Sunday, July 03, 2011

The problem of mobile places in a geo-social world

I'm sitting writing this on a train, a specific train, the 06:37(ish) leaving St Austell Station and heading to London Paddington. Later in the week I'm going to take a specific train to Paris from London and then probably another to get back to the UK. A few weeks ago I took a specific flight to get to the US.

When considering the current state of the Geo-Social world its clear that movement is not something that is being expected of places but I think this is a classic case where a new technology can, and should, make it easier in the future.

Today for instance if you want to find out if a UK train is on time then your best bet is to go for something like Live Departure Boards which tell you about trains to a station and from there you can find out about a specific train.

Now however lets imaging a future world where moving entities are integrated into Geo-Social solutions. Now instead of "checking in" to the station, I would "check-in" to the actual train. This would then allow me to be automatically tracked, if I want, as my journey progresses until I "check-out" of the train at a specific station.

What are the advantages of this? One of the first is that for plane journeys people could check-in and the person picking them up could check their profile, via FB for instance to get the flight details and from there actually get the current status of the flight, its gate information, etc. Someone picking someone up from a station, or waiting for someone in a meeting, could see that a train is delayed and hence the person will be running late. Indeed by automating these pieces through Geo-Social you could set up notifications of delays automatically in the way that certain travel companies enable you to do today when, and only when, you book tickets with them.

Now there is of course the obvious privacy question of being able to track someone for an extended period of time, but for me if you are signing up to geo-social then you should be considering your privacy and what to share/not to share on a regular basis.

Part of this post is about prior art, namely me making sure there is something on the internet that could be cited as prior art if some numpty in the US tries to patent the idea of mobile geo-social places. The other part is prediction that this will happen.

Geo-social for public transport I can certainly see... for private transport? Probably only in the valley.

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Lee Provoost said...

Lufthansa has already something like this:

Steve Jones said...

There are a few out there, Orbitz does a thing for its customers as well. What I'm thinking though is that these single provider solutions have the ability to be replaced by a geo-social place (for instance if airline information is integrated into Facebook places).

Possible start-up idea, wish I had time to code it!