MoMo London – Mobile, Maps and Geolocation

mobilemondaylondon.gifLast night I was at Mobile Monday London where the theme was Mobile, Maps and Geolocation – so much more than "Where am I?". It was a panel event with Gary Gale from Nokia, Christopher Osborne from AlertMe and founder and organiser of GeoMob, Ian Holt, Head of Developer Outreach at Ordnance Survey, Jeni Tennison, Technical Director at the Open Data Institute and member of the W3C TAG and Harry Wood of who is also an OpenStreetMap volunteer.


I thought the event started very woolly with lots of vague statements that seemed obvious and probably even obvious to the layperson. It’s when the audience got involved that things became a lot more interesting. I came to the event expecting discussion on such things as privacy, implementation practicalities and comparisons of map providers but came away with probably, more valuable, insights into where Mobile, Maps and Geolocation might be heading in the future. Here are some of my notes…

  • There was discussion on whether we will always have or need maps. For example, navigation doesn’t need maps and Foursquare is centred around POIs rather than maps. I think the consensus was that these are additional uses for map data that probably won’t ever replace 2D maps.
  • There will probably be more innovations and required standardisation for indoor mapping.
  • There will be more use of map data with other contextual data and historical data so that problems can be solved such as "What will the traffic be like when I set out and hence what route should I take".
  • As with previous MoMo events on GPS and location, it was observed that location ‘where I am going’ is often more interesting then the current location. Again, historical and contextual information can provide for more useful services.
  • Some solutions will require access to raw vector data that’s currently unavailable from most providers (I suppose at least easily available and at reasonable cost).
  • There are opportunities for transactional apps based on where you are or where you are going. The current Taxi apps are early innovators in this area.
  • There was a view that OpenStreetMap needs to somehow sort out its licensing so that it can be used for apps that generate revenue. The current Share alike licensing is putting off a lot of potential commercial users.
  • Telecom operators, who are best placed to collect and use location data, continue to be (too) slow to innovate. They have large opportunities in areas that use aggregated anonymous data such as government traffic management and business intelligence.
  • Medical, particularly the security (location) of expensive medical assets is a growing and viable area.
  • There are opportunities to use location data to perform queries that don’t just rely on distance. For example, you might do a query that shows POIs of certain type based on time to reach as opposed to distance.
  • There was discussion on the UK PAF (Postcode) database that’s currently controlled by the Royal Mail. The Royal Mail probably needs to open this data otherwise it will eventually be replicated via open/crowdsourced methods.