2/28/2011

Location based services (LBSs)




In this age of significant telecommunications competition, mobile network operators continuously seek new and innovative ways to create differentiation and increase profits. One of the best ways to do accomplish this is through the delivery of highly personalized services. One of the most powerful ways to personalize mobile services is based on location. One of the most obvious technologies behind LBS is positioning, with the most widely recognized system being the Global Positioning System (GPS). There are however, other means of positioning in addition to GPS. These other technologies are network based positioning and typically rely on various means of triangulation of the signal from cell sites serving a mobile phone. In addition, the serving cell site can be used as a fix for location of the user.
Geographic data is an important aspect of any location system. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide the tools to provision and administer base map data such as manmade structures (streets, buildings) and terrain (mountains, rivers). GIS is also used to manage point-of-interest data such as location of gas stations, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. Finally, GIS information also includes information about the radio frequency characteristics of the mobile network. This allows the system to determine the serving cell site of the user.
It is not enough to be able to position the mobile user and know the map data around that position. There must be a location management function to process positioning and GIS data on behalf of LBS applications. The location management function acts as a gateway and mediator between positioning equipment and LBS infrastructure.
LBSs are important for cellular networks. Because when routing calls to a phone from tower or other way, cell towers listen for a signal from cell phone and negotiate which is best suited to make a connection with phone. This process is highly depends on the location of the phone and distance between phone to tower. Cell of Origin (COO) is one technology which uses for this purpose and it uses the network base station to identify the caller. Other than COO Time of Arrival (TOA), Angle of Arrival (AOA) like technologies also uses to track the cell of call and serve to the user. When phone is changing its location towers monitor it and phone is roamed to adjacent tower appropriately. So LBSs provide smoother cell transition without interrupting to the call. This has become popular among the operators as it does not require any kind of modifications to the handset or the network and also it is comparatively cheap to deploy. Also in order to provide real value to the customer of using mobile technology it is necessary to provide LBSs to him which simplifies his day to day activities. In order to do that it is required to identify the location of the customer; therefore LBSs are important to cellular networks.
Some services of the LBS as follows:
§  Location based information:-
Location based information have higher value than the general information. One of the best ways to personalize information services is to enable them to be location based. An example would be someone using their Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) based phone to search for a restaurant. The LBS application would interact with other location technology components to determine the user's location and provide a list of restaurants within a certain proximity to the mobile user.
§  Location based billing:-
The ability to have preferential billing is provided by this type of application. Through location based billing, the user can establish personal zones such as a home zone or work zone. Through arrangements with the serving wireless carrier, the user could perhaps enjoy flat-rate calling while in the home area and special rates while in other defined zones. This type of application can be especially useful when use in conjunction with other mobile applications such as prepaid wireless.

§  Emergency services:-
This is behind the scene LBS, that means if user dials emergency number, 119, in his mobile phone , a location based emergency service application that pinpoints user’s location and relays it the appropriate authorities.
            And also user can obtain the information about traffic jam in the road as well as about a disaster alert or an accidental situation like bomb blast.
§  Tracking:-
There are two types of tracking, tracking with dynamic distribution and tracking with static distribution. As dynamic distribution track the moving objects like taxies, ambulances, delivery vans, aircrafts etc and under static distribution track the important places like hospitals, restaurants, hotels police station etc.
§  Advertising:-
LBS easily used to advertising campaigns. It is more fruitful to advertise within the area rather than advertising in whole world if the business limits to some area.

Drawbacks of the Location Based Services as follows:
·         Threats to security.LBS can be use by terrorist to track the vehicles or important places to execute attacks.
·         Privacy issues. More importantly in person tracking (e.g.: skilled doctor) with the location may affect to his privacy.
·         May disturb the user. Time to time advertising causes to disturb the user.
·         Some LBSs are provides only for mobile devices which have GPS like technology, but this kind of devices may expensive than other.
·         Due to the propagation delay of information accuracy of the information can be vary.

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