GPS Obsessed: LBS startups, social good and open government data in 2010

2009 was a huge year for location-based services and applications, especially in the mobile industry. But much of the “innovation” we saw in the past 365 days was, in my opinion, gimmicky or often just a variation of what came before. Just take a browse through the GPS apps for the iPhone in the iTunes App Store and you’ll quickly understand what I mean, if you don’t already.

But if 2009 was the year that location-based applications, services and businesses became something of a mainstream trend-however gimmicky-then 2010 will the year the industry becomes really, really useful (here’s some of my predictions). Expect to see big businesses acquire smaller ones, big and small businesses find profitable business models, and LBS technology not only being used for so-called friend-finding, but for social good as well.

By social good in this context, I’m referring to an innovation that aims to make people’s lives better and/or processes more efficient and effective (in both the business world and government), and is not necessarily profit-oriented but could be. In fact I think that startups and governmental bodies alike will work to make LBS a mainstream tool for social good in 2010.

That brings me to some of the things I’d like to focus on at GPS Obsessed in 2010. While it’s always been primarily a gadget blog-and will remain with a strong mobile gadget focus-this year I really want to spend more time highlighting the work of startups that do leverage LBS to contribute to the greater good of society.

I expect that many of those startups will crossover from other industries like, for example, energy and education. I also expect that alot of so-called social good LBS startups will emerge from competitions such as NYC Big Apps that encourage and reward the use of newly open government data to develop apps that make living in each respective city better (it that’s the appropriate word). It’ll be a bit of a coverage double-whammy in these situations because not only am I interested in the startups and developers involved but also the governments opening up the data (especially geospatial data) to the public in the first place.

Trendsetters like New York City, San Francisco, the United Kingdom, and Vancouver, Canada are admirable for leading the way in this regard, but I have high hopes for smaller governments (especially in Canada) to do the same. It would make me extremely happy if this blog could be a platform to push for that. At least from a geospatial angle.

So aside from the usual gadget coverage, that’s my hope for GPS Obsessed in 2010. A simple formula really.

  • LBS startups
  • social good
  • open governments with a focus on the geospatial niche

That’s what I see. I hope that you’ll at least join me in 2010, but even more so I hope that you’ll be actionably involved in this vision. Happy New Year! I hope all your visions for 2010 come to fruition.

  • Thoughtful post, I had not even considered free govt data. I'm on it now.
  • rosymarshal
    Wow. That's really great. I am looking forward to use it and have the cool GPS system. I am too excited for it.
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