Chanitra Bishop, a librarian at Indiana University said that location-based mobile networks are growing in popularity. Information sent to a user’s mobile device based on location allows targeted marketed messages to be sent to users in a specific geographic location. For example, businesses can send out coupons or provide deals to people in the area. Two of the primary systems used are Foursquare and Yelp.
Foursquare is not a ballgame! It allows you to check in at a location, list things to do, find out what friends are doing, and learn about events, restaurants, etc. It is the most popular location-based social network and has over 205,000 users worldwide. Foursquare grew over 3400% in 2010. If you use Foursquare, you must realize that you are broadcasting where you are, and you might not want to reveal that. Users can add tips, comments, connect with Twitter and Facebook, and comment on what friends are doing. Foursquare is also a game with “badges”, a “mayor” of a location, points and a “leaderboard”. You can claim your location, add new location (like within your library) and run promotions
Library applications include giving a virtual tour of the library by setting up locations in the library. You can reward the mayor of the location with a prize, do promotions based on locations (such as a particular area in the library), and add tips, descriptions, photos, and tags.
Jason Clark from Montana State University continued the theme, noting that location is a metric of interest. He quoted a product manager from Google who said that about half of the queries on Google have a geographic component.
Here are some possible library applications of location-based systems:
- Mapping data. For example, see this map of research locations discussed in theses submitted to the university.
- Promote your place using check-in features of location-based networks. See the National Archives on Foursquare for an example. The Darien, CT and Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore are also using check-in services.
- Local interest applications–such as the walking tours done by the University of North Carolina, or the San Jose Public Library.
- Google Earth can be used to create interactive maps and embed them on a site.
- You can also create a cultural snapshot of a place; for example WorldCat Local can find your location and then present relevant books or videos.
To get started with these systems, choose data with location interest and record its latitude and longitude using any one of a number of available systems for doing this. Then “reverse geocode” it to translate the location on a map into a human-readable place name which can then be displayed on an appropriate device. The Location Awhere blog is a good source for further information.