Since the smartphone has become our favorite tool, we have learned about the benefits of geolocation and accepted being geolocated permanently. We can now find our way on foot, by car or even by public transportation. We can easily find the nearest grocery store or dry cleaner, and we can calculate our travel time in advance. We are on time for our appointments and we are more efficient moving around. These are just a few examples of what can now be done thanks to geolocation. More recently, we have discovered recommendations that are more relevant for our lives plus useful information when Google and others have used our geographic coordinates to refine their answers. For brands and their marketing departments, this represents an opportunity to better target their messages and thus make them more efficient. The social networks that have become the catalysts of our conversations are also requesting our information and suggest, as a result, to geolocate us. This data can then be resold to advertisers, fueling their business models.
So why not cross the data between these conversations and the geographic location of a mall visitor and a movie theater? It is easy to see that it would be interesting to mix the exact position of a customer with their inquiry of a brand or a company on Twitter or Facebook to report any malfunctions. Thus, a customer who suffers from shopping queues that are too long will use their smartphone to signal their discontent and the company can listen in real time to their client and may decide to open a new checkout counter to unclog the queue in a few minutes. A promotion of the favorite shop of a client coming out of a neighboring movie theater can be served to them after reading their comment about the movie they just posted when the end credits had finished. More clever marketing uses of this cross-information are still to be imagined.
But there are other issues that can also arise from the geolocation of social conversations. For example, those of mobility or citizen security. Indeed, if we notice a large number of messages indicating a major accident (for example, a traffic accident or a weather phenomenon such as a tsunami or a tornado), the geographical position of transmitters may allow faster and more effective responses. These devices are already used by London airports to prevent flight delays or cancellations. In Africa, to cope with crowd movements following the elections or a spontaneous social movement, this cross-channel listening is also used via Ushahidi (a population mapping technology linked to social networks).
Two essential questions arise for those who wish to use this data effectively: on the one hand, the precision of the position provided can lead to errors (both in the marketing recommendation and in the on-site response), and the number of minimum messages required to validate the posting of a message on Twitter or elsewhere. It should be remembered that “fake news” is, alas, a scourge which spreads a little too quickly and which can also move crowds or cause completely unfounded reactions. With a certain amount of caution, these things should not prevent us from exploring these new boundaries and especially from progressing in the precision of the positions and the interpretation of the conversations of citizens or customers. The quality of the experiences we can provide comes at this price.