I recently had the pleasure of speaking at this year’s GeoBuiz Summit in Monterey, California. The panel on which I co-presented was titled Location Data Platforms: Powering Anything Anywhere. The title refers to the evolution of high-accuracy location data to enable an increasingly wide variety of business and consumer applications. Anyone following this blog is well aware of Polaris Wireless’ legacy of innovating location technology to provide solutions for use cases ranging from public safety to hospitality and healthcare to other important uses.
I opened my panel presentation by referencing the declaration from about 15 years ago by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in his groundbreaking book that ‘The World is Flat.’ He was describing how globalization was about to change each and every aspect of our economic lives, but he could have similarly been referencing the focus of the location industry until very recently. The geolocation market has been designed and implemented for a world that is ‘flat as a pancake,’ with a focus on 2D maps, 2D location capabilities, and mostly 2D services. We all know that does not reflect our reality, with Smartphones providing the impetus for a major disruption in location technology accuracy that is driving more sophisticated geospatial intelligence.
With our strong emphasis on public safety, Polaris Wireless has benefited from being at the forefront of this technology disruption spearheaded by the FCC in the public safety market for the accurate location of 911 callers. We are one of the leaders that helped drive the most recent mandate stipulating wireless operators to implement accurate indoor location capabilities, including identifying the floor-level Z coordinate, nationwide by April 2021. With this in place, the broader consumer and commercial markets will benefit from scalable software-based citywide solutions rather than relying on highly variable local location coverage.
As I explained to the audience at GeoBuiz, with high-accuracy 3D location as the necessary foundation, the location industry must consider other factors when delivering 3D solutions for a 3D world. Performance is essential in order to drive demand and increase adoption. We are just at the beginning of the innovation curve today and I expect this metric to improve considerably over the next few years – certainly that is where Polaris Wireless is focusing. Beyond performance, we must deliver value (as defined by the end user) while respecting user privacy and usage preferences. For example, when it comes to public safety and dispatching first responders to save a life, there are not as many privacy concerns compared to someone receiving a location-enabled coupon for a free cup of coffee. We can and will continue to be guided by the public as to how much they are willing to trade value for privacy.
I am grateful to the organizers and my co-panelists at the summit and look forward to continuing this important dialogue with them.