|World at your fingertips|
|Friday, 08 March 2013|
We’ve all heard of GPS technology. But what of newer terms like ‘GeoTagging’ and ‘GeoFencing’. Nick Lee investigates
I can still remember buying my first TomTom GPS Navigator almost 10 years ago. We were planning a family holiday to France and thought it might be useful. It was, even if it did keep telling me I was driving on non-existent roads! With technological convergence I now have a fully functional TomTom app on my iPhone.
Anybody with a GPS receiver can access the ‘Global Positioning System’. GPS is a system of satellites that provides location and time in all weather conditions anywhere in the world.
As well as GPS navigation, this system of satellites has brought us new terms like GeoTagging, where geographical identification data is added to geotagged photographs or videos. This allows the digital image with its precise latitude and longitude to be positioned on a map.
What about GeoFencing and GeoTracking? Geotracking uses the GPS to determine the precise position of a vehicle, person or anything attached to the geotracking device. This allows the device to records its position at regular intervals and with the right software its position in real time on a map. A geofence is a virtual perimeter set around a real world area.
All this allows the development of Location Based Services (LBS). Apple has its Find My Friends app, allowing you to easily locate your family and friends from your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. At a conference you can temporarily share your location with your friends. With geofencing you can set up location notifications that will send you a message when your child leaves school. The wife of one colleague has set up her husband’s iPhone to send her a notification when he leaves work. You can also make use of LBS on your Android phone. Spoty is an Android app that allows you to set up location reminders, location alerts and location call blocking. The later allowing you to block calls from work colleagues while at home.
I have been playing with the LBS on my iPhone running iOS 6 and have set up reminders that show a password hint when I enter the grounds of the different hospitals I work in or a reminder as I leave work with the shopping list I need to use on the way home. One of the new apps on the iPhone is PassBook, which stores e-tickets and cards in one place. With LBS, you can set up Passbook to open your Starbucks card as you enter your local coffee house or have your ticket ready as you are about to board your flight.
Geofencing does have its problems. It’s not always that accurate. I have found myself driving near, but not actually past, my local Starbucks to hear the familiar notification sound that my Starbucks card is ready to be used.
There are some wider issues related to our privacy. Do we want to be geotagged and geofenced? Will we all be tagged one day as we enter our places of work and a notification sent to our managers if we leave early?
Most people are also not aware that the photos they publish to the Internet could be geotagged. The photos might not only give away your home address but if you are away on holiday they might divulge where you have gone.