A Geolocation API allows a user to provide their location to web applications.
Geolocation APIs are necessary for Location Based Services and Location Based Apps. If it is a web service or a phone app that either tells you your location or gives you the location of things in proximity to you, tracks activity happening in other locations, lets you discover place names, longitude, latitude coordinates, generates a route on a map or travel itinerary, it is most likely powered by a Geolocation API (GEO API for short).
- Covid Contact Tracing
A great example of the use of Geolocation APIs benefiting society is Google and Apple providing developers with an Exposure Notifications API, which tracks the location of user mobiles and notifies them of possible exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- Fitness step counter
Many people are comfortable sharing their location information to sport tracker apps so they can see distances they have covered and compare performance with other users. These apps are useful for organising team events where the locations of other participants can be tracked. The increasing use of sport tracker apps to publish general user information to the web has in the past been criticised as potentially sensitive information about the location of staff on military bases. People working in high-security industries must be very careful about what apps they install on their phones.
- Find a lost device or child
Sometimes it is necessary to be able to track vulnerable people. Geolocation APIs are increasingly being integrated with telecom network APIs. There are now geolocation services that can get a mobile phone’s geolocation and works on all phone types, networks, and countries and can be used to find a missing phone. Increasingly parents are signing up to mobile geolocation services for peace of mind to know where their child is on a map.
The widespread adoption of mobile devices with GPS among teenagers has motivated developers to develop many new types of gameplay that blend the digital and the real world. Pokemon Go is an immensely successful location-based app. ‘Pokémon Go works by overlaying virtual creatures over real-world locations using your phone’s camera and GPS sensors. So when you’re out on your morning jog or walking home from school with friends, if there are any Pokéstops nearby (marked as blue cubes on your map), they’ll appear right before your eyes!’
- Maps, route planning
Businesses love using GEO APIs in route planning software. Using AI software with GEO APIs can generate the most convenient travel itinerary and maps for people to follow. For businesses, this means more customer visits and fewer miles on the road. Employees can get the quickest route to a destination, even when there are multiple stops.
- Maps, find nearest facilities
With a find nearest API that uses Geolocation, you can create a software where you can click anywhere on a map and find out which other marked facilities on that map are nearest to that spot. This type of functionality has many personal and business use.
- Fleet tracking of delivery vehicles saving fuel costs
Geolocation APIs help companies know where their vehicles are 24/7 through real-time track and trace. Companies using Geolocation APIs can cut driving time and optimize drop routes which can save as much as 20% on fuel & maintenance costs by monitoring and analysing driving behaviour. This leads to improved service levels and makes it easier for companies to comply with regulatory guidelines such as mileage & work time registration & tachograph info download.
- Find the nearest taxi, matching nearest vehicle to nearest client
Geolocation APIs are also used in the technology for ride-hailing services (known as app-taxis or e-taxis) Matching passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire.
- Car-pooling reducing carbon footprint
Many local authorities are trying to improve their carbon footprint by setting up car-pooling websites so that people can lift-share with each other. These websites don’t track vehicles, but algorithms are needed to calculate the shortest distance between one location on a map and another, sometimes tracking the login location of a user.
Many examples of geolocation API are based on the location of a person’s mobile phone or computer accessing a service, or a mobile tracker placed in a vehicle. This technology extends to drones that survey locations and use inbuilt measurement tools to generate accurate 3D maps and models and reference that data to a geographic location.
- Directing website visitors to the correct language and country version of your website
IP Geolocation API is a technology that provides geolocation information for an IP address. IP Geolocation API provides location information of website users. It also enables website/app publishers to offer better content and services to their users based on their location
- Mobile workforce management
Geolocation APIs are an integral part of security authentication for checking if employees are logging in from expected locations in location-based services (LBS). Logistics-dependent companies that employ people in multiple locations, an LBS allows an employee to check in at a location using their mobile device. Businesses with remote workforces often rely on software that uses geolocation APIs to ensure workers are where they need to be.
- Film recommendations based on geographical area and laws
Netflix and other online film API uses Geolocation APIs to determine what films they are allowed to serve their customer.
- Social Media monitoring, e.g. analyse Tweets near a certain location event
Almost all social media websites have their own geolocation API which enables them to know the locations of the devices social media users are using and companies are willing to pay to get data for doing sentiment analysis of different topics across the world.
- Proximity-based marketing
Geolocation APIs can be used to track where customers have walked in a shop with their devices to analyse items they have browsed. If you have accepted cookies on various websites and downloaded various apps, apps might be tracking your shopping geolocation habits.
- Tagging photographs with location
Most phones access geolocation APIs and tag photos with locations. JPG photos can contain geo location information saved in the EXIF header of the image file. There are now web services where you can upload photos to which can extract the locations from images and use the locations for search engine ranking.
- Parcel tracking
Delivery companies such as DPD, UPD, EasyPost offer developers APIs to integrate parcel tracking in software applications. Geolocation APIs which track mobile devices installed in delivery vehicles would be powering parcel tracking APIs. Some API providers such as Tracktry integrate the APIs of several delivery companies.
- Credit Card companies prevent fraudulent transactions to your account
Credit Card companies are increasingly wanting to track the device locations of user credit card transactions to provide location-based security analysis, enabling them to flag transactions made across several geographic locations over a short time, e.g. if you legitimately use your card in one location and then a scammer in a different continent uses your card in a different continent, software using geolocation APIs can quickly pick up on this and halt further transactions on your credit card.
- Travel information warning of potential slow moving traffic
Geolocation APIs are used in software and apps that can give traffic updates. ‘In 2009, Google turned to crowdsourcing to improve the accuracy of its traffic predictions. When Android phone users turn on their Google Maps app with GPS location enabled, the phone sends back bits of data, anonymously, to Google that let the company know how fast their cars are moving‘
Many companies in aviation and transportation are dependent on accurate weather intelligence to make critical decisions. Geolocation powered apps and software can now serve people with highly accurate weather information based on where their devices are located in relation to nearest satellites. Geolocation APIs are increasingly being used by the media, utility companies, climatologists, statisticians, and general weather enthusiasts.
Expect a lot more use of geolocation APIs in future apps and software. With the development of the Internet of Things, more and more devices collecting data from the world around us will be powered by geolocation APIs, whether it is drones, weather recorders, street lights, or even fridges. If you would like to try a geolocation API, have a look at one of the best ones on the market – ipstack.