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Use-cases of Location Based Services

May 04, 2022


Location-based services have become an intrinsic part of our day-to-day lives. If we are traveling to a place and want to know the optimum route, we immediately reach out to the Google Maps application on our phone. If we are planning on an outdoor event, we seek out weather apps such as Accuweather that tell us how the day is going to be in a particular location. And not just that, location-based services play a huge role in ensuring personal safety. To let our near and dear ones know that we are safe if there is a natural calamity striking our location, we use the “Marked as Safe” option on Facebook. One can also track lost mobile phones using the location data. In this blog, we will understand the technology that powers Location Based Services and delve through some of the most common use cases of location-based services.

What is a Location Based Service?

With a combination of geospatial technologies, communication technologies, and the Internet, Location-based services help provide real-time information to individuals based on their geographic location.   In the case of Location-Based Service (LBS), the service refers to an IT service as opposed to traditional service offerings of companies. The services are further categorized into two main categories:

  • Push - In this case, the application initiates the location-based service by presenting the user/device with the relevant information based on their real-time location. For instance, when a user is near a specific retail outlet, he gets an advertisement or coupon because of proximity marketing which is a push-type Location based service.
  • Pull – In this case the user initiates the location-based service by querying for specific information based on their current location. An example of this is when we query for the “petrol/gas stations” en route while using Google Maps.

Components of a Location Based Service

A location-based service (LBS) consists of 3 major components. They are as follows:

  1. Localization: This is synonymous with positioning technology. One can consider GPS satellites or a combination of multiple positioning technologies and a reference system, which maps the input signal to a formalized position. For instance, reference systems can include 2D-maps (e.g. building plan), 3D-maps (e.g. virtual model of a shop floor)
  2. Service Provision: This is comprised of the IT service providers’ software application and the geo-specific information provided to the end-user by a content provider
  3. Communication: IN order to enable communication, the LBS requires an adequate communication network (such as LTE or WiFi) to transmit data and requests for service and a user interface that could be the end user’s mobile device.

It is legally binding that location-based services must be permission-based. In other words, the end-user must opt-in to the service to use it. This is achieved by installing the LBS application and allowing the service to know the consumers’ device's location.

Popular Use-Cases of Outdoor Location Based Services:

The proliferation of mobile phones, internet penetration, accessibility of GPS and similar satellite-based positioning, and extensive availability of mobile phone services has contributed to the widespread use of location-based services in the B2C sector. Here are some of the popular use-cases of Outdoor Location Based Services:

Navigation and travel information:

One of the most popular use cases of Location based services are the Navigation apps. GoogleMaps has the highest brand recall in this category. These applications help users find the best possible routes between two points, and deliver real traffic data notifications and weather reports so that users can plan their travel accordingly. While these are mostly outdoor applications, wayfinding apps can help in indoor navigation when used in a large premises such as a mall or hospital or university campus

Store and service locators:

Extrapolating on the navigation use case, location-based intelligence can further benefit retail customers to quickly find the nearest store and service location. For example, if a customer has downloaded a retailer’s app, then they can go to the “store location” and find the nearest store based on their current location. With the line blurring between digital and physical retail, these apps can also be used by brick-and-mortar stores with an eCommerce functionality where they encourage customers to buy online and pickup their order from a physical store. It can also be used by eCommerce players where they tie-up with brands and let the customers pickup from their nearest outlet.

Proximity-based marketing:

Yet again building upon the store and service locator use-case, retailers can further use the geo-location data to understand the store preferences of the customers and deliver personalized offers when they are in the vicinity of those retail outlets. This is known as proximity marketing. Instead of casting a wider net, this way they can spend their marketing budget on customers who are most likely going to purchase. Sometimes geofencing which is also a location-based service can be used to send/trigger messages with promotional offers/contextual recommendations whenever a mobile device with the app installed in it is entering, exiting, or parked in a defined geographical location. For instance, you get a promotional message from your favorite coffee shop when you are in proximity of the shop.

Fleet tracking & Mobile workforce management:

Location tracking has helped companies in the logistics and logistics-dependant industries keep track of where their shipments are and whether their employees are at the designated locations. For instance, food delivery apps help customers know when their order has been received, packed, and dispatched as well as the time period in which it will be delivered to them. This is usually done when their employees check in at a location using their mobile device and the information is relayed to the customer in real-time.

Asset tracking and theft prevention:

Asset tracking is crucial in an industrial scenario where goods and merchandise are tracked using RFID or beacons which continuously send their identification to a server via controllers. The location data is interpreted by software on the server which communicates with a smart device to show the location of all the assets on a map. This helps in accurately tracking inventory, helps in forecasting as well as prevents theft from happening since everything is recorded and under surveillance.

Roadside assistance:

There has been a significant rise in the number of accidents happening on the road which has led to the growth of roadside assistance companies. These roadside assistance (RSA) companies provide an app that allows them to track the users’ exact location so that they do not have the added hassle to give directions to reach them in case an unfortunate event happens. With location-based services roadside assistance companies are able to respond faster, process a higher number of calls, route them correctly and assign the correct service provider to take up the matter, thereby providing better service to customers in their time of need.

Fraud prevention

Geolocation frauds occur when criminals try to fabricate their location information by using the victim’s GPS and IP address information. Location-based services can create an added security layer by matching a customer’s location via their smartphone to a credit card transaction. By attaching the smartphone’s location to the customer’s credit card, suspicious transactions made across several geographical locations can be flagged thereby preventing the fraud from happening

Social networks, messengers & dating:

Social networking apps have been built on the premise of the location to reunite old friends or make new friends. Whatsapp a popular messaging app has a feature of sharing real-time geo-location to help people find each other. Similarly, dating apps have been built on the premise of location, to enable people with common interests and common locations to come together. Extrapolating on this principle, location-based professional networks can be built to empower professional connections and build community job boards.

Augmented Reality & Games:

In the year 2016 Pokemon Go created quite a stir when it combined location-based service, augmented reality and gaming into an enthralling game that could be played by the people on the streets of their hometown. Though it had to be taken down due to restrictions imposed by the governments of different countries, it opened up yet another opportunity to showcase the use of location-based services.

Market for Location Based Services:

As published in a research conducted by Meticulous Research, the location-based services market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.2% from 2022 to 2029 to reach $239.7 billion by 2029. While COVID-19 dampened the market performance for a short stint the demand for these services is on the rise as they find application in different sectors such as retail, logistics, pharmaceuticals, hospitality and automotive. New entrants providing cutting-edge technology solutions (& services) in this space are utilizing the COVID 19 period to capitalize on the market once it opens by initiating new product launches, enhancements to existing products, forging partnerships, and collaborations. As customers look for a more personalized experience, location-based service will be the very foundation of building apps that will enhance customer satisfaction.






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