In the presence of the latest wonders of technological development like augmented reality or the Internet of Things, the simple concept behind geolocation is often overlooked. Yet, geolocating has managed to retain a crucial role in the development of new applications – and here are the top sectors where it could play a crucial role in the future.
Pokémon Go very quickly became an international phenomenon when it was first launched in 2016. It took the mobile game just 19 days to reach 50 million users, as shown in the infographic below. By comparison, Facebook took 4 years to reach the same number, the internet needed 7 years, mobile phones 12 years, electricity 46 years and cars took a whopping 62 years. Augmented reality boosted the game’s popularity, but the frenzy it created was in equal parts due to its innovative use of geolocation – which we’d arguably only seen in the less popular apps of Ingress and Zombie, Run. Gamers would scour their surroundings to fine Pokémon in the real world – and the rest is history. Geolocation in games can provide for some equally fun outcomes, blurring the lines between the digital and the real world.
With the advent of the internet, it is easier than ever to get access to content that was produced elsewhere in the world. Geolocation can help navigate users to the right version of the content, for example by offering content in the user’s native language based on geolocating their IP address or by showing news that are more relevant to them. Netflix is known to use geolocation to track its subscribers and change its library accordingly – which can sometimes result in frustration when viewers travel around a lot but ultimately helps safeguard existing legal agreements between the provider and copyright owners.
After the arrival of the GDPR, many EU users have seen some websites blocking access to visitors located in the EU for fear that they could not comply with the requirements set out in the new data protection rules – and they would thus be facing sizeable fines. Geolocation can be used to ensure that local privacy regulations are adhered to and it can often set different service providers apart. For example, while open source HAProxy load balancing tech can be used for free to redistribute traffic and optimize server performance, it is not normally equipped to handle multi-data centres. By contrast, most on-edge load balancers enable routing services that rely on geolocation tech, which allows them to comply with local regulatory requirements.
Marketing and Advertising
Marketing is a prime market for geolocation applications, as companies have started to realise that they can use geolocating to understand how the offline behaviour of their consumers. By using geolocation, companies can have access to information about which brick and mortar stores you have visited and tailor their advertising content accordingly. Facebook has already announced that it will do precisely that, and the company behind Snapchat has worked with Placed, a location analytics company that examines how online advertising can result in in-store visits. Geolocation can also provide a wealth of knowledge with regard to the background of website visitors, resulting in the development of a more tailored and effective marketing strategy.
The idea behind geolocation may be simple, but its use can result in a wide spectrum of sophisticated applications that could change the landscape across different industries.