What is Geolocation?


Everything on the Earth’s surface has a location that can be expressed with just two coordinates. Using new classes of geolocation tools, it is very easy to determine and capture the exact location of physical objects — and even to capture the exact locations where photographs and video are taken. It is also becoming easier to work with geolocation data: it can be plotted on maps; combined with data about other events, objects, or people; graphed; charted; or manipulated in myriad ways. Indeed, such data are leading to entirely new forms of mapping. Our devices increasingly have the ability to know where they are (and, consequently, where we are), and to routinely record our coordinates as we take photographs, talk to friends, or post updates to social networking websites. The transparency of this group of technologies — increasingly embedded in all sorts of devices — is making them very much an essential part of our lives. Recent advancements in mobile apps leverage geolocation so that users may learn more about a site they are visiting, or discover other people or places in their vicinity, making the areas surrounding them new and dynamic spaces for learning.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • Geolocation can provide new entry points for users; by marking up and linking content, users can use geolocation proximity search combined with traditional search to reliably locate relevant content - rurik.greenall rurik.greenall May 1, 2014 - andreas.kirstein andreas.kirstein May 6, 2014 - piguet piguet May 10, 2014
  • As the internet of things becomes more prevalent devices will generate a lot of data including geolocation information, this is likely to influence the delivery of many services in a more 'tailored' way to clients eg. push information relevant to location - mylee.joseph mylee.joseph May 6, 2014 - piguet piguet May 10, 2014 - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 11, 2014 Really like the idea of tailoring and pushing content - this is where libraries can improve relevance. - Sandy.hirsh Sandy.hirsh May 11, 2014~
  • We are seeing how attendance at physical events can be enhanced by networked technologies (e.g. Twitter and event hashtags) to enhance developments of professional networks. We could see further developments in this area in which librarians could have a role in supporting best practices. - ukwebfocus ukwebfocus May 8, 2014
  • Really appreciate the last bit of the definition about spaces for learning. Assigning knowledge and information to geographic locations with the intent of people accessing and adding to that info is fascinating. Sure, we must constantly be educating users about digital lifestyle concerns (privacy, etc) but the potential is most promising. - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 11, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Geolocation data exists in a crude form in many existing academic/research resources (controlled vocabularies/gazetteers); adding support for this technology is therefore is a quick win - rurik.greenall rurik.greenall May 1, 2014 - andreas.kirstein andreas.kirstein May 6, 2014 - piguet piguet May 10, 2014
  • Geo-location information about the location of individuals based on their mobile device raises legal and privacy issues such as the risks of disclosing one's location; the ownership of such information and the purposes for which it could be used. - ukwebfocus ukwebfocus May 8, 2014
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • Expressive data helps users locate content in new and interesting ways, visualize content and contextualize data contained in resources - rurik.greenall rurik.greenall May 1, 2014
  • Librarians have a role to play in advising users on assessing the validity of online information and in warning users of the risks of social media services. There will be similar requirements to be able to assess the validity the geo-location information and the risks of using geo-location services. - ukwebfocus ukwebfocus May 8, 2014
  • I see the potential for services /roles such as: Geo Curation and Stewardship: Who is better equipped to curate and take care of historical information/ learning objects linked to specific geographic locations but librarians? Or who might best oversee a hyperlinked data tour of sites around the campus. A librarian well-versed in mobile applications and the information architecture fits the bill nicely - maybe paired with museum/historical society staff in some cases. We might also see Embedded Local Experts. Students, etc might be able to link up with a local expert via a geo-social twitter like app and ask a question or some such. I toured the wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently. What if a Wright expert was connected to the site somehow, ready to offer up tidbits and answers via mobile devices during certain hours? How could that play out in the university setting? - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 11, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?