Location, location, location

Cross-carrier visibility emerges for range of enterprise apps

The possibilities associated with using location information in mobility applications are endless, and the wireless industry has only touched the surface.

Recently in the news was the Federal Communications Commission's ruling that mobile network operators would have to get more accurate in their ability to pinpoint wireless user locations during the course of the next eight years. The goal, of course, is to improve safety for those making emergency 911 calls.

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The FCC doesn't really care how the operators increase their precision, so long as they do. Likely, a hybrid of satellite-, network- and handset-based technologies will be required to get the job done.

Similarly, a mixture of these emerging technologies that deliver greater location precision is a boon for other applications, including many that enterprises can leverage. In fact, some cross-carrier enterprise location information services are already available to offer a dynamic view of what's going on across geographies. Most U.S. mobile operators, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, have partnered with a company called Loc-Aid, which offers a multi-carrier gateway for a consolidated view across all partner networks.

The company also offers a special location API for building apps that can keep track of 350 million mobile devices with no client software in the devices required.

Using the operators' services, business process managers are armed with information to help them better assess situations, respond more appropriately to them and better target users for marketing opportunities and customer service.

For example, transportation and logistics companies can improve their fleet management. They can see drivers' locations in real time without any driver interaction or effort. This could help improve customer service information about expected delivery times and also help dispatchers who know exactly where all fleet members are when new job arrives make more efficient dispatches.

In addition, general asset tracking, credit card fraud detection and dynamic SMS-based "proximity marketing" campaigns (texting mobile phone users about a nearby promotion, for example) are all possible when an enterprise can see what's happening almost anywhere at any given time.

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