in Media, Mobile, Technology

Geotagging 101

Geotagging demo from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

I’m sure iPhone users are plagued by jokes about using a rubber to ‘play safe’. But let’s not get off on that tangent shall we? Let’s talk about a new feature of the iOS4: In the photo roll, there is a ‘Places’ icon that displays a global Google map populated with red markers that indicate the exact place the photos were taken. Yes, we are talking about Geotagging, which stores geographical data (GPS coordinates) related to the photos, pinpointing you to the exact location where you took the image.

Geotagging according to Wikipedia is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata. Consisting of latitude and longitude coordinates, sometimes also including altitude, bearing, distance, accuracy data, and place names, Geotagging is commonly used for photographs. Similarly, geocoding refers to the process of taking non-coordinate based geographical identifiers, such as a street address, and finding associated geographic coordinates (or vice versa for reverse geocoding).

No iPhone 4? Buy a GPS unit and plug it into your favorite DSLRs. Some even have in-built GPS and sensors that tag indoor locations. This feature syncs with Facebook Places and Foursquare as well.

Why Geotagging?

Geotagged photos will help you recall where you were. I bet Ibn Batuta and Marco Polo wished they had access to such travel technology!

Images can be linked to applications such as iPhoto, Google, Flickr, etc, which helps in specific location search or if you want to share your pictures with people. Trippermap integrates Google maps and Flickr so you can generate a flash map to embed in your website. Urbanspoon integrate geolocations thus allowing users to add reviews of restaurants.

Why say NO to Geotagging?

People are subject to stalking via location based networking platforms like Foursquare. So now what? Should one stop using and encouraging innovative use of technology that has the potential of changing the way we interact and communicate. While the privacy debate continues, judicious use of technology is always the right answer.

Be judicious in your use of geotagging. Switch it off if you don’t want or need to geotag. This is usually accessed via the settings menu in your device. In the iPhone just switch the location services off. Check your privacy settings on Facebook. If you don’t want to share your details with ‘everyone’, make sure you change your settings to only allow ‘friends’ to get updates.