Problems and Solutions; Wireless Location Based Services
By Xinhang Shen, President, President NAC Geographic Products Inc. (January 2003)
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Current wireless location based services are growing much slower than expected. One of the major problems is the inefficiency of
geographic coordinates such as longitude/latitude and UTM. These coordinates require more than 20 characters at a resolution of
meters that are difficult for people to remember and communicate. They are also difficult to be displayed on and input into small
wireless devices. All these make geographic coordinates nearly useless to general consumers.
(Published by WirelessDevNet.com, Jan. 22, 2003) -- Consumers remain using traditional addresses and place names to access location based services. These addresses and place names are
long character strings that require many keys to input, and sometimes, they include special or foreign characters that canít be directly
input on a cellphone key pad. The wide variations of address formats also make it impossible to develop reliable algorithms to handle
all addresses, which lead to frequent failures in handling addresses. The inconvenience and failures have significantly reduced the
attractiveness of wireless location based services.
All these problems can be solved by the Natural Area Coding System. This article proposed five wireless location based services
enhanced with the Natural Area Coding System:
- Universal Address lookup service
- GPS enhanced cellphone
- Wireless driving directions service
- Wireless map service
- Wireless location based search service
Enhanced with the Natural Area Coding System, users need to input only eight characters (Universal Address) instead of a more than
forty character traditional address to specify any location on the earth, and four characters (Natural Area Code) instead of country,
province and city names to specify any area in the world. Moreover, Universal Addresses and Natural Area Codes are in alphanumeric
characters, they can be input on all cellphones to eliminate the difficulty of inputting addresses and place names with special or
foreign characters. Universal Addresses are available everywhere on the earth surface that allows people to access location based
services even for temporary camping sites where there are no addresses at all. Similarly, Natural Area Codes can help people to
specify any areas in the world for wireless location based services, no matter where they are and whether they have names or not.
More than 80% saving of input keys and language independence brought by the Natural Area Coding System will significantly
improve all wireless location based services in efficiency, reliability and completion.
However, this technology has two barriers to overcome before it liberates great power. The first barrier is vast public awareness. If
people donít know the technology and its advantages, they will not use any features brought by the technology, and all these services
will not have any advantages because of the introduction of the technology. The second barrier is wide availability of Universal
Addresses. If people donít know their Universal Addresses, they still canít benefit from the advantages of the technology either.
To overcome these two barriers, it requires great influence and comprehensive services that most small or medium size companies are
not able to accomplish. Therefore, only large companies with large influence in the society and providing mass communication
services can achieve the goal. An ideal candidate is a large telecommunication company which provides both wireless location based
services and telephone catalogs for fixed phones.
Telephone companies in North America have already had longitude/latitude coordinates for every fixed telephone that are provided to
emergency services in 911 calls. It will be a small work for these companies to list Universal Addresses together with fixed telephone
numbers and addresses on all telephone catalogs, using a simple conversion program to convert longitude/latitude into Universal
Addresses. Since telephone catalogs are delivered to every home every year, it can rapidly create wide availability of Universal
Addresses. Therefore, all people can obtain their Universal Addresses immediately, and include them on their business cards,
advertisements, correspondences, tourist guides, etc.
Due to great influence of a large telecommunication company, the introduction of such a revolutionary technology will generate wide
coverage of the technology and its enhanced services on all media: newspapers, magazines, television, radio, Internet, etc. This wide
coverage will create vast awareness in the public. This will be even more intensely in Japan because the Introduction of the Natural
Area Coding System will not only benefit wireless location based services, but also revolutionize Japanese address systems. Unlike
Western address systems, Japanese addresses are comprised of prefecture, city, ward, district, chome, subsection of chome, and
building. All these components are not sequentially distributed, named and numbered. Looking for a Japanese address is a real time-
consuming process that wastes huge amount of precious time and causes numerous frustrations. A Universal Address added as part of
an address can solve all the problems for Japan. It represents clear and accurate spatial information which can be directly pinpointed
on all maps, navigated with GPS receivers and street signs enhanced with the NAC technology.
Only when Universal Addresses have been widely available and well known in an area, the advantages of the technology will become
significant, and all NAC enhanced location based services will show their great competitiveness.