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Location-Based Services

Location-Based Services Definition

Location-based services (LBS) refers to services that are based on the location of a mobile user as determined by the device’s geographical location. LBS applications provide services and information that are most relevant to the user at that location.

Generic location-based services (LBS) image showing geotagged places on a map of the city.
Image from LSA Insider


What are Location-Based Services?

Location-based services combine geospatial technologies, information and communication technologies, and the Internet to provide targeted information to individuals based on their geographic location in real-time. Mobile location-based services consist of the location-based services software, a content provider to provide geographic-specific information, an end user’s mobile device, a positioning component, and a mobile network to transmit the data.

How Do Location-Based Services Work?

One method for determining the geographic location of a mobile user is with the use of the mobile phone network and the cell ID, which can pinpoint the location of the base transceiver station. Another method is the use of GPS satellites, which is a more accurate method as many smartphones are built with GPS receivers. Short-range positioning beacon location based services, such as WiFi or Bluetooth location based services, may also be used to geolocate mobile users using indoor location-based services.

Once the geographic location of a user has been determined, mobile app location-based services are categorized as push-based, such as marketing information being displayed to a user based on their location, or pull-based, in which the user requests location-based information, such as querying “restaurants open near me.”

Types of Location-Based Services

There are four primary types of location-based services: maps and navigation; tracking services; information services; and applications. 

  • Maps and Navigation: maps, routing, and assisted navigation services
  • Tracking Services: real-time traffic updates, vehicle tracking, friends and family finder 
  • Information Services: local contacts search (White/Yellow Pages), city guides, user generated content 
  • Applications: context advertising, social networking

Location-Based Services Applications

Popular location-based services apps include but are not limited to: 

  • Assistive healthcare systems
  • Contextualizing learning and research 
  • Games directly influenced by the real-life movements of the player’s avatar 
  • Location-based mobile advertising
  • Querying the nearest business
  • Recommending nearby social events
  • Receiving alerts, such as traffic jams or Amber Alerts
  • Recovering stolen assets with active RF
  • Sending a mobile caller's location during an emergency call
  • Tracking a NASA lunar lander
  • Tracking people on a mobile map application
  • Turn-by-turn navigation  

The three main models for location-based tracking apps on mobile devices include: Google Latitude, Find My Friends, and Nearby. Functions and features for mobile technology location based services may include: support from an operating system, availability on web application, user identification, frequency of location updates, stale location behavior, location history, location sharing, bilateral sharing of location with friends, manual location configuration, check into nearby place, custom location labels, sources of friends' names and photos, and a maximum distance for calculating friends' locations.

Some popular location-based mobile apps include: Waze, Google Maps, Trip Advisor, Lyft, Uber location based service, Instagram, Foursquare location based services, Pokemon Go, Dark Sky, Curbside, Target, Gas Buddy, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.

Does HEAVY.AI Offer a Location-Based Services Solution?

HEAVY.AI helps address the challenge of precision location and geospatial insights at scale. Mobile positioning and location providers leverage huge quantities of Wi-Fi, cellular, and other sensor and technology data to refine user and device locations for location-based service applications. HEAVY.AI's advanced geospatial solutions help these providers run, map, visualize, and interact with billions of data points on real-time, interactive geo charts, enabling providers to improve the quality of precision location for location-based services applications.