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PlaceConf: Google Looks Beyond Lat-Long to Contextualize the Physical World

In the location intelligence spaces (online-to-offline, proximity marketing, indoor, etc.) much is made of the importance of location data accuracy, and for good reason. However, today at Place Conference in Chicago, Google’s Chandu Thota said that location data accuracy – simple lat-long coordinates – is overrated.

Thota, taking a consumer-centric perspective, said that Google’s efforts to understand context is intended to improve consumer experiences in the real world, specifically at points of interest (stores, venues, parks, etc.). As an example of this, Google launched a pilot program in Amsterdam, rolling out beacons across the city to make it more “contextual.”

The discussion of location is now increasingly moving indoors. Thota shared a stat that 90% of our waking time is spent indoors, suggesting that understanding indoor locations is will help create more contextual use cases of location data.

Interestingly, smartphones have 12 types of sensors that can help identify consumer location, however Thota said that the location industry is primarily leveraging just three of these. These technologies are critical in helping “translate the blue dot to physical places.”

The next use case of location, according to Thota, is making information about a place accessible when a user is at that place. Users expect more from the technology they carry with them everywhere and location providers need to better understand the context that is associated with an actual physical space.

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