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Location-Based Services to Piggyback on VoIP, E911 Infrastructure


TMCnews Featured Article

January 16, 2009

Location-Based Services to Piggyback on VoIP, E911 Infrastructure

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

IT insiders long have seen location-based services, or “LBS,” as playing a major role in the future of mobile devices and mobility.
As the founder of one mobile application development company told TMCnet in a recent interview, companies will come up with all sorts of interesting ways to implement LBS functionality to make our lives easier.

“From friend finder applications to restaurant locators, LBS is becoming more and more popular,” Redmond, Washington-based Mobui Corporation Chief Executive Officer John Burry told TMCnet. “We are even leveraging it for one client to make characters on phones ‘play together.’ These services were being hindered in the past by difficult implementation hurdles, but many of those barriers have now been removed and we expect a real groundswell in this area.”
Now pause to consider what goes into the infrastructure behind that kind of “anytime, anywhere” technology. Never mind the kinds of fun mobile device applications that we all enjoy. What about the kinds of technology that we all rely on?
Most of us would agree that enhanced 911, or “E911” services rank high on that list.
One Chicago-based company believes the same technology that makes E911 possible in IP or VoIP networks – by automatically delivering the address of a 9-1-1 caller to emergency dispatchers -- will enable LBSs on private and public access networks.
Officials at RedSky Technologies, Inc. say that this new access layer location service, together with the replacement of traditional telephony endpoints by IP telephony, or “IPT,” endpoints, will help providers and enterprises offer a wide variety of LBS.
“The promise of widespread, valuable, location-based services grows as the transition to IPT drives the required upgrades to the location technologies used to support emergency calling services across the globe,” said Bill Mertka, the company’s vice president of Product Management.
It’s an interesting take on ECS and E911 services, and deserves attention – particularly as, in this slower economy, the sorts of mobile technologies that support the services which RedSky (News - Alert) envisions are emerging as attractive cost-savers.
Here’s how the evolution has come about. First, network and endpoint technology that enables global access to voice connectivity and data services is already here.
Metropolitan area mesh WiFi (News - Alert) and newer WiMAX-based networks are being deployed that complement and eventually compete with services available over today’s 3G cellular networks. In a word, these networks high capacity bandwidth will enable “always-on” connectivity for mobile devices.
“Closely following the development of this always-on mobile connectivity will be the location tracking technologies that will enable the location-aware devices needed for next-generation LBS,” says Mertka. “When location-aware endpoints are augmented by new network technologies such as location information servers, it opens up the opportunity to deliver ECS in a new way which also will support next-generation LBS.”
One way RedSky – which develops E911 and other location information management solutions – is bringing this concept to market is through the use of location information server (LIS) technology in its new E911 Anywhere™ Enterprise offering.
The LIS tracks the location of phones inside and outside the enterprise in real time and passes this information on to a VoIP positioning center that validates the information and passes it along to dispatchers working in one of hundreds of public safety answering points (PSAPs) located throughout the country.

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray

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