LBS is here: Are you ready for it?

LBS is here: Are you ready for it?


Jamil Ahmad
Jamil Ahmad
GIS consultant
[email protected]

LBS applications cover nearly every aspect related to human mobility. This paper provides an insight into the world of Location Based Services — its role in today’s digital age, the challenges in its implementation, its market. It also dwells upon factors such as user privacy and consumer awareness

Mobility is an important factor in the world of today and controlling the moving objects with modern available technology is the key for the effective disposition, control and monitoring of mobile objects such as vehicles, ships, persons etc. In other words you are always in contact with your mobile objects and informed of their current position.

A location-based service is able to provide targeted spatial information to mobile workers and consumers. These include utility location information, personal or asset tracking, driving directions and route guidance information, to name just a few of the possible “Location Based Services” (LBS). The technologies and applications of LBS can play an ever increasingly important role in the modern, mobile, always-connected world.

Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies are expanding their traditional applications to embrace a stream of consumer-focused, location-based applications. Through integration with handheld devices capable of wireless communication and mobile computing, a wide range of LBS may be offered to mobile users.

Mobile location-based commerce refers to the provision of location based information on mobile devices as a result of a user request. In other words, it aims to provide specific, targeted information to users based on each specific user’s location at any time. In the case of emergency calls, it is obvious that if the call responders have information concerning the location of the people making the call, then the response time can be reduced. Hence security and safety are important considerations for a mobile society. The requested information may be related to points-of-interest such as hospitals, restaurants, cinemas, car parks, ATMs, hotels and so on. Such a service can provide information about the point-of-interest, or driving directions to find it.

There are also many examples of applications in typical work practices that can benefit from using LBS. For example, in the case of a water pipeline breakdown emergency call, a plumber has to go to the field and quickly find the location of the broken pipe, details of the owners of nearby properties etc. A mobile device with positioning capability can be used to query a GIS database of valves that would permit the isolation of the water supply at the appropriate location.

In essence, LBS can only be provided through the integration of various technologies like wireless communications and computing technologies, with ‘geographical elements’ such as positioning technologies and spatial data sets. These components form a network using wireless communication standards to process user requests and provide information between a mobile user and a service facility. The location-based service facility is able to perform spatial functions based on the user’s location, generally with the aid of a Geographical Information System.