Location-Based Services Poised for Rapid Growth – Part 2


Location-Based Services span everything from tracking the location of assets and shipments, to safety, location-aware marketing, locating vehicles, navigation, location-based social networking, and much, much more. Here’s a look at who’s providing these services.


As described in Part 1 of this article series, the range of location-based services is practically boundless. Here are some areas we are seeing these services being offered and some of the companies providing them.

Tracking and Locating Assets and Resources

Locating assets and resources is one of the most established categories of location-based services (LBS). People have been using GPS for navigation for decades. The military started using RFID to track the location of their containers almost 20 years ago. GM’s OnStar was launched in 1996, offering turn-by-turn navigation, remote diagnostics, stolen vehicle tracking, and a red emergency button that sends the vehicle location data and connects the driver to an OnStar call center. Over the past decade, GPS volumes have skyrocketed and prices plummeted so that now many individuals own GPS-based navigation systems as well. Now we are seeing many different types of asset tracking in hospitals, manufacturing plants, highways, railways, ports, distribution centers & really just about everywhere.

Tracking and Locating Assets and Resources

Savi Technologies

Tracking shipping containers and their contents as they travel across the globe.


Tracking the location of shipping containers within yards and other large sites.


Locating mobile assets within a hospital, such as IV pumps, beds, wheel chairs, as well as assets in manufacturing plant, warehouses, and yards.


In construction, surveying, agriculture, fleet management and field serviceguiding vehicles and equipment (tractors, graders, pavers, ), positioning & aligning building, road/rail corridor before and during construction, tracking vehicles, navigation, etc.

GiSTEQ, and most major cameras and smart phones

Photo Geotagging (latitude, longitude, altitude) and Geocoding (street address etc.), adds location information to photographs. Many of the smart phone applications are consumer oriented.

Garmin, Magellan, Tom Tom

GPS-based navigation for all modes of transportation (cars, trucks, boats, planes, trains)


Inertial and RF-based geolocation technologies and navigation solutions for first responders, soldiers, and others working in GPS-denied locations.

Navtrak, Dispatch GPS, Track Star, HunterPro

GPS-based systems for dispatching, routing, and tracking trucks, taxis, patrol vehicles, utility vehicles, school buses, delivery vehicles, etc.


World’s largest pallet leasing company; embeds RFID in their pallets, containers, to track location as those assets move around the world.


Tracks lumber all the way from the original tree to the mill to the manufacturer to retail outlet, to assure it came from legal forest operations. Also product tracking.

Ekahau, Ubisense, Aware­Point, Time Domain

RTLS (Real-time Locating System) for tracking assets and people in hospitals, retail settings, warehouses, and manufacturing plants.

Intelleflex, Tego, Tagsys, Fluensee

RFID-based (non-RTLS) asset tracking devices and systems, including high-memory tags for recording maintenance activities, condition, etc.

GE VeriWise

Telematics for managing global transportation assets, including trailer fleets, rail, marine. Using Satellite- and cellular-based platforms to track things like where and when a trailer starts and stops, if a door is opened en route, etc.


Locating forklifts and other vehicles in a warehouse

Tracking and Locating People

There are a variety of circumstances in which it is valuable to track people, including scarce resources (doctors, repair technicians, etc.), loved ones, and people in dangerous places.

Tracking and Locating People

Intelligent InSites, SYMX Technologies

Tracking patients, doctors, nurses, as well as pharmaceuticals, and equipment moving through a hospital.


Tracking location of family members based on the GPS from their phone


Anonymously tracks the movements of people through stores and other venues (e.g. banks) and analyzes their behavior and customer experience – where they go, what they respond to, how long they wait in line, etc.

The Copenhagen Wheel

This belongs in its own category, but we put it here for lack of a better fitting category, since it does track where a person has been on their bike. Developed at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, it is a bicycle wheel that capture energy from the bikes momentum when the brakes are applied, stores that energy in a battery, and then gives back that energy to drive a small motor helping the rider go up hills and/or pedal further. But in addition (here’s the location-based part), it periodically collects data including riding habits, calories burned and environmental datacarbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature, and relative humidityas you ride through the city (or country-side). Apparently, it stamps the data with location information to create a map of that information along the routes you cycle. The data can be shared, so if there are many riders, it creates a dense and granular environmental map of the city. Now that’s a cool LBS!

Safety and Security

Location information is increasingly being used to enhance safety and security – reducing incidents and responding to them more effectively when they do happen.

Safety and Security

Axcess International

Tracking location of people for emergency evacuation and zonal security. Also supports other functions such as trade show attendance, service, and contractor tracking.

BrickHouse Security

Child and/or Elder locators, with wander alerts.


Variety of GPS tracking devices, including covert GPS that can be hidden on a child to track not only if they wander, but in case of abduction.


Uses RFID for tracking the location and condition of railcars containing hazardous chemicals.


Location Aware Safety System, precisely tracks personnel in high risk environments.

911 ETC

RedConnect provides location information for emergency calls made from multi-line PBX systems that may span one or more campuses or large complexes.


Locates stolen vehicles or other high-value property.

Personal/Consumer Services and Location Based Social Networking

Location-based services for the consumer and location-based sales and marketing (next category below this one) are the hottest growth areas in LBS. Since the advent of the iPhone, Android OS, and smart phones in general, there has been intense competition and a plethora of new applications vying for the attention of consumershelping them find nearby friends, activities, stores and merchandise, and a variety of other innovations based on the user’s current location.

Personal/Consumer Services and Location Based Social Networking

Yelp, Where, Geodelic, TeleNav, Google Places Directory, OpenTable, HotelsNearMe, MyStarbucks, etc.

Find nearby businesses, services, entertainment – “where’s the nearest gas station, Starbucks, ATM, Hotel, etc.” – based on your current location.

SpotRank from Skyhook and SimpleGeo

Predicts the density of people in urban square-block areas worldwide at any hour, any day of the week based on anonymous location data from the tens of millions of devices running Skyhook’s Core Engine (including every iPhone and Dell netbook, and leading Android apps).



Place-based Social Networking: Users add “spots” and activities as they visit various locations, tell friends where they are, rate locations, get points for loyalty, become the “mayor” by visiting a location more than anyone else, etc.

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