Meetings Canada


Enhancing Your Event with Geolocation

Big Brother isn’t just watching you –through geolocation, you are telling him exactly where you are.

Big Brother isn’t just watching you –through geolocation, you are telling him exactly where you are.

Geolocation identifies where you are located on the planet via the World Wide Web, your IP address (a unique number which identifies a computer and its location on the Internet) and the GPS (global positioning system) on your mobile device.

Did you know that your cell phone broadcasts your location continuously?

In March, Twitter began using geolocation. Twitter users can elect to “turn location on” (this is done from the account settings page) and their followers will see the location from which their tweets originate.

Even more sophisticated is Foursquare, a location-based social network that mashes geolocation with gaming elements.

This past January, Intel used Foursquare during the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.

There, Intel promoted that attendees join them to unlock insider badges, freebies at Intel check-ins on the show floor, the keynote, and various hotspots in Las Vegas. It was a tremendous success. Of course, they collected the lead information from everyone who checked-in.

At events, attendees can, via geolocation, easily find their colleagues and friends. Recently, in Toronto, I participated as a sweep crew in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Foursquare assisted the 4,000-plus riders in locating their friends at the various designated rest stops and helped locate riders who needed to be picked up by the sweep crew.

There is a downside, though, to publicly telling people where you are (letting would-be thieves know when you’re not at home, for instance).

Just by visiting the Foursquare website, for example, my location was noted on the top right corner of the screen.

Moreover, today’s data mining technology, coupled with geolocating, has evolved far beyond the standard Internet activity of tracking your activities and knowing your buying interests, which could infringe on your privacy.

The good news is that the information is not easily accessible unless you give permission and opt-in. We are fortunate to live in Canada, which has strict privacy laws.

The key is being aware of the technology and using it to enhance your meetings and events.


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