July 29, 2010

10 ways geolocation is changing the world

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Geo-aware apps will help democratize news and information

Guest post by Rob Reed
Founder, MomentFeed

Social media has changed the world. It has revolutionized communications on a global scale, and the transformation continues with every status update, blog post and video stream. The global citizenry has become a global network.

Since becoming widely adopted just a few ago, social media has supercharged social action, cause marketing and social entrepreneurship. Its true value hasn’t been the technology itself but how we’ve used it. Today a second wave of innovation is defining a new era and setting the stage for change over the coming decade.

Mobile technologies will extend the global online network to anyone with a mobile device while enabling countless local networks to form in the real world. We’ve decentralized media production and distribution. We’re doing the same for energy. And we’ll continue this trend for social networking, social action and commerce.

The combined forces of smartphones, mobile broadband and location-aware applications will connect us in more meaningful ways to the people, organizations, events, information and companies that matter most to us — namely, those within a physical proximity of where we live and where we are. Can location-based services (LBS) change the world? Here are  #10Ways:

Checking in for good

1If Gowalla and Foursquare have taught us anything, it’s that people respond to simple incentives. By offering badges, mayorships and other intangible rewards, millions of people are checking in to the places they go. Apps like Whrrl take this a step further and enable like-minded “societies” to form on a local basis. The next step is for these apps to add greater purpose by encouraging more meaningful check-ins and offering corresponding badges and stamps, thus mapping the cause universe. Or for a dedicated app to be developed that rewards conscious consumption, social responsibility and civic engagement. (Yes, the CauseWorld app features a cause element, but it’s not about cause-worthy places.)

Eating locally

asparagus2Sustainability demands that we source our food as close to its point of production as possible. Many so-called locavores subscribe to the 100-mile diet, which requires that one “eat nothing — or almost nothing — but sustenance drawn from within 100 miles of their home.” Given the difficulty of accessing and verifying this information in order to live by this standard, there’s a geo-powered Locavore app. It gives you info on in-season foods, those coming in-season, farmer’s markets and links to recipes. This rather simple app is clearly just the start. In time, location-aware apps will guide us not only to the grocery store or farmer’s market but through them, identifying foods based on our particular diet or sensibility. Continue reading