GeoWeb Conference Highlights: A Place For Video?


Years ago, indeed, even decades, many looked at the Direct Broadcast Satellite industry, where they had found much of their early career development, and guessed that it would very likely be consolidating soon.

Based upon that assumption, I, too, figured that, to maintain my future in, and maintain my relevance to, the real industry I really believed in — which was the greater multichannel, pay TV industry — I would have to expand my knowledge to other areas that were similar to what DBS did.

Twenty years later, and still deploying that philosophy, Mixed Signals is addressing the recent GeoWeb conference in Vancouver. There, the interest centered on finding information about the delivery of video content to locations and to people based upon those locations, in particular through an interesting sub-area called Location Based Services (LBS).

What was once, when I began in this business more than 35 years ago, nothing more than a dream — of carrying data and video to devices that go wherever you go, and having that video relate to that location — is now in its infancy.

Geoweb, however, seems as a conference clearly more focused, for now, on delivering pure information based upon Geographical Information Services. GIS involves the merging of cartography, statistical analysis, and database technology. Yet, make no mistake, video, especially consumer entertainment video, is about ready to connect BIG TIME with GIS and, more directly, with its cousin, LBS, which involves a true emphasis on mobile devices.

In more detail, LBS involves identifying the location of a person or object, such as discovering the nearest banking cash machine or the whereabouts of a friend or employee. LBS can include, for example, parcel tracking and vehicle tracking services. Or LBS can include mobile commerce, when taking the form of coupons or advertising directed at customers based on their current location. And LBS can include personalized weather services and even location-based games. It is an example of continued and enhanced convergence in the telecommunications sector.

Five human traits, will drive this video-to-LBS transition: 1) to have fun; 2) to compete; 3) to stroke one’s ego; 4) to drive business; and 5) to motivate others.

If those in the business of transitioning video toward LBS can remember to include these “motivators,” just like any other avocation or occupation, they are more likely to be successful.

Yet, where it gets really interesting is when LBS and video information and entertainment find one another. And that is coming sooner than most in the pay TV industry fathom.

Sponsored at the top level by Google and a GIS company leader, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc., last month’s fourth annual version of the GeoWeb conference offered several hundred participants a chance to sample a good cross section of the future of this medium.

Interestingly, indeed ironically, the tag line or theme of the GeoWeb 2010 conference was, “Everything Is Connected.” Which brings this column full circle.

Look for more thoughts on this video-meets-LBS trend in the coming months.

Jimmy Schaeffler is chairman and CSO of Carmel-by-the-Sea-based consultancy The Carmel Group.