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The impact and penetration of location-based services

Shiode, N; Li, C; Batty, M; Longley, PA; Maguire, D; (2002) The impact and penetration of location-based services. (CASA Working Papers 50). Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (UCL): London, UK. Green open access

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Since the invention of digital technology, its development has followed an entrenched path ofminiaturisation and decentralisation with increasing focus on individual and niche applications. Computerhardware has moved from remote centres to desktop and hand held devices whilst being embedded invarious material infrastructures. Software has followed the same course. The entire process has convergedon a path where various analogue devices have become digital and are increasingly being embedded inmachines at the smallest scale. In a parallel but essential development, there has been a convergence ofcomputers with communications ensuring that the delivery and interaction mechanisms for computersoftware is now focused on networks of individuals, not simply through the desktop, but in mobilecontexts. Various inert media such as fixed television is becoming more flexible as computers and visualmedia are becoming one.With such massive convergence and miniaturisation, new software and new applications define the cuttingedge. As computers are being increasingly tailored to individual niches, then new digital services areemerging, many of which represent applications which hitherto did not exist or at best were rarely focusedon a mass market. Location based services form one such application and in this paper, we will bothspeculate on and make some initial predictions of the geographical extent to which such services willpenetrate different markets. We define such services in detail below but suffice it to say at this stage thatsuch functions involve the delivery of traditional services using digital media and telecommunications.High profile applications are now being focused on hand held devices, typically involving information onproduct location and entertainment but wider applications involve fixed installations on the desktop whereservices are delivered through traditional fixed infrastructure. Both wire and wireless applications definethis domain. The market for such services is inevitably volatile and unpredictable at this early stage but wewill attempt here to provide some rudimentary estimates of what might happen in the next five to tenyears.The ?network society? which has developed through this convergence, is, according to Castells (1989,2000) changing and re-structuring the material basis of society such that information has come todominate wealth creation in a way that information is both a raw material of production and an outcome ofproduction as a tradable commodity. This has been fuelled by the way technology has expanded followingMoore?s Law and by fundamental changes in the way telecommunications, finance, insurance, utilitiesand so on is being regulated. Location based services are becoming an integral part of this fabric and thesereflect yet another convergence between geographic information systems, global positioning systems, andsatellite remote sensing. The first geographical information system, CGIS, was developed as part of theCanada Land Inventory in 1965 and the acronym ?GIS? was introduced in 1970. 1971 saw the firstcommercial satellite, LANDSAT-1. The 1970s also saw prototypes of ISDN and mobile telephone and theintroduction of TCP/IP as the dominant network protocol. The 1980s saw the IBM XT (1982) and thebeginning of de-regulation in the US, Europe and Japan of key sectors within the economy. Finally in the 1990s, we saw the introduction of the World Wide Web and the ubiquitous pervasion of business andrecreation of networked PC?s, the Internet, mobile communications and the growing use of GPS forlocational positioning and GIS for the organisation and visualisation of spatial data. By the end of the 20thcentury, the number of mobile telephone users had reached 700 million worldwide. The increasingmobility of individuals, the anticipated availability of broadband communications for mobile devices andthe growing volumes of location specific information available in databases will inevitably lead to thedemand for services that will deliver location related information to individuals on the move. Suchlocation based services (LBS) although in a very early stage of development, are likely to play anincreasingly important part in the development of social structures and business in the coming decades.In this paper we begin by defining location based services within the context we have just sketched. Wethen develop a simple model of the market for location-based services developing the standard non-linearsaturation model of market penetration. We illustrate this for mobile devices, namely mobile phones in thefollowing sections and then we develop an analysis of different geographical regimes which arecharacterised by different growth rates and income levels worldwide. This leads us to speculate on theextent to which location based services are beginning to take off and penetrate the market. We concludewith scenarios for future growth through the analogy of GIS and mobile penetration.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: The impact and penetration of location-based services
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Additional information: Imported via OAI, 16:54:26 4th May 2005
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/246
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