Sohail Abid of IdeasHut.com has posted some interesting questions about developing a local Location Based Services (LBS) platform in Pakistan. This is in the wake of recent announcements by Yahoo (FireEagle) and Google (see below) to make it easy for developers to use LBS. His thinking is that this local platform will be based on an existing solution such as Google and will be an open API which other developers can use to come up with their own apps. He wonders if the carriers will be receptive to this idea and how will such apps be received. I am posting an excerpt from the TGP thread below. My advice is to forget about the mobile carriers – there will be lots of ways to make it useful for individuals and businesses.
This thread aims to find/develop a foundation that can be used by mobile-applications to get the location of the mobile user. This has to be open and available to all mobile-developers without any carrier-dependencies.Background:
A few days ago google opened two programming techniques that can be used by mobile (web) developers to get location of users.
1) a javascritp call to google api that in turn gets city/country via the ip
2) new google gears geolocation api: “On mobile devices with Gears installed, the Geolocation API can use the cell-ID of nearby cell towers or on-board GPS (if either is available) to improve the postion fix”
How Does Google Do it:
Many phones with GPS connect to google maps application and share their lat/long and cell-tower-ids. google has thus made an approximate location data for cell-towers locations. And when a phone without GPS loads google maps application, it is given MyLocation based on the existing data collected via phones-with-gps.
Can We Use it for Pakistan
Unfortunately, it wont work that well because most people have phones without gps. And its unlikely that google has got the location data for most cell-towers. Moreover, this google’s api can only be used in web-applications. (and gears geolocation api is only supported for some handsets with Windows Mobile).
What Do We Need:
In simple words, we need a database of cell-tower-ids and their locations. Technically this would be available as an api for developers to use in their mobile applications. If telecom carriers agree to share the ID’s and Location info for their towers, a couple of volunteers can develop the API and make it available for everyone.
Question for YOU
If telecom carriers will agree to share this info? And how should we talk to them? Are you willing to join me or help me in this? Any suggestions or comments are most welcome.