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location-based services

Greg Schwartz
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Joined: May 11, 2003
Posts: 132
The article,J2ME an Location-Based Services, mentions

Applications can call on any of several types of positioning methods.
Using the mobile phone network: The current cell ID can be used to identify the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) that the device is communicating with and the location of that BTS. Clearly, the accuracy of this method depends on the size of the cell, and can be quite inaccurate. A GSM cell may be anywhere from 2 to 20 kilometers in diameter. Other techniques used along with cell ID can achieve accuracy within 150 meters.

Using satellites: The Global Positioning System (GPS), controlled by the US Department of Defense, uses a constellation of 24 satellites orbiting the earth. GPS determines the device's position by calculating differences in the times signals from different satellites take to reach the receiver. GPS signals are encoded, so the mobile device must be equipped with a GPS receiver. GPS is potentially the most accurate method (between 4 and 40 meters if the GPS receiver has a clear view of the sky), but it has some drawbacks: The extra hardware can be costly, consumes battery while in use, and requires some warm-up after a cold start to get an initial fix on visible satellites. It also suffers from "canyon effects" in cities, where satellite visibility is intermittent.

Do any current phones allow developers to implement the Location API based on the "mobile phone network"? I know GPS phones can take advantage of this functionality but wasn't sure if other, non-GPS phones could as well...
Thanks!
Greg
Michael Yuan
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Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Yes, the location API is designed to allow both modes of operation. But I am not aware of any implementation that actually supports the network mode (I maybe wrong though). The difficulty lies in how you get data from the carrier. In order to get location data from the network, you'd likely need to work out a business agreement with the carrier. They do not provide this data for free. Also, there is a range of authentication and privacy issues to consider.
I worked with MS's MapPoint Location Server in the past and they have recently announced location data support from 1-2 US carriers. If it is so hard for MS to get carrier support, you can imagine how hard it is for individuals!
So, network location is an excellent idea but the carriers must make it less restrictive to use.


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Greg Schwartz
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Joined: May 11, 2003
Posts: 132
Thanks for that info Michael. The technology is pretty neat but I guess it is a matter of how much information carriers want to pass on to developers.
Was your work with MS Map Point at a J2ME level? Did this require GPS phones?
Michael Yuan
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Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Originally posted by Greg Schwartz:
Was your work with MS Map Point at a J2ME level? Did this require GPS phones?

No, it is SOAP Web service -- so it is not tied to any client platform. (We are prototyping using .Net CF at this time though). The location data come from the carrier. So, there is no GPS needed. You can locate *any phone* in the network assuming that you have a privacy agreement with that user.
a sanjuan
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Joined: Jun 12, 2002
Posts: 164
greg:
all j2me location service companies use gps phones right now, i believe...there are several of them as far as i know, espcially crowded around Nextel's IDEN.
Greg Schwartz
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Joined: May 11, 2003
Posts: 132
I've seen a lot of information about GPS location-based functionality. The position methods using "a carrier's wireless network" was what originally caught my eye. I was under the impression that this really didn't exist yet and just wanted to verify that. Hopefully this will be supported in some form in the near future. Thanks for your posts!
Michael Yuan
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Originally posted by a sanjuan:
all j2me location service companies use gps phones right now, i believe...there are several of them as far as i know, espcially crowded around Nextel's IDEN.

I can start a "j2me location service company" and use MapPoint (carrier based location) as my backend today. Seriously, Russell Beattie's waveblog has J2ME/Symbian based client and uses carrier location info.
The carriers are required by government regulations (E911 initiative in the US) to locate their users and gather location data. They just do not make it available to small time developers like us. But if you have a business, you can deal with them.
I hope the carriers will wise up and set up developers programs for their location data in the future. There are so many possibilities!
Michael Yuan
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Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
While we are still at the LBS topic, Wharton/Directions/IDC have a location-base service conference coming up in May:
http://www.locationintelligence.net/
It is only $500 for two-days of activities. Sounds very interesting. I wish I have time to go.
Greg Schwartz
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Joined: May 11, 2003
Posts: 132
Very interesting Michael. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us.
Best Regards,
Greg
a sanjuan
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Joined: Jun 12, 2002
Posts: 164
Originally posted by Michael Yuan:

I can start a "j2me location service company" and use MapPoint (carrier based location) as my backend today. Seriously, Russell Beattie's waveblog has J2ME/Symbian bas


very true, however there are several companies that actually have J2me-based implementations running on client fleets that i know of (or at least, i believe they've deployed them last i checked). it's fairly simple to create the apps, the problem is marketing them.
Greg Schwartz
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Joined: May 11, 2003
Posts: 132
I was curious if anyone has an updates on this topic. Aside from Nextel's GPS services, are any other carriers actively working with developers to bring to market LBS based applications?

Prior posts mentioned that bigger companies can make use of a carrier's LBS data if an agreement is in place. Does anyone have any examples of this (i.e. a third party company working with a carrier to utilize their customer's location info)?
[ March 18, 2005: Message edited by: Greg Schwartz ]
Yuri Magrisso
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Joined: Sep 13, 2003
Posts: 58
Hi,

I am working on an application that requires LBS provided by the network carrier, but it is in an early stage and I don't have a lot of info to share.

I found Ericssson's Mobile Positioning System to be the most accessible for developers: http://www.ericsson.com/mobilityworld/sub/open/technologies/mobile_positioning/index.html
If the network operators that concern you are using it (http://www.ericsson.com/mobilityworld/sub/open/technologies/mobile_positioning/faq/category1.html#q5)
you are in luck

Yuri
Greg Schwartz
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Joined: May 11, 2003
Posts: 132
Yuri -- Thanks for those links.

Do you know if the carriers listed (i.e. Cingular and AT&T) currently support Ericsson's MPS or only have announced that they intend to support this? If I developed an application with MPS, could I deploy it today and have access to a handset's position data? Have you successfully tested your MPS application with any US carriers?

Thanks again,
Greg
Yuri Magrisso
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Joined: Sep 13, 2003
Posts: 58
Hi Greg,

I am working in Israel and I don't know what is the situation with the US network operators.
We are in the process of seeing how to work with the Israeli operator listed - there aren't any open developer programs in Israel too.

Yuri
Greg Schwartz
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Joined: May 11, 2003
Posts: 132
As far as I know, Nextel is the only US carrier that one can use the J2ME location API with. This requires a GPS enabled iDEN handset. Does anyone know if Cingular, AT&T, SprintPCS or Verizon currently support this API or offer similar functionality to developers?
 
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subject: location-based services