We seem to take a lot of things for granted these days, especially when we become comfortable and dependent upon technology to make our lives easier. For example, I will bet that you use Google Maps and real time traffic alerts in your daily commute. Why not? It is great and seems to magically update in very close to real time.
But, do you know how this works? Here is the explanation from Wikipedia:
Google Traffic works by analyzing the GPS-determined locations transmitted to them by a large number of cellphone users. By calculating the speed of users along a stretch of road, Google is able to generate a live traffic map. Google processes the incoming raw data about cellphone device locations, and then excludes anomalies such as a postal vehicle which makes frequent stops. When a threshold of users in a particular area is noted, the overlay along roads and highways on the Google map changes color.
These GPS locations are a public source of information. Just think about the value created here if someone had thought through the value of this information and arranged to capture it ahead of anyone else in the market. Might there have been a competitive advantage? Might there have been a stream of others who would gladly pay to get this channel of information?
Some of you are aware that we have done precisely that for the energy industry with our precision temperature monitoring data channel. You will hear more about this over the next few months as this scales up to the same level that these GPS locations do.
I want you to think about this every time you now use your Google Traffic service … that right now you get free … or do you really? You are being watched friends … very closely.