the 10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World

This post was written by Rob Reed. He is the founder of MomentFeed, a location-based marketing, strategy, and technology firm.

Location technologies are transforming how we experience, navigate, and ultimately better our world. From the global to the local, here are #10Ways geolocation is a positive force for good.

Social media has changed the world. It has revolutionized communications on a global scale, and the transformation continues with every status update, blog post, and video stream. The global citizenry has become a global network.

Since becoming widely adopted just a couple years ago, social media has supercharged social action, cause marketing, and social entrepreneurship. Indeed, the true value hasn’t been the technology itself but how we’ve used it. Today, a second wave of innovation is defining a new era and setting the stage for change over the coming decade.

Mobile technologies will extend the global online network to anyone with a mobile device while enabling countless local networks to form in the real world. We’ve decentralized media production and distribution. We’re doing the same for energy. And we’ll continue this trend for social networking, social action, and commerce.

The combined forces of smartphones, mobile broadband, and location-aware applications will connect us in more meaningful ways to the people, organizations, events, information, and companies that matter most to us—namely, those within a physical proximity of where we live and where we are. Can location-based services (LBS) change the world? Here are #10Ways:

1. Checking in for Good: If Gowalla and Foursquare have taught us anything, it’s that people respond to simple incentives. By offering badges, mayorships, and other intangible rewards, millions of people are checking in to the places they go. Apps like Whrrl take this a step further and enable like-minded “societies” to form on a local basis. The next step is for these apps to add greater purpose by encouraging more meaningful checkins and offering corresponding badges and stamps, thus mapping the cause universe. Or for a dedicated app to be developed that rewards conscious consumption, social responsibility, and civic engagement. Yes, the CauseWorld app features a cause element, but it’s not about cause-worthy places.

2. Eating Locally: Sustainability demands that we source our food as close to its point of production as possible. Many so-called locavores subscribe to the 100-mile diet, which requires that one “eat nothing—or almost nothing—but sustenance drawn from within 100 miles of their home.” Given the difficulty of accessing and verifying this information in order to live by this standard, there’s a geo-powered Locavore app. It gives you info on in-season foods, those coming in-season, farmer’s markets, and links to recipes. This rather simple app is clearly just the start. In time, location-aware apps will guide us not only to the grocery store or farmer’s market but through them. All the while identifying foods based on our particular diet or sensibility.

3. Political Organizing: In the next presidential election, politics will not only be local but location-enabled. We saw the power of social media in Obama’s 2008 landslide victory. In 2012, location-based apps and technologies will play a central role in how campaigns are organized, managed, and ultimately won. Much of this will be visible through mobile apps and location-aware browsers. Activists and volunteers will be more empowered. Voters will be more engaged in the moment, right down to casting their votes. Behind the scenes, though, we’ll see massive new sets of data available to campaigns for targeting, empowerment, and optimization. The party, candidate, and/or cause that has the best handle on geolocation will have a measurable advantage. (The Elections app will soon be updated for 2010.)

4. Finding Green Businesses: The web has effectively replaced the paper Yellow Pages as a way to find local businesses and services. However, this “stationary web” experience is quickly being supplanted by the mobile web and mobile applications, which give us access to this information when we most need it. The Yelp and Around Me apps are popular ways to find restaurants, coffee shops, or hotels wherever you are, but what about green-rated businesses? Greenopia has transformed its printed, local guides into a dynamic, nationwide mobile application that lets you find local, green-rated businesses in any category. No more paper and a much better experience. The Green Map app is another that facilitates discovery and connects us to local green environments.

5. Traveling More Efficiently: We’ve had access to GPS navigation systems and static traffic information for some time, but only now are we seeing the full potential of these technologies. With access to more detailed traffic information that is specific to your route and updated in real time, we can minimize congestion and maximize traffic flow (as much as physically possible). The new turn-by-turn MapQuest 4 Mobile app is a good start, as you can get traffic alerts specific to the route you program. However, user-generated information from apps like Trapster and Waze can crowdsource more specific details, such as whether to avoid an intersection due to a toxic chemical spill. Or, if you want to avoid automobiles altogether, Google Maps makes it easy to use public transportation and take a bike.

6. Scanning for Ethical Products: With online shopping, we’ve become accustomed to reading reviews and making comparisons before we buy. This can now be done in the physical world through games like MyTown and services like Stikybits. By scanning a product barcode using a smartphone camera, you can unlock a treasure of additional information (not to mention deals) that can help with your purchase. This might include where it was produced, how far it traveled, the reputation of the manufacturer, chemical contents, carbon footprint, or the full lifecycle analysis. Location-aware applications can also transform commerce itself by giving us better access to local inventories and locally-produced goods. Whether it’s fruits and vegetables or books and electronics, if something can be found within blocks of your current location, it makes no sense to ship it from afar.

7. Networking Neighborhoods: One of the hottest categories in geolocation is neighborhood networking. The vision for many of these apps is to strengthen the very fabric of our communities. With DeHood, you can keep track of what’s happening in your neighborhood, share your favorite places, and grease the wheels for actually meeting people. After all, if you’ve made contact through the app, it’s a lot easier to say “Hello” in the real world. Blasterous is another that lets you share information locally, whereas BlockChalk does this on an anonymous basis. Finally, NeighborGoods uses your street address to facilitate one-to-one borrowing and trading of useful stuff. In the end, making connections with your neighbors can lead to safer, more productive, and more sustainable communities.

8. Tracking Environmental Disasters: The size and scope of environmental disasters appears to be growing. In 2008, we had the Tennessee coal ash spill, which was billed as “the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States.” And that was before we realized it was three times bigger than originally estimated. More recently, the BP oil spill set daily records for “largest environmental disaster in the U.S. ever.” In each case, geolocation technologies can be used by engaged citizens to monitor and track the effects. They can be used by response teams to coordinate containment and cleanup efforts. Ultimately, these technologies can be used to accurately measure the size and impact of a disaster in order to better understand its damages and costs.

9. Viewing the World Through an Eco Lens: Augmented reality (AR) follows geolocation as one of the hot trends in mobile technology. It enables you to view the world through a smartphone camera (or similar device) and see layers of geo-specific content or information. One of the most popular apps is Layar, an augmented reality browser/platform that lets you choose specific data layers or experiences. The potential for green- and cause-related content is tremendous. You might view green-rated businesses, LEED-certified buildings, or virtual GHG emissions as they enter the atmosphere. Combined with smart meter technology, you could see the most efficient and inefficient homes around you in real time. And for the cynics among us, you could view our mountains, forests, rivers, and oceans as they once were…before the effects of climate change and so many environmental disasters.

10. Capturing the Moment: Better access to information about what’s happening around us—right now—can dramatically improve quality of life. This sense of “geospatial awareness” is possible through today’s smartphones, whereby a piece of content or information—a moment—is captured and preserved based on the unique time and place in which it occurred. It is essentially to document spacetime. Protests, natural disasters, sporting events, parties, political crises…real-time information about anything happening anywhere at any time, as well as the history of what happened. This will take several years and a number of different applications to realize. In the end, though, it will revolutionize how we access and consume content. It will complete the democratization and decentralization of news and information…based on time and location.

Cautionary note: Privacy is the single biggest issue in the LBS industry. It’s important to understand what information you are sharing with regard to your location and with whom.

Author’s note: We’ll be hosting geolocation events for Social Media Week in Los Angeles this September. This is the third in Max Gladwell‘s #10Ways series of distributed blog posts. It was published simultaneously on as many as 300 blogs.

the scramble for netbooks under $200 | buy.com

Two words: Hurry. Up.

The Netbooks Under $200 sale is back with limited stock, and students going back to school are about to buy them all up. These popular machines do everything smartphones can and then some.

If you can run all of your day-to-day online and other computer-related activities with a hand-held device, then bravo. Consider yourself special. The majority of us caught in the interweb need a notebook computer or desktop setup to fulfill our complete computing experience.

This is a decent set of hardware for a couple hundred bucks: an Intel mobile processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD, 10.1″ screen, a near standard-sized keyboard, and wireless capabilities. You paid how much for that pop tart you beat with your thumbs all day? Can it run Adobe Creative Suite? Microsoft Office?

Most people that rely on a computer to complete their life benefit from owning a netbook. A dilemma that often arises requiring access to a popular search engine can always be solved with flipping open a Eee PC and accessing the internet faster and more dependable than their pocket-sized cousins that clog up exclusive, often-congested networks.

Smart shoppers needing their netbook fix will have already jumped on these puppies before you started reading this. The Eee PC netbook series has remained a top seller in the mobile computing department. The geek chic emanates from sporting a netbook is a symbol of the technology surrounding us today. [:ha:]

the rill quik

After this, I will be reviewing study guides for an exam that I am taking tomorrow afternoon.

After that exam, I will be cramming another study guide for the exam in my other class on Wednesday evening. Fortunately, this exam allows two double-sided pages of notes. I would be doomed otherwise.

The completion of that exam will conclude my summer session.

Mary and Max (IMDb 8.3/10 9,403 votes) is a movie well worth viewing. The fusion of high-quality claymation and a thought-provoking story made it a very interesting film. The way it plays out threw me for a whirl. I enjoy movies that do that to me and make a good impression on my movie memory bank.

the $18 100 pack dvd+r spindle | buy.com

Do you needs terabytes of data stored in an inexpensive and consistent manner? DVD+R backups are one of the easiest solutions for backing up large amounts of data. Using CD-R media may be insufficient in regards to the time necessary to create the backups and the storage capacity of the discs.

Whether you have DVD ISO files that need to be stored in another location or an immense amount of data that is constantly updated and requires regular backups, a 100 pack spindle of DVD+R media is probably the least expensive, most portable, and most compatible way of transporting data other than beaming the ones and zeroes over a secure network.

Imagine this scenario. A flood destroys your computer equipment, and the only backups you kept were on magnetic hard drives. The water wets their moving parts and short circuits the device. The data can only be restored by sending it to a data recovery lab, and that is probably more than you’d want to spend unless you have irreplaceable data that absolutely must be recovered.

If this data was routinely backed up onto DVD+R media on sale for $18, then the water-resistant, non-magnetic material that comprises this physical storage could have provided a harder, better, faster, and stronger backup solution if an offsite data center wasn’t already established.

<a title=”Memorex 16x DVD+R Media” href=”http://www.buy.com/prod/memorex-16x-4-7gb-dvd-r-media-100-pack-spindle-memorex-16x-dvd-r-media/q/loc/101/10393034.html” target=”_blank”>

the cherenkov effect

This is a week to be overdriven. A learning experience is zoned in on upcoming exams and project deadlines. Tonight will be most focused on making progress on what was technically fallen behind on. The escalated stress level was kept dismissed for weeks and then absorbed like a life force of its own right about now. That’s what occupies a week day in and day out until the week is restarted for another seven-day adventure.

Naps double the week. The morning to mid-afternoon segment is spent as devotion to day job monotony. The evenings are spent as a pupil of an educational institution to apply more brightness and contrast to a future around the corner. A short night of sleep restarts the cycle and wedged in the possible voids are couch potatoes, rarely seen social butterflies, and human-machine symbiosis.

the playstation 3 cordless precision controller | buy.com

The Playstation 3 is usually packaged with one controller. If you’re on a budget, then a controller compatible with PS3 will suffice to enable competitive or cooperative two-player action. Many video games are designed for one-player, but many others including classic remakes like Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Bomberman Ultra are best not played alone.

I decided to purchase one of these controllers when I first received my PS3. The feel of the controller in your hands is much more comfortable than the regular controller from the rounder design. It’s on sale for $18 right now. The D-pad, buttons, and joysticks feel like the standard controller, so it’s all good for this price.

Some honesty: The Logitech Precision controller does not have vibration capability. It’s not really necessary, but it enhances the experience of some games. The controller requires 2 AA batteries, so invest in some rechargeables even though it doesn’t drink them up too quick but your Game Boy does. The USB key that communicates with the controller has an annoying green light. The ‘PS’ button is the upper-right button, and you’ll press the middle where the logo is like a purist until you learn where it is on this controller.

Other than that, it’s only $18 while supplies last, so if you need a couple extra controllers to fulfill your four-player lemon party dot org, then these are the party favors to pick up. You can get two at this price for less than one Sony DualShock 3 controller. Deal!

the thrill of procrastination

The weekend has flown by once again. Updating these records can be mind-numbing, but it needs to be done. We’re getting close to 4 years of keeping this ship afloat.

I enjoyed Matt’s El Rancho for the first time. I had the Old-Fashioned Tacos: two brisket, one chicken. They were deliciously deep-fried corn tacos with the standard veggies on the side (cilantro/onion mix and iceberg+tomatoes). Mare had the stuffed poblano and barely touched the rice. The to-go box held a brisket taco and the rice. I consumed it sometime within the next hour even though I had two chorizo and egg tacos from T-Mont for breakfast.

Betaplayer played at The Parish last night. 6th Street was rowdy as usual on a Saturday night. I missed M2X’s band at Weirdo’s the night before last. Grape told me it was a 4-hour set at the B-Play show. Mare and I ended up leaving later than we expected although the band wasn’t finished. They started 45+ minutes later than scheduled, so I’m sure their set ended near last call.

Today was supposed to a major catch-up day, but I wasted it watching a few episodes of The IT Crowd and just mulling around. I’m definitely staying up late tonight to catch up on some things… this being one of them. Thanks for reading as usual. The time to punch out the next post will be arriving very soon.