Twitter, Now With Geo-Location

Last year Twitter acquired Mixer Labs and the Geo API in an effort to continue boosting their location based functionality.  Twitter added a ‘local trend’ feature that allows users to see tweets based in a certain area, but the location was manually set by the user.  Now Twitter has announced the addition of a more significant tweet your location feature that allows users to add location information from their mobile device to their tweets and, most importantly, makes that information searchable for other users.

Now when you come across that police blockade you’ll be able to search near your location for relevant tweets and find out why the police have surrounded your building (or, more realistically, find out how far that blackout you’re stuck in reaches).

As this functionality is integrated into applications like Foursquare and Waze and others yet to be developed I believe it delivers that final necessary layer of information to make Twitter a true potential leader for in-vehicle information.  Without the added value of 3rd party applications Twitter + geo-location information could be an extremely powerful tool for the transfer of data to and from the vehicle.  I can already think of at least 3 ways to take advantage of the power of Twitter’s real-time information stream to improve real-time traffic data (if you’d like to discuss them, e-mail me).

I have already talked about how Twitter’s platform has the potential to become a major player in real-time incident data and the addition of this geo-location information combined with some voice commands will lend a great deal of credibility to the use case for in-vehicle tweeting.

As with all the socially networked location based services there are significant concerns about the safety of letting the world know where you are.  Sites like PleaseRobMe.com shine a light on some of the potential negatives of all this location based information.  Twitter seems to be taking the necessary steps to put the decision to share information in the hands of the user (and at that point it’s up to the user not to be an idiot…I know, not something easily relied upon).

Your Privacy and Tweet with Location

We want you to have control over how and when your location information is shared. Tweet With Location is off by default, and as a user you need to opt-in to the service. You can turn Tweet With Location on or off at any time, as well as clear your location before you Tweet. You can also delete all your past location data with a single click (the How to Tweet With Your Location help page has instructions to do this).

It’s already a good idea to be cautious and careful about the amount of information you share online. There may be some updates where you want to share your location (“The parade is starting now.” or “A truck just spilled delicious candy all over the roadway!”), and some updates where you want to keep your location private. Just like you might not want to tweet your home address, please be cautious in tweeting coordinates you don’t want others to see.

Remember that when you’re opted in to Tweet With Your Location, you can still select to not share your location for individual Tweets, or choose to share a more general location level if your application allows. Please familiarize yourself with our general location settings and the settings of any applications and devices you tweet with so that you are always aware of the information you share. Remember, once you post something online, it’s out there for others to see.

Overall a Twitter enabled 3rd party application with ties to real-time incident data is amongst the first apps I would want to download to my car.   I have no doubt that by the time in-vehicle apps have hit their stride that there will be a plethora of options to choose from.  The question is what will differentiate one app from an another and will a clear leader emerge… Apps like Foursquare provide the added value and engagement of offering rewards to users while Waze provides turn-by-turn navigation based on user submitted traffic updates.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but mark my words… Twitter’s engine for real-time information sharing has the power to make a huge impact on automotive telematics.

You can click through for the full post from Twitter here.

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