Location in the cloud (part 1)

I’m a guest blogger this week at the 2010 Where 2.0 conference. I’ve been working with mobile location services and systems since 2000. In lieu of a heavy focus on mobile at Where 2.0 this year, Brady Forrest invited me to write a few words and offer insights into a theme around two emerging areas of mobile location data access—Wireless Location in the Cloud and Social Location in the Cloud. This post is the first in a two-part series.

Wireless Location in the Cloud

where20 foursquare badgeWireless location data and access to it has been a highly coveted wireless network asset since the early days of e9-1-1 in the late 1990s. To support 9-1-1, wireless carriers in the US made large investments to deploy life-saving emergency services location infrastructure capable of pinpointing the location of any wireless 9-1-1 call, on any phone, as mandated by the FCC. Today, these systems have been augmented to support a separate commercial service delivery capability designed for commercial applications and services, and as with short messaging services, these services are now becoming available through cross-carrier aggregators supported by most tier one wireless carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Attendees at Where 2.0 today got a glimpse of what’s now available.

Cross-Carrier Aggregation is Finally Real

Veriplace is a new location aggregation service offering by Wavemarket. The company has a decade-long history building credibility and trust with North American wireless carriers by supplying them with white labeled family finder and child locator applications, which have robust privacy management functions built-in. With an earned trust and understanding of privacy management in a carrier environment, Wavemarket and their new Veriplace service is one of first location aggregation services to offer proxy access into most tier-one wireless carrier location services systems. Think of Veriplace as a central hub in the cloud with one common web services API that can access the location of every mobile phone or connected machine-to-machine device in the US, supported by an OAuth framework that insulates developers from working through stringent wireless carrier privacy policies.

Two Concepts Supporting Location beyond the Smartphone

With their location API, Veriplace introduced two concepts today:

  1. Ubiquity. Veriplace is capable of locating 150M phones of all types on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Verizon is sure to arrive soon.
  2. Cloud-based. Since the service uses the wireless network, it’s possible to locate mobile devices via a web service in the cloud and there’s nothing to install devices.

Veriplace wants to encourage developers to think about mobile location data as an accessible ingredient common to all mobile devices, not just high end Android, Blackberry, or iPhone smartphones. They also want to help developers think beyond native apps towards mobile services—services that use lower common denominator communication modes such as short and multimedia messaging services, interactive voice response, the Web, and even WAP from feature phones lacking full HTML browsing support.

The Veriplace Developer Contest

Specific developer opportunities they cited include Social Networking, Messaging & Alerting, Fraud Detection, Roadside Assistance, Government services to citizens, and more. To stimulate work in these areas, The Veriplace Developer Contest was announced with cash awards and prize incentives for interested contestants.

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