The Power of Babble: Congregating around LBS This article originally appeared in Geospatial Solutions Magazine's Net Results column of February 1, 2001. Other Net Results articles about the role of emerging technologies in the exchange of spatial information are also online.

1. Introduction and Glossary   2. World Market   3. US Market   4. Future of LBS   5. Place in the Choir

Sidebar: A Place in the Choir

Irrespective of region, the competition among LBS providers is to establish a reputation as the best provider of complete personal navigation solutions. To claim this title would require at least four qualities -- a robust and flexible back-end technology platform, proven device compatibility and expertise, access to worldwide spatial data, and an open interface to external applications and databases. No one entity can be the best at every aspect of the LBS package; the road to such LBS maturity will only happen through partnership.

Turn-by-turn applications require street and other public transit data. Interested suppliers of such basemap data for LBSs are Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (, Navigation Technologies (, and Tele Atlas (, now the owner of Etak, Inc. ( Working out solutions for delivering directions to the driver are such players as WirelessCar Sweden AB ( and ADAC (

Proximity applications require point-of-interest data and if the point is an event like a movie or flight its associated temporal data. Companies rich in data already exist and are hoping to sell access through the wireless market. Examples of events-based data companies are CinemaSource (, supplying movie showtimes in North America with a 36,000 movie screen database; and FlyteComm (, providing a free, real-time commercial aircraft tracker of flight delays, arrivals and departures, and airport conditions. Hoping to connect mobile consumers with the pleasures they seek are Lastminute (, with links to 3,400 airlines, hotels, package tour operators, theater, sports and entertainment promoters, restaurants, and specialty service providers; Thomson Directories (, with links to 2.2 million United Kingdom business listings; and ( with booking capability for bed and breakfasts, independent hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and hotel chains.

Also involved are equipment manufacturers and system developers with spatial specializations, such as Cambridge Positioning Systems (, offering E-OTD technology; Glenayre (, building location-aware mobile devices; and Blue Impact AG (, developing mobile GSM/GPS navigation systems.

1. Introduction and Glossary   2. World Market   3. US Market   4. Future of LBS   5. Place in the Choir