications have a core set of privacy protections, which include adherence to federal and wireless carrier standards, particularly with respect to opt-in requirements and customer information confidentiality.

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									           >control-shift                                                                            Jeff Wisniewski
                                                                                                University of Pittsburgh




                                                    Location, Location, Location


                             F     ar from being static, the web evolves continuously. It is getting smarter and
                                   faster with each passing year. There is no longer one web; there is the web for
                             me, right now, where I am—and there is a web for you, right now, where you are.
                             It’s no longer merely a question of pulling information from websites. It can be
                             pushed to us automatically, based upon our location. The web knows where you




“
                             are. It’s aware of your likes, dislikes, and network. Scary? Perhaps a little. Exciting?
         Location-based      Definitely. Important? Undeniably. The web is social, increasingly personal, and
                             quickly becoming hyperlocal.
                                A significant driver and product of this trend in the increasing ubiquity and
        services leverage    utility of something called location-based services (LBS). LBS can provide
                             libraries with new tools to market their products and enhance their services, and
       information about     the time to optimize for the hyperlocal web is now.


           your physical     LOCATION-BASED SERVICES
                               Location-based services leverage information about your physical location to
                             provide information tailored to your real-world location. Until recently, most
       location to provide   LBS were based on data acquired via GPS, which means LBS were most com-
                             monly seen on handheld devices.
            information        While that continues to be true, LBS have come to the browser, pulling infor-
                             mation garnered from your network address and other data to geo-locate you.
         tailored to your    Knowing where you are, the web can present tailored information and services.
                             Firefox 3.5 includes an opt-in location-aware browsing option. With location-
                             based browsing enabled, for example, a Google search for library will return
             real-world      not only the top page ranked results in general but also libraries near where you
                             are. Thus, while LBS continue to flourish on mobile devices, they’re also making
              location.      a play for the desktop as well.
                               What about the spread of LBS—how big will they get? Read Write Web is call-
                             ing 2009 the year of LBS, Twitter plans to add location-based information to each
                             and every tweet (but only if you opt in), and Firefox 3.5 is already location-aware,
                             as are many web search engines. Firefox’s upcoming mobile browser, Fennec,
                             will also be location-aware, able to tailor the web-browsing experience to match
                             your current location. And the new HTML 5 specification allows for access to the

54 www.onlinemag.net
underlying location information from a webpage. So, yeah,            for example, take a quick detour to the common area if they
LBS are spreading rapidly and are likely to get bigger.              see that their professor is there. Ryerson University in
                                                                     Toronto currently uses LBS as part of its Campus Assistant
CATEGORIES OF LBS                                                    project. It was designed by a Ryerson Ph.D. student,
   Location-based services tend to fall into three nonexclu-         Hossein Rahnama.
sive categories:                                                        LBS have gone commercial. A key player in the LBS land-
• Requests for things or information relevant to your cur-           scape is … drum roll … Google. Google offers Latitude
  rent location—this could be a nearby ATM or the closest            (www.google.com/latitude/intro.html), an opt-in service
  public library                                                     that allows you to see your Latitude friends’ locations on a
• Receiving alerts, such as a notice of a sale on electronics in     Google map. You can be Latitude friends with anyone you
  a store you just passed or a text message reminder when            choose, assuming they accept your friend request, raising
  you enter the library that 
								
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