What future for location based services?

What future for location based services?

Summary: Large numbers of drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area avoid "FasTrak" wireless toll paying systems because of fears over data privacy...


The VC community is very keen on geo location based business models, such as New York's FourSquare. But how much of a future is there for geo based web services?

Much depends on whether users will allow companies to track their locations and the establishments they visit. With Foursquare, every bar, diner, ice cream parlor you check into becomes a semi-public record. Facebook also gives semi-public access to a lot of lifestyle user data.

Insurance companies, or companies offering services to the insurance industry, will start tracking this data because it's valuable. Insurance companies will have a more accurate way of determining risk and rates.

People have had a cavalier attitude towards data privacy because they haven't had a clear feedback loop. But if they see their insurance rates rising because of the geo-data they are inadvertently publishing, they are sure to opt-out of any location based services.

People already are very suspicious of location based tracking. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are "FasTrak" lanes that allow cars to use a wireless device to automatically pay bridge tolls. Yet every day, there are hundreds of thousands of cars waiting in long lines, willing to pay an extra dollar -- not to be geo-tagged.

It would seem that the enthusiasm for location based services might be misplaced.

Topics: Banking, Enterprise Software

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  • Tollway tags

    I use one here in Australia and it doesn't take too much to figure out that
    getting from point A to point B in less time than the speed limit allows is
    a ripe little revenue plum waiting to be plucked by a Government
    "concerned for our safety".
    • RE: What future for location based services?

      Thanks very much. <a href="http://www.replica-hermes.org">replica hermes</a>
  • Proof?

    "Yet every day, there are hundreds of thousands of cars waiting in long lines, willing to pay an extra dollar ? not to be geo-tagged."

    Please provide links to multiple sources to back up this statement.
    • Yes, where is the Proof?

      I agree. How can you assume that just because someone does not have a FasTrak tag, it means that they do not want to be "tracked"? They could be someone like me, who only does occasional business in the Bay Area, and so cannot justify going through the trouble to get a FasTrak tag. About 300,000 cars cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge every day, and some portion of these drivers are just like me. Let's see some statistics to back up this claim, because I, for one, am skeptical....
  • Well, people were worried about phones in the house, then carrying cell

    phones, but, we got over it.
  • The world wonders

    What does VC stand for? Or do you even know?
    • What is virtual currency?

      I'll take Ambiguous Acronyms for $300, Alex.

      (My educated guess.)
    • Venture Capital (nt)

      Great Kahuna
      • another definition for "VC"


        is [b]Vulture Capital[/b]


        Often used by start up entrepreneurs who have been forced out of the company by those who just invested "money" (as opposed to sweat and imagination) in a business.
  • Depends...

    If you can turn it off when you don't want to be tracked, it might have a chance.

    For people worried about being stalked by ex-spouses or crazy ex-lovers, this kind of thing would be bad.
  • San Francisco Fastrak

    People don't use fastrak in the bay area because they are idiots, it has nothing to do with being geo-tagged, have you seen the people in the bay area, I would bet my kidney that they don't even know what geo-tagging is...well at least most east bay people...(no offense to east bay people...I live there...)
  • RE: What future for location based services?

    What's the difference between using a "FasTrack" or "EZ Pass"
    and the fact that they photograph every license plate that goes
    through a toll?
    Until they start tracking the toll "checkins" and calculating the
    time/speed and sending tickets, there's no reason to avoid
    using them. If "THEY" want to know where you are, "They" will
    find you.
  • RE: What future for location based services?

    The horse is long gone from the barn for this type of concern. Illinois along with a number of other states have had I-Pass or Ez-Pass toll collection systems for more than 10 years. Florida has Ez-Go or something like that. I don?t even know the acronyms for the others.

    In Illinois they provide users with tolls that are half the rate of the manual toll lanes. This cost saving along with the convenience of not having to wait in lines to manually pay the tolls is significant. With Open-Road Tolling booths transponder equipped drivers pass through the toll collection points at highway speeds. This saves significant fuel and time.

    You may signup for your transponder at the local supermarket. A refundable deposit and an initial credit of $40.00 gets you on the road.

    At what cost? Not sure what anyone can do with knowing that I passed through a toll booth at a certain time. There have been some instances where divorce lawyers have issued subpoenas for Toll Authority records to attempt to prove travel by straying spouses. They have assured users that the toll records will never be used to enforce traffic laws. Of course they are a government agency so we know how reliable that promise is. The lure of $200 speeding fines at the price of a postage stamp will too much for some politician to bypass.

    More and more of these toll authorities have reciprocal agreements. I recently traveled from Illinois to Maine and return via the various toll road systems without ever dipping into my pocket for coins or bills; a real convenience. Sure somewhere in a computer file there is a toll record of my trip. It likely matches up with my credit card records for gas, food and lodging purchases. Then add in the record of my cell phone switching for cell to cell through out the trip. There is probably also a record of my logging onto the internet each night from the motel to retrieve my email, etc. I don?t have a Twitter or Face Book or any of the other social networking accounts so I do have some small place to hide.

    But unless you are willing to forego many of your other conveniences and move to your cave I think your life is already pretty well documented in 1?s and 0?s.
    • True

      I think that if you use a cc or a cell phone anywhere, any of the toll way tags should not matter. Most electronic devices, cell phones, laptops, PDA's, some GPS devices all connect to the internet or WI-FI all of them leave a trail of where you are or have been. And most of them will also track what you were doing. So you can live in the modern world or in a cave. Your choice
  • Will competitive markets win out?

    The question of whether they succeed is whether as per
    your example, insurance companies can use data driven
    models to more accurately assess risks. The question the
    VCs are asking, will consumers whole-heartedly embrace it
    when their rates go down because the insurance company
    sees them going to whole foods, the gym, and driving the