Location based services (LBS)



v Introduction
Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies are expanding their traditional applications to embrace a stream of consumer-focused, location-based applications. Through an integration with handheld devices capable of wireless communication and mobile computing, a wide range of what might be generically referred to as "Location-Based Services" (LBS) may be offered to mobile users. 
A location-based service is able to provide targeted spatial information to mobile workers and consumers. These include utility location information, personal or asset tracking, concierge and route-guidance information, to name just a few of the possible LBS. The technologies and applications of LBS will play an ever increasingly important role in the modern, mobile, always-connected society. 
This paper endeavors to provide some background to the technology underlying location-based services and to discuss some issues related to developing and launching LBS. These include whether wireless mobile technologies are ready to support LBS, which mobile positioning technologies can be used and what are their shortcomings, and how GIS developers manipulate spatial information to generate appropriate map images on mobile devices (such as cell phones and PDAs). In addition the authors discuss such issues as interoperability, privacy protection and the market demand for LBS.
Location information describes a physical position or attributes of a place, such as place type and privacy status, that may correspond to the past, present or future location of a person, event or device. Many applications used in the Internet today, such as tracking applications, emergency services, ubiquitous computing, and equipment management, benefit from using location information. 
In Internet telephony, location information can introduce many new services, not only for tracking, but also for controlling communication behaviors and triggering communication actions. For example, a user agent can automatically adjust its alerting style to vibration in a movie theatre. 
In order to better use location information to provide communication services in Internet telephony applications, we need to do a comprehensive analysis of location information and its usages. Previous research work on location-based services gives us required technologies to acquire location information and handle the network-layer location-based call routing and QoS management. We believe it is time to analyze location-based services in end-user-oriented manner. Our analysis will not focus on specific location tracking techniques, which have been well defined and analyzed in many articles. Neither will we discuss the network-layer location-based packet routing and QoS management. Our focus is on the application-layer, human understandable location descriptions, and end-user-oriented location-based services. 
Mobile phones and the Internet have revolutionized the communication and with it the lifestyle of people. An increasing number of mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) allow people to access the Internet where ever they are and when ever they want. From the Internet they can obtain on one hand information on events (cinema, concerts, parties) and on the other hand information on places (city maps, restaurants, museums, hospitals). 
Let us consider the example that somebody wants to take a dinner in a restaurant and is therefore searching a restaurant in the Internet. A useful approach to prevent that one gets as search result every restaurant web-page on the world one could restrict the search by adding further search criteria. A good choice is the city where the mobile user is (position), the actual time (evening) or a special type of restaurant (Chinese or Greek).

vLocation based services

The idea of using the cell phone to deliver multiple services, other than basic communication has been envisaged since the early-1990s when internet was added to voice telephony. The move from what was termed double play to multiple play brings significant benefits to consumers who can access several services through a single instrument. However, with the frontier of technology expanding continuously, the process of learning and adapting has not been smooth for market operators, regulators and consumers. As a result, applications have often failed to match growth to potential; location-based services through mobile comprise one such unexploited set of services, which has taken off only in the last few years around the world. 
Location-based services or LBS refers to ‘a set of applications that exploit the knowledge of the geographical position of a mobile device in order to provide services based on that information.” They can be classified in three categories:

1.        Public safety or emergency services: since the location of the subscriber can be provided by the carrier, the mobile phone is a valuable access point in the times of emergency. In the US, Europe and Japan, it is mandatory by law for carriers to be able to provide such information.
2.        Consumer services:
a.     Navigation – users get route maps to a particular destination,
Real time traffic routing that takes into account actual congestion patterns etc.
b.     Location based advertising – advertisements of discounts or
Offers from a store as the user comes within the vicinity.
c.      Location based reminders – users can enter in to-do lists, whose
Location information is activated when the user passes by, for instance, pick up shopping or laundry etc.
d.     Family and friend finder – allows users to keep track of the
 location of their children, relatives or friends, with the informed consent of these subscribers.
e.      Location based search – allows users to access local services, or
find even more detailed information such as listings and ratings of movies playing in theaters nearby etc.
f.       Location based mobile gaming which began a decade ago has
larger scope now as positioning and handset technology have improved considerably.

3.        Enterprise services: LBS enables firms in fleet and asset tracking,
field service dispatching, route and delivery optimization, and mobile workforce management. This has proved to be extremely useful for small and medium businesses. For instance, Metro Express Transportation Services, a company providing ground transportation services in the US, achieved a 30 percent increase in productivity and 10 percent reduction in accidents using Nextel’s location-based service. 
The term Location Based Services (LBS) refers to mobile services in which the user location information is used in order to add value to the service as a whole. The user location information in that case consists of X-Y coordinates generated by any given Location Determination Technology (LDT), such as Cell-ID, A-GPS, EOTD, etc. These technologies usually require modifications in either the networks or the mobile phones, and in some case in both. Main service categories for LBS include Emergency and Safety, Communities and Entertainment, Information and Navigation, Tracking and Monitoring, and M-Commerce.

No matter how one interprets the above outlook, most mobile operators today are already offering, or at least considering offering LBS to their subscribers. Operators see it as an integral and inevitable part of their service offering, allowing them to better utilize some of their existing assets in order to be more competitive. However, since LBS is in an early stage no usage or revenue figures are currently available. It is yet to see how this market will develop and what future business will look like for the various players.

This document aims to give a better picture about what mobile operators are really doing or planning to do, and provide some ideas about the future outcome of these efforts.
vWhat are Location Based Services?
 In the following sub sections some major characteristics and definitions on LBS will be given. We will discuss the relation between GIS and LBS and give some Keywords which are useful to describe the LBS Technology. Later the basic LBS components are introduced shortly. Finally we will explain what a Push and a Pull Service is.

Ø The relation of GIS and LBS

Figure 2. LBS as an intersection of technologies

 Figure 2 of the Introduction shows that GIS and LBS have some particular similarities. Such common features are the handling of data with positional reference and spatial analysis functions (LBS-services).
Which give answers to questions like:

• “Where am I”,
• “What is near by?” or
• “How can I go to?”

But LBS and GIS have different origins and different user groups as described by Virrantaus et al. (2001). They analyze that Geographic Information Systems have been developed during several decades on the basis of professional geographic data applications. Whereas LBS were born quite recently by the evolution of public mobile services. With respect to user groups, GIS can be seen as traditional “professional” systems intended for experienced users with wide collection of functionality. Furthermore GISystems require extensive computing resources. In contrast, the LBS are developed as limited services for large non-professional user groups. Such LBS applications operating with the restrictions of mobile computing environment like low computational power, small displays or battery run time of the mobile device.


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