Where 2.0 meets location

Where 2.0 meets location

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Santa Clara, CA, United States: The seventh edition of Where 2.0 got to an electrifying kick-off here today with several young technologists and entrepreneurs congregating to discuss the technology and business direction of ‘location’. 

Opening the plenary, Brady Forrest of O’Reilly Media said ‘location’ is going to be the oxygen for a lot of services and indicated that the location space is full of start-ups and small companies and it is witness to a string of acquisitions. He cited the recently announced acquisition of WHERE by eBay and said that this trend is quite leading to consolidation in the industry.

Discussing the future of location, Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare, said as apps are becoming mainstream and with GPS being available on mobiles, location of people is now known in real time. He also pointed out that the API journey has been quite interesting and there are lot of functional apps in location space.

Talking on the future, Dennis said Twitter is like ‘present tense’ service but the real story can be built with the history of it. The challenge to technologists is to be able to tell people where they need to go and that is of utmost interest.

Patrick Meier of Ushahidi, a platform for live and collaborative mapping, introduced the activities of Ushahidi in providing comprehensive maps during crisis and emergency situations in Africa. He said Western embassies in Japan have been using this during the recent emergency situation in Japan and UN for the first time is using social media in the wake of Libya crisis. He said millions of people joined to protest in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and they were using Facebook to schedule protests, Twitter to coordinate and You Tube to tell the world. Several volunteers are joining the group as crisis mappers and invited more to join the cause. Ushahidi provides training and tools to volunteers who want to contribute in times of crises.

Giving a brief about Google Map Mapker, Marissa Mayer, Google, said Map Maker allows citizens to be cartographers by allowing them to make modifications to the maps and add points of interest. She gave a demo of map maker and said it is available in 187 different countries and regions.

On the enterprise side, she introduced Google Earth enterprise and said during the Louisiana oil spill last year, US govt used Google Earth enterprise during the clean up operations. Announcing the launch of Google Earth Builder, Google’s mapping platform in the cloud, she said it would be available commercially in Q3. A preview of the interesting product followed.

Justin Shafer, Product Manager – Places and Events, Facebook, traced the journey of Facebook which started with the social element but is extending the graph with location and time. Facebook started getting more open and then included geo-elements and added will soon bring in temporal data as well so that one can know what friends are doing at a particular point.  He then detailed about the ‘Places’, ‘Events’ and ‘Check-ins’ in Facebook.

Underscoring that GIS is more than just a dot on the map, Jack Dangermond, President Esri said that increased sensor networks, technology developments in cloud, matured science behind the software, and more open data policies are allowing the world to have better and more dynamic map data and is creating  a  greater consciousness about geography.

He said from technology standpoint, GIS is being used in multiple patterns – desktop, server, federated, cloud/web and indicated that the cloud pattern is easy, powerful and everywhere. Geospatial services are the foundation for delivering pervasive maps and applications.

Esri has been working on intelligent web maps – for integrating services like data, maps and models. They run analytics in the background and can be used anywhere and can be viewed in any phone and browser, he said and added that open standards are the foundation for intelligent maps. Turning to proliferating location enabled applications, he said social media and real time feeds are part of these real time maps. They are creating interesting opportunities and challenges at the same time. He concluded saying that the future of GIS will be strong – providing a platform for maps and apps.

Of camps and workshops: As a run-up to Where 2.0, a series of interesting workshops attracted crowds on the first day. Where 2.0 also brought together marketers and technologists for a marketing boot camp. It focused on location-based marketing campaigns and the new technologies available to help marketers take advantage of location data and services. It had tales of marketing successes as well as disasters, with real-life case studies, project postmortems, keynotes and start-up demos.

Fast-paced and high energy presentations marked the Ignite Where 2.0 in the evening. A panel discussion on the trends in location followed. The panel identified that social context for location is catching up. The behaviour of apps is going to change, the panel opined and said coming days will see more and more interactive apps. The panel predicted that in 10 years, all apps will be location enabled.

By our correspondent