Geolocation is Heating Up

Mobile social networks are the newest technology trend of 2010. Foursquare and Gowalla recently raised rounds of funding. Yelp has added location checkins to their iPhone application. Twitter acquired GeoAPI. There are rumours that Facebook is in talks with Loopt.

However, mobile social networks are one facet of a much larger trend. For the consumer, geolocation and location-based services were primarily found in the navigation system in cars or the bulky GPS watches worn by runners. Today we assume that all smart phones offer location services. This assumption will soon hold true for most mobile devices.

The address book just became dynamic. The location of your contacts can be updated in real-time. Soon, geolocation will find its way into most other applications. CRM systems will be able to track the location of its sales team and its customers. News stories will be tagged with locations.

Real-time traffic updates is a perfect example of an application that will benefit from the rise of geolocation. I was driving back into downtown Vancouver after the end of the Olympic Ceremonies. A quick geolocation search on Twitter let me know that the Cambie Street and Granville Street bridges had been shut down to traffic. In the past, drivers received these updates over news radio. There is a clear advantage to receiving real-time updates customized for particular users.

However, developers require infrastructure to build the next generation of geolocation applications. There are many pieces of the geolocation technology stack that are currently missing. This makes it difficult for developers to bring applications quickly to market. The flip side of the equation is that there is an opportunity for developers to build businesses in this new space.

This will be the topic of discussion at this weeks DemoCamp in Vancouver.

Matt Galligan of SimpleGeo will be in Vancouver to speak about SimpleGeo. Matt currently resides in Boulder, Colorado. He is fresh off the acquisition of his last startup Socialthing by AOL. Socialthing has morphed into the new AIM Lifestream.

SimpleGeo offers geolocation infrastructure as a service. Their service allows developers to store objects with location data and then perform location based queries on these stored objects. Examples of stored objects include people, places, and media. The service also provides analytics on top of this data.