“I’m waiting for my first pair of sunglasses with built-in GPS and a button for overlaying map data and providing navigation assistance right before my eyes. It will automatically check me into Foursquare and tweet my voice packets when I talk. It will then post it all to Facebook, which gets indexed into Bing, and my nearby friends will get pinged about what I’m up to. Of course, these sunglasses will be free because they project location-based ads when I pass by places that interest me.”

That’s the closing paragraph in a fascinating article on Bing maps by Chris Pendleton, a technical evangelist at Microsoft. Upon initial reading, these futuristic visions of how technologies will mesh and enable instant updating of visual and social media information may seem far-fetched. However, when you consider that Facebook has just crossed the milestone of achieving 500 million users after only 6 years you do have to acknowledge that the rate of adoption of new technologies gets ever faster.

One of the key observations in the article is Chris’s assertion that “mapping and location will become a fundamental part of our lives … map data will be integrated into everything we do” rather than be discrete, specialised mapping applications. 

We have already featured two examples recently on how public sector organisations are fully integrating mapping and location technology into their applications to improve their ability to deliver public services more efficiently and more responsively to citizens.  For example, all 33 London boroughs have launched the initiative – LoveCleanStreets - which uses mapping to identify and respond quicker to community problems such as graffiti and fly-tipping reported on-line or via smartphone apps. Leicestershire Constabulary has also fully integrated mapping and location technology into the force’s ability to allocate and monitor the resources they are using in neighbourhood priority areas dealing with local issues.

Both the LoveCleanStreets and Leicestershire Constabulary applications use mapping as an integral part of the solution to make their applications more accessible to citizens.  It will be fascinating to see how prevalent sophisticated mapping content becomes in an increasing range of citizen service applications in the months and years ahead. 

For the moment, I encourage you to read the PDF of Chris’s article here and be inspired by the potential for the future of mapping.

Posted by Ian