Using GIS for the Business of Mobile Fun

Using GIS for the Business of Mobile Fun

Geographic information systems are often associated with heavy topics such as disaster recovery, government services, and nitty-gritty supply chain management issues. But there is another side to the technology and how it can be used in the business of fun. It’s another set of potential career options for someone who wants to learn GIS.


For example, a new social trip planning iPad app called Tripshare offers help to collaborative trip planning, as the blog TechCrunch explains:

Designed for those planning vacations or other complex trips with multiple destinations or activities, Tripshare allows you to browse, collect and share information with others before booking. Using the iPad’s big screen, you can flip through photos of destinations and lodgings, create itineraries and discover flights, hotels, restaurants, activities and more. Today, the app allows you to explore more than 20,000 cities worldwide, plus 500,000+ lodging options, thousands of flights, and more than 200,000 tours, activities and restaurants.

After you have an itinerary, you can share it with other Tripshare users, email it to someone, or let others in on your plans via Titter or Facebook. Because Tripshare has so much information available on destinations, it effectively uses GIS databases, with information on cities, lodging, flights, tours, activities, and restaurants all tagged with appropriate location data.

For those in the GIS industry, this isn’t about planning the next vacation so much as recognizing the emerging importance of location-based services. There are already many ways in which GIS has permeated the lighter side of mobile technology. Services from Apple and Google absolutely depend on the context of location. Search for a drug store and you’ll likely see results sorted by proximity to where you are. Fancy and impressive front-ends like Apple’s Siri voice system still depend on the ability to sort through information by location.

Apps for travelers, whether from an airline, hotel, or third party, depend on GIS databases to serve up the local details of facilities and amenities. An app like HopStop, that provides travel directions for those on foot or taking mass transit, wouldn’t exist without the fundamentals of GIS. The various apps to find the nearest public bathroom? They’d lose their throne of usefulness without GIS.

What this all means is that people with a GIS background can be more creative when career planning and looking for jobs. GIS skills are needed in many apps, and the necessary skills are the sort that traditional software developers may not already have.