What is Location Intelligence?

Location intelligence refers to the mapping of the geographic relationships associated with data. Resources including GIS are used to provide individuals and organizations with information about how people are interacting with various applications and services based on their location. Smartphones and tablets are naturally driving the proliferation of this technology because of their built-in location-sensitive sensors and other features. A growing facet of location intelligence in libraries is location-based services (LBS) that provide content that is dynamically customized according to the user's location. New location intelligence technologies are extending that capability into buildings and interior spaces with remarkable accuracy. A recent compelling development for location-based services is the advent of indoor geolocation, which is providing users with very specific information tailored to their exact location within a space, allowing fine-tuned information or services to be accessed from their exact location in 3D space, so that even different floors of a building can be identified.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • It's the opportunity to deliver content when and where it is relevant. Through a digital device, that content can be text, audio, or video. It expands how much museums can offer, and how they offer it. It allows us to purposefully drive content to the viewer rather than hope they view what we provide. - ortiz ortiz Feb 16, 2016
  • Location Intelligence has the ability to offer a personalized experience to individuals while visiting the museum. Additional content can be delivered directly to the individual to enhance their understanding while saving space for the museum. - emily emily Feb 23, 2016
  • The data collected on visits (in aggregate) let the museum know what galleries, exhibits and objects are hot and cold. You can learn what are common paths through the museum and provides the technology to (at least) improve signage and (at most) offer full-blown way-finding. After recording baseline behavior of visitors, museums can begin to study how improvements to galleries, didactics or signage improves or makes worse the visitor experience. - dallen dallen Feb 28, 2016
  • I concur that the use of this technology for visitor studies is intriguing, if mildly creepy. This also raises, for me, the larger question of evaluation of visitor experience, and particularly in regards to technology in museums. More on that later.... - weberj weberj Feb 28, 2016
  • One of the interesting things to think about is not just how this technology can be used to push content to a persons smartphone but how this technology can be used to enhance the space a user is in. So the device may trigger something in the environment vs the user having to look at their phone to leverage this technology. This has the potential to offer unique experiences tailored to a user as opposed to every user triggers content in the same way. - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016
  • Wayfinding and signage remains a great challenge for many museums, particularly those with new buildings or expansions. Locations intelligence can quickly help a visitor overcome the feeling of being lost or missing something, as well as enhance their visit by potentially providing a filtered/customize experience based on personal preferences, time schedule or past interactions. This technology should be looked at not as an end in itself, but as another variable for facilitating the dynamic integration of experiences. - scott.sayre scott.sayre Mar 2, 2016ssayre

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Because of the immaturity of this sector, a survey of relevant technologies (and their differences) would be beneficial. Access point MAC storage, triangulation, beacons and Wi-Fi, ByteLight (Li-Fi), etc. are some of the technologies being explored. - dallen dallen Feb 28, 2016
  • While the delivery of content is very important (and part of a magical visitor experience), the ability of these systems to collect data and report on visitor behavior is also key. - dallen dallen Feb 28, 2016 I agree this, could be a huge plus for museums - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016
  • One thing I find interesting is the possibility that location intelligence can allow a museum to expand beyond it's walls. Particularly for history museums that are trying to convey the stories of how their cities developed, the progress of military engagements, the locations of social changes (Trail of Tears, Freedom Marches), etc. Location Intelligence can aid museums in helping people understanding they are standing in the place of history. - heathermarie.wells heathermarie.wells Feb 28, 2016 - chuck.patch chuck.patch Feb 29, 2016 This is also something that occurred to me. Particularly in the case of environments external to the museum proper (or if the "museum" is a historical site) there are obvious and powerful synergies between this technology and augmented reality.
  • While I acknowledge there is promise in LI for some users in some situations, the widespread notion that these technologies could enhance museum visits as such is flawed. In the wake of technology being omnipresent in everyday lives, we know that many of our visitors deliberately opt out of using tech gear while at the museum, seeking out a space of contemplation, uninterrupted by the online world. This is tied to the debate on Wearable Technology. - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016
  • Agreeing with Merete here. Many visitors see the museum as a place of respite from the technology constantly in our lives. How can we offer a space for these visitors? - margaretsternbergh margaretsternbergh Feb 29, 2016
  • Jumping off of what Kyle said in the previous question-- I think there is a lot of thought (and some concern) about the impact of pushing content (even though the potential is there), and how that will affect the visitor experience. But the idea that the visitor might affect the space? That has the potential to feel magical. - jfoley jfoley Feb 29, 2016 +1 - laura laura Feb 29, 2016
  • The temporal variable associated with locations intellegence can provide a 4th dimension in both assessing and responding to visitor experience and interaction.- scott.sayre scott.sayre Mar 2, 2016sayre

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • There is a near term (1-3 years) impact for this technology. Audiences are becoming more familiar with it. As people become used to it, and come to expect it, museums will need to embrace it. The technology is becoming more affordable for museums. Compare to how websites like Netflix and Amazon connect people to products or content they will enjoy. This could allow museums to do the same, but at the museum in the galleries. It is heavily tied into BYOD trends. - ortiz ortiz Feb 16, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016
  • At the moment, I think that the experience of actually using these technologies is underwhelming. We're still a long way off being able to pinpoint a visitor, know which of the display cases in the vicinity they're facing, and whether they're looking towards the top or the bottom of the case (thinking of a museum example, rather than art museum example where the gallery space might be simpler to interpret for location systems). I have experienced one or two good examples, but mostly the offering seems to be 'here's some stuff around you, you do the work of rummaging around to find what you're interested in.' I may be unduly harsh in my appraisal but I think we have a way to go before indoor locating systems really actually help the visitor. - ewallis ewallis Feb 28, 2016 - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Feb 29, 2016and is there maybe a better, low-tech solution?- margaretsternbergh margaretsternbergh Feb 29, 2016
  • I think we are at a tricky time for this technology. Audiences are starting to understand it, but they are cautious about it. Platforms are not able to specifically explain why they want to know your location so users are cautious to agree. Then there is the time it takes to figure out the hardware side as it is still being developed. Most museums seem to not have the time or resources to devote to trail and error with hardware, so there is a reliance on larger institutions to figure out these questions and then smaller institutions will probably start using them more. - heathermarie.wells heathermarie.wells Feb 29, 2016
  • The potential for this is huge, but it still comes against the large problem of needing users to download your app and actually use it. Currently there are not a lot of compelling reasons to do so. Museums need to think about how this will enhance the visitor experience and not make them stare into a 4-inch rectangle for most of their visit. I think using this to assist with technology onsite and allowing content and interactions to be tailored to the visitor are going to be a key way forward with this technology. - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016
  • We aren't totally there in terms of the super specific accuracy (as ewallis mentions above). For visitors, many of them have used things like Google maps and see this as analogous-- why can't it get me exactly to the location the way Google maps does? There is still appreciation for the assistance in location-finding, but for visitors it doesn't yet feel transformative, and likely won't until that granular level of connection is possible. Without the creep factor and push notifications. - jfoley jfoley Feb 29, 2016
  • My sense is that the transformative effects of this technology are taking place in the greater world already, and that in the museum, it needn't be transformative so much as simply helpful. So wayfinding applications that use LI technologies could begin by providing a functionality that many visitors would love, and build from there. Looking at these technologies, I'm repeatedly struck by how transformative they would be when used in combination, which I'm certain will be the case. ("If you liked this exhibit, you might also like this one. It currently has no line, and you can reach it in 6 minutes.") I understand that the underdeveloped nature of this technology will make achieving a scenario like this difficult (not to mention facilities that have a tendency to sport 18" thick granite walls), and that acquisition of data on individual users will be even more difficult, but I think that we'll see quite a few implementations at the simpler end of this scale in the near to medium term. - chuck.patch chuck.patch Feb 29, 2016
  • In many current museum environments, much of the content we discuss here being delivered is currently provided by people (docents, staff, etc). While some of it could easily be delivered by a device, we start losing the human connection that is often so vital in a museum experience. I think as museums continue to integrate this technology there is a need to chose carefully how content and experiences are delivered with a balance between the digital and the in-person.- margaretsternbergh margaretsternbergh Feb 29, 2016 - chuck.patch chuck.patch Feb 29, 2016 yes.
  • Regardless of platform and or direct user experience, the potential metrics that museums are able to collect through this technolgy regarding user visitor experience and interaction holds great promise. - scott.sayre scott.sayre Mar 2, 2016ssayre

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?