Category Archives: Social Business

The Royal Wedding of Location & Results – Groupon: Lessons of the Social Business Game

The Royal Wedding

Friday 29 April 2011 marked a special day, the Royal Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton, the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge.  This gallant affair broke records as people leveraged the power of the web to connect to this event.  This is another example of how we are living in a “connected world”.  I recently attended a funeral with a very non-tech group of friends.  I was a bit surprised to see how they used video conference technology to connect family and friends from all around the world to the service.  Businesses and non-profit organizations are also using this astonishing web-based technology to reduce our carbon footprint on this beautiful planet on which we live.  Technology is changing how we live, work, and play, it is transforming our ideas of space and time.

The Social Business Game

Capitalizing on the Union of Location & Results

Businesses of all types need to know the results of efforts to attract customers, regardless of their size.  Typical target marketing methods of emailing, bulk snail mail, ads, and coupons usually included some type of special code to help measure results.  These codes identify the campaign and can be as simple as “Department Number” or “Redeem Code”.  This need to attract customers and measure results has not changed, but the tools have.  There has been a trend of moving marketing dollars from these old models into the web for quite some time.  Today we see tremendous success in new social business models like Groupon.  Similar businesses seem to be popping up daily, these other business models include: “livingsocial” and “Facebook Deals“.  These type of social businesses are drawing on two major trends—hyperlocalism and budget consciousness.  Location and Results seems to be a “match made in heaven”,    Groupon claims to have over 38 million subscribers, over 42 million groupons sold, and saved people over $1.5 billion dollars.

Social Business Lessons of Groupon

Seven simple lessons to help grow your social business.

  1. Create a Sustainable Business Model
  2. Seek to Understand Your Audience
  3. Build Trust
  4. Clear the Path to Participation
  5. Deliver Added Value
  6. Offer Opportunities
  7. Make it Social

How Location-Based Social Games, Apps and Services Work

Most mobile devices and modern web browsers can transmit your geographic coordinates (location) that is eventually expressed in latitude and longitude, a process known as Geocoding.  This location information can be used by a service to identify other people and places in the surrounding area of the person.  Capturing locations of a person over a period of time can be used to map behavior patterns.  This type of behavior engine is used for things like unlocking the mayor badge on the Social Game Foursquare.  If President Obama “checked-in” to the White House, his geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) could be “38.897614,-77.036515″  These coordinates on a Google Map would look like the image below.

An area such as Washington, DC can be expressed in a Geospatial Polygon for functions and visualizations in mapping services .  The Geospatial Polygon is created by a multitude of points (latitudes and longitudes) that form a shape of the identified area.  This list of latitudes and longitudes can reach great levels of complexity and size, even for small areas.  This complexity is simplified through the Minimum Bounding Rectangle (MBR).  The general area of location can be easily identified and processed though MBR.  A simple example of MBR can be seen on Google Maps in the image below.  This Geospatial polygon is (38.898712,-77.037984 38.898741,-77.035098 38.896403,-77.035098 38.896399,-77.03799 38.898712,-77.037984).

The service can now check if the person’s location is within the geospatial polygon (MBR) with an open-source API like “JTS Topology Suite“.  This process can be used to support real world location-based social games and services.  Check the resources below for additional support.

Thoughts on Privacy and Location

How critical is your exact location for location-based games and services?  What if these popular social games and services offered multiple options for protecting people’s privacy?   These options could provide people with choices in privacy levels that offer exact location or a range of areas.  These areas could be a range of geospatial polygons in the simple shape of a triangle.  This idea is based on how the same concept of how law enforcement identifies an area though “Triangulation“.  These levels of privacy could start with the person’s exact location (latitude and longitude) followed by an option for a 3 mile radius in the shape of a triangle.  Each level of privacy would multiply the previous by three.  This idea can also be supported with the use of Hexagons or MBR.

  • Level 1 (red dot in the image below): Person’s exact location (latitude and longitude)
  • Level 2: 3 mile radius
  • Level 3: 9 mile radius
  • Level 4: 27 mile radius

Where 2.0 2011, Diann Eisnor, “Game Mechanics and LBS: Crossing the LBS Chasm” in this video

She covers some very important topics in this video about the value of game mechanics removing barriers and much more.  This Where 2.0 video is worth watching a few times.

There is a priceless collection of resources available at the O’Reilly where 2.0 conference web site.

Resources for Creating Location-Based Games & Services

Geospatial Open-Source Tools & Services

Google Map Charts can help you can create a map with various countries or states highlighted in custom colors. You can let the map zoom to the proper level to display your selected countries properly, or you can zoom in or out to a custom level using latitude and longitude values.

Google Maps has a wide array of APIs that let you embed the robust functionality and everyday usefulness of Google Maps into your own website and applications, and overlay your own data on top of them.

Experiments with Google Maps – a very interesting collection of examples using the Google Map API.

OpenLayers:Free Maps for the Web – OpenLayers makes it easy to put a dynamic map in any web page. It can display map tiles and markers loaded from any source. OpenLayers has been developed to further the use of geographic information of all kinds. OpenLayers is completely free, Open Source JavaScript, released under a BSD-style License (also known as the Clear BSD).

The District of Columbia Geographic Information System (DC GIS) is coordinated by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) and provides District agencies and the public a “one-stop shop” for geospatial data and enterprise applications.

SpatiaLite is just a small sized SQLite extension. Once you have installed SpatiaLite (a very simple and elementary task), the SQLite DBMS is enable to load, store and manipulate Spatial Data (aka Geographic Data, GIS Data, Cartographic Data, GeoSpatial Data, Geometry Data and alike). SpatiaLite implements spatial extensions following the specification of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), an international consortium of companies, agencies, and universities participating in the development of publicly available conceptual solutions that can be useful with all kinds of applications that manage spatial data.