This was originally published in Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits last week
Google Latitude – a service that allows people to see where you are – has launched 2 new services – Location History and Location Alerts – that provide some interesting potential for mobile journalism.
Location History (shown above) allows you to “store, view, and manage your past Latitude locations. You can visualize your history on Google Maps and Earth or play back a recent trip in order.”
There are obvious possibilities here for then editing a map with editorial information – if you’re covering a parade, a marathon, or a demonstration you could edit placemarks to add relevant reports as you were posting them (or someone else with access to the account could from the newsroom).
Location Alerts is less obviously useful: this sends you a notification (by email and/or text) when you are near a friend’s location, although as Google explains, it’s a little more clever than that:
“Using your past location history, Location Alerts can recognize your regular, routine locations and not create alerts when you’re at places like home or work. Alerts will only be sent to you and any nearby friends when you’re either at an unusual place or at a routine place at an unusual time. Keep in mind that it may take up to a week to learn your “unusual” locations and start sending alerts.”
There is potential here for making serendipitous contact with readers or contacts, but until Latitude has widespread adoption (its biggest issue for me, and one that may never be resolved), it’s not likely to be useful in the immediate future.
The good thing about Latitude is you can enable it and disable it to suit you, and my own experience is that I only enable it when I want to meet someone using GPS on my phone. To sign up to Google Latitude user, go here. To enable the new features, go to google.com/latitude/apps.
Those are 2 uses I can think of, and I’ve yet to have a serious play – can you think of any others?