Please Welcome the OGC!

By Asif Khan, President and Founder, Location
Based Marketing Association (LBMA)
and Mark Reichardt, President and CEO,
Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)


Summary
This article discusses the role of geospatial standards in advancing Location Based Marketing objectives.


orangearrowThe marketing value of location information has increased immeasurably with the proliferation of consumers’ mobile devices, the breadth of capability offered by advertisers’ cloud services, and the variety and quantity of location information. This article is about steps that marketing services companies can take to maximize this marketing value.

What a Difference Device Mobility Makes!

In a sense, “business geographics” is as old as the siting of marketplaces at road intersections and the confluences of rivers: Go where the customers are. Digital business geographics, or “business GIS,” brought unprecedented capability and speed to business decision making, and it is still an essential tool for tasks such as identifying and qualifying market opportunities; analyzing sales; planning marketing programs; and siting retail outlets, production facilities and distribution centers.

In the same sense, Location Based Marketing is also ancient. It’s rather like the digital equivalent of street merchants who size up passing market goers and call out to them with sales pitches that appeal to their profiles.

Today, the information technology underlying Location Based Marketing makes assessing sales opportunities— and avoiding sales pitches—much more sophisticated. Mobile devices configured to report location to an advertising service enable the service to return ads to the device that are selected and configured to suit the device owner’s particular profile of demographics, likes, preferences and requirements. That profile is developed partly from data collected over time about the user’s past purchases, content choices and travels and partly from information provided directly by the user. On the other hand, unlike someone strolling through a market in past ages, the consumer of today can, at least to some extent, set preferences that limit the delivery of advertisements.

A huge amount of consumer data is constantly being collected. Consumer data, including consumer location data, makes up a large portion of the “Big Data” that is accumulating in the cloud. Processing this data to deliver custom tailored and location tailored ads is one of the driving requirements for data analytics. See Figure 1 for the different types of location technologies required for Location Based Marketing.


FIGURE 1. Delivering location for Location Based Marketing requires multiple technologies. Graphic courtesy of OGC and LBMA.
FIGURE 1. Delivering location for Location Based Marketing requires multiple technologies. Graphic courtesy of OGC and LBMA.

Just as digital technology provides sophisticated means of “sizing up the customer,” the sales pitches, too, that are delivered via a digital device can be much more sophisticated than the street vendor’s. The smartphone delivering preference-tuned sales messages—messages sharpened over time by the consumer’s history of queries and purchases—comes to be seen as a reliable personal purchasing advisor, whereas people don’t take street vendors very seriously. Of course, it’s hard to match the personal face-to-face charisma of a good salesperson, but good salespeople can’t be hired for even a thousand times the cost of a personalized location-based ad.

With the emergence of real-time sensing between devices, the personalized ad need not even be on the device; it could be fleetingly displayed on the side of a passing bus or the surface of a billboard that the device owner is approaching on the highway.

Ultimately, consumers will decide if they want this kind of advertising or if they nd it to be an invasion of privacy. Certainly there are concerns about the diminishment of privacy through widespread and often unannounced collection of personal information. If there is less concern about surprisingly accurate tailoring and unexpected presentation of personalized ads, the reason will likely be that consumers see value in having a reliable “digital personal purchasing advisor.”

A complex value chain, as illustrated in Figure 2, is forming around Location Based Marketing. In this article we look at a simpli ed view of the links in that chain and we explore the ways in which Location Based Marketing stands to benefit from a geospatial interoperability standards platform that has so far been developed largely to meet requirements in other industries.


FIGURE 2. Location Based Marketing Ecosystem. Graphic courtesy of the OGC and LBMA.
FIGURE 2. Location Based Marketing Ecosystem. Graphic courtesy of the OGC and LBMA.

Consumers

The value chain begins with the consumer. The consumer may be at a desk, actively looking for specific products and services available nearby. Or, the consumer may simply be browsing through web pages, not thinking about purchasing anything, but being exposed to ads that have a high likelihood of attracting the consumer’s interest. An ad’s “value,” or likelihood of being of interest, is based on data previously collected and analyzed by the web browser’s advertising engine. Local proximity is one of the factors that the advertising engine takes into account.

Consumers who welcome this reality would surely like to have access to the widest possible collection of offerings, filtered of course, through their preferences. If it were possible, they would prefer not to be limited to one platform provider’s ecosystem of commercial providers.

Retailers

Retailers have been paying ad sellers to put localized ads on desktop displays almost since the Web began. The recent surge in interest in Location Based Marketing is due to the rapid rise of mobile Internet devices. Users of these devices may actively be looking for speci c products and services nearby, as the users travel along roads, sidewalks and malls. Or they may have set their smartphones or tablets to signal them when they come close to something they’ve been looking for or something that their digital personal purchasing agent is recommending.

A key area of interest to the Location Based Marketing industry, especially retailers, is indoor navigation. This involves indoor location sensing technologies and by extension, Big Data (both spatial and non-spatial data). The trend isn’t so much about providing a map to the outside of a store or a base map of the inside of a building. Rather, retailers are interested in what happens after a person enters the store or as they approach a mall kiosk. Where are they standing? Where do they want to go? When the consumer gets there, the retailer would like to deliver a custom offer via whatever device the consumer happens to be carrying (mobile, tablet, web-aware eReader, wireless enabled watch, etc.).

Retailers, like consumers, want broad exposure and options. They don’t want to have to choose among
different Location Based Marketing technology ecosystems. Ideally, they would be able to communicate with all nearby customers.

Service Providers and App Developers:
where the Benefits of Openness Begin

Location based marketing service providers and app developers implement and deliver solutions to retailers. Most location-based services (LBS) applications use maps of some sort, and there’s usually a cost associated with these. The market for “ at” 2-dimensional maps is dominated by two suppliers, Navteq and TeleAtlas, who supply companies like Google and Microsoft with data, to which these companies add value of different kinds. Consumers have free use of Google and Bing Maps, but businesses must pay to use maps from any of these four suppliers and their competitors. The OGC KML application programming interface (API) offered by Google and Bing Maps is an open API, but developers will need to use the proprietary APIs provided by the other vendors or by those vendors’ business partners.

All of these providers offer valuable products and services for developers, but being tied to proprietary sources of location data sometimes has its drawbacks. It is dif cult to change providers, and costs can scale rapidly with an application’s success. There are many other kinds of spatial data that a developer might want to add to an application, and it is a great benefit if all of the data are encoded in open encodings and available through open interfaces.


Consumer data, including consumer location data, makes up a large portion of the “Big Data” that is accumulating in the cloud.


Local government data, OpenStreetMap data and other sources may or may not be free, more accurate, more up to date, and more easily integrated with other data sources than proprietary sources. What developers need is an easy way to first get “data about the data,” so they can choose wisely, and then an easy way to access the data they choose to use. Standards could help meet both these needs.

For many applications and services it is important to provide public-safety answering point (PSAP), sometimes called “public-safety access point” information, which can be difficult with some proprietary formats. Some proprietary sources of data and services may not be available on all of the consumer device platforms that a developer wants to support.

For many applications and services it is important to provide public-safety answering point (PSAP), sometimes called “public-safety access point” information, which can be difficult with some proprietary formats. Some proprietary sources of data and services may not be available on all of the consumer device platforms that a developer wants to support.

Developers, by implementing on open platforms, can provide many benefits to retailers and consumers that are not available from ad providers that are tied to proprietary platforms.

As mentioned, we are looking at a simplified view of the Location Based Marketing value chain. There are many service providers along the chain, and they also benefit from openness. A service provider such as DMTI Spatial,1 for example, helps clients manage data governance and reduce marketing costs by ensuring data accuracy, providing customer segmentation models by trade area, proximity, demographic information and business type, ensuring the accuracy of information, monitoring changes from year to year, and so on. They are able to provide better value when they have easy technical access to more data and geo-processing computational services.

It’s also important to note that indoor maps – floor plans – are still largely owned by the building owners themselves, if such data exists. Much of Location Based Marketing is indoor marketing, and retailers can benefit if rights to this spatial data are available to a wide variety of service providers, so the retailers will be more likely to be able to communicate with all nearby customers, present and future, regardless of those customers’ device platform choices.

Open Geospatial Standards

Location Based Marketing stakeholders include platform companies, app developers, consumer products companies, media companies, wireless providers and others. For all of these stakeholders, their business sometimes depends on being able to get data from other sources or to be a source of data for others. They need to publish, discover, assess, access, process or aggregate such data.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, for various reasons:

→ There are many ways to encode even simple latitude/ longitude coordinates, for example.

→ There are many types of spatial information: indoor/ outdoor, imagery, GPS, vectors and polygons, “coverages” (temperature, signal strength, etc.), street addresses, etc.

→ Throughout location data service chains of publish/ discover/assess/etc., non-standard encodings and interfaces:

 → Limit data’s usefulness.
→ Limit options for using others’ data, including geo-
spatial data that makes location data more useful (such as a
street view attached to a Point of Interest).
→ Limit options for tools and components, including a vast
array of technologies developed in the last 40 years by companies focused on GIS, mapping, remote sensing, sensors, spatial databases and navigation. Most of these companies’ application programming interfaces implement open geospatial standards.
→ Limit the market for the offerings of data developers and software developers.
→ Limit access to international markets for data and software.

The world’s open standards for location and other geo- spatial information have been developed mainly by Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), a consensus standards organization that works closely with ISO, W3C, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), OASIS and many other standards organizations. In addition to interface and encoding standards, the OGC publishes best practices, discussion papers, white papers and engineering reports. Figure 3 illustrates how Location Based Marketing is one of the industries providing requirements to standards organizations for convergence of indoor and outdoor location standards.


FIGURE 3. Industry source of requirements to standards organizations for convergence of indoor and outdoor location standards. Graphic courtesy of OGC and LBMA.
FIGURE 3. Industry source of requirements to standards organizations for convergence of indoor and outdoor location standards. Graphic courtesy of OGC and LBMA.

While there is an open geospatial standards framework, there are still critical interoperability gaps.
Below are some of the OGC’s current areas of focus. All of these areas of standardization will ultimately expand the scope of Location Based Marketing capabilities.

→ Indoor location and navigation: The Indoor GML emerging candidate OGC standard defines a common schema framework for interoperability between indoor navigation applications. Work proceeds in communication with ISO/ TC204 and IEEE RAS efforts to extend existing standards to cover indoor space as well as outdoor space in a seamless way.

→ Indoor location and navigation: The Indoor GML emerging candidate OGC standard defines a common schema framework for interoperability between indoor navigation applications. Work proceeds in communication with ISO/ TC204 and IEEE RAS efforts to extend existing standards to cover indoor space as well as outdoor space in a seamless way.

→ HTML5: The OGC 3D Portrayal Standards Working Group is working on a candidate OGC standard service interface for Web-based scene graph rendering and image-based rendering of 3D city models. Development has involved communication with COLLADA and X3D and depend on W3C’s HTML5 and the Khronos Group’s WebGL. It is compatible with OpenStreetMap formats. HTML5 will gure in the evolution of other OGC standards

→ Augmented Reality: The ARML 2.0 candidate OGC standard encoding language for mobile Augmented Reality (AR) applications draws from the OGC KML standard (programming interface for Google Earthand other map browsers). Development proceeds in communication with the W3C AR Community and the W3C POI (point of interest) Working Group.

→ Sensor Web for the Internet of Things: The SWE for IoT draft standard addresses requirements not fully addressed by existing OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) standards: The SWE for IoT Standards Working Group is arriving at consensus on a compact encoding and protocol standard for battery-powered wireless sensors, location/ navigation in small areas, navigation-to-thing, context- specific ‘around me’ use cases, visualization in 3D city models and indoor models, space-time web navigation, Big Data, massive transaction rates, access to real-time location sources (sensors), semantic translation and privacy and access controls. 

→  OpenPOIs: This OGC initiative builds on prior work in the W3C. A working group has formed and an operational prototype database and application has been developed that demonstrates the value of an open PoI (Points of Interest) standard to integrate di erent sources of PoIs and enable quality analysis and other functions. The prototype database already contains names and locations for over 10 million business and civic places!

→ Big Data: Geospatial applications produce increasingly large volumes of data. Compute-intensive manipulation of very large volumes of data was previously available only to a limited number of users who had access to mainframes and supercomputers; now everyone has access to such processing in the cloud. The location based advertising server is quite likely running in the cloud: that is, the real-time computation involved in this scenario is taking place on vast processor arrays coupled with vast memory resources in remote data centers. Much of the user pro ling is done in advance to make sure response is quick and deterministic.

One other area of focus in the OGC that has special significance for Location Based Marketing is Data Quality. A recent study2 looked at over half a billion ads, purchased through some of the largest inventory providers in the industry. The study found that, “twenty-six percent of reported locations were off by over 10,000 meters, while less than 33% were accurate within 100 meters… More than 42% of impressions were off by at least 3,500 meters.”

Proximity is considered a determining factor in the effectiveness of a location-based targeted ad, and this study points to a need for a standard way to represent locational accuracy. The mission of the Data Quality Working Group of the OGC Technical Committee is to provide a forum for describing an interoperable framework or model for representing quality assurance measures, including uncertainty, provenance, fitness for purpose, etc.

OGC and LBMA

The Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) are working together on matters of mutual concern.

The Location Based Marketing Association (http:// www.thelbma.com) is a group dedicated to the fostering of a community of interest around all avenues of advertising and marketing as it relates to location-specific opportunities. This community is comprised of mobile, out-of-home, digital and print advertisers. The Association’s goal is to educate, share best practices, establish guidelines for growth and promote the services of member companies to brands and other content-related providers.

The OGC focuses on interoperability and market devel- opment for the geospatial technology industry. The OGC Interoperability Program (testbeds, pilot projects, and interoperability experiments) enables fast-paced, hands-on rapid prototyping and testing of candidate standards. The OGC Standards Program runs a Technical Committee with numerous working groups, and it manages liaisons with other information and communications technology standards organizations. The OGC also runs a Compliance and Testing Program. In addition, the OGC has a board-level Spatial Law and Policy Committee, which provides an open forum for OGC members’ legal and policy advisors to discuss the unique legal and policy issues associated with spatial data and technology.

The Location Based Marketing industry is at an early stage in its development, but it is expanding very fast. The Internet and Web themselves grew because they provided open standards that were necessary and suf cient to support commercial and non-commercial innovations of many kinds. The “Spatial Web” is similarly expanding, due partly to a platform of open standards. LBMA and OGC encourage Location Based Marketing stakeholders to make the best possible use of this free platform. Stakeholders are also encouraged to provide OGC with requirements that will shape open stan- dards that provide maximum value for this young industry.


OGC STANDARDS IN USE TODAY THAT
ARE PARTICULARLY RELEVANT
TO LOCATION BASED MARKETING:

OGC Geography Markup Language Encoding Standard (GML). GML is an XML encoding for the transport and storage of geographic information, including both the geometry and properties of geographic features. The NextGen 9-1-1 initiative in the U.S. and Canada is using an OGC Geography Markup Language encoding of their GIS Data Model for sharing key data themes between counties and PSAPs, etc. Large retailers who are concerned about safety can use implementations of GML to deliver indoor route evacuation plans to clients during res or other disasters, for example.

OGC CityGML Encoding Standard. Based on GML, this standard, widely implemented in Europe and other places, provides for the representation, storage and exchange of virtual 3D city and landscape models. Note that 3D urban models can be developed from aerial and satellite imagery. DigitalGlobe, the largest commercial provider of Earth imaging in the world, has made a major investment in OGC standards and in the OGC because they see the power of integration, information fusion, and augmenting the value of their licensed data with other data sources.

OGC Web Feature Service Interface Standard. A service interface specification for accepting query requests for geospatial features like those used in a Geographic Information System. Requests return GML feature collections.

OGC Web Map Service Interface Standard. A widely adopted service interface specification for returning a map image.

OGC Styled Layer Descriptor Encoding Standard. An XML encoding specification for associating cartographic symbols with features.

OGC Catalog Service Interface Standard. Provides the ability to search on registries of metadata describing resources and discover geospatial data and services.

OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE). Standards enable developers to make all types of networked sensors, transducers and sensor data repositories discoverable, accessible and useable via the Web or other networks.

→ OGC GEOXACML. A policy language that supports the declaration and enforcement of access to geospatial services. (GeoXACML is not designed to be a rights expression language. More work is needed in this area.)


FOOTNOTES:

1. DMTI Spatial was recently acquired by Europe-based mailroom solutions provider Neopost.

2.Is ‘Lat/Long’ Getting It All ‘Lat/Wrong?’ http://www.mediapost.com/publications/ article/211427/is-latlong-getting-it-all-latwrong. html#ixzz2iOHfokCz


AsifPhoto

Asif, a proud Canadian, is a veteran tech start-up, business-development and marketing entrepreneur with nearly 15 years experience. He is currently focused on working as a consultant, speaker and venture capitalist to the location-based marketing services community. In support of this, Asif recently formed the Location Based Marketing Association, an international group dedicated to research and education in the space.


MarkReichardtPhoto

Mark Reichardt is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC). Mr. Reichardt has overall responsibility for Consortium operations, overseeing the development and promotion of OpenGIS® standards and working to ensure that OGC programs foster member success.