Brendon Walsh
Geocodes for Friends and Family

Geocodes for Friends and Family


It was several months ago when Binks approached me with ideas of toying around with GPS data from our iPhones. Specifically, pushing said GPS data to Google Latitude automatically without the need to open a browser window.

He pointed out an interesting blog post by Nat Friedman regarding his playnice tool that scraped MobileMe information for the iPhone and pushed it to Latitude. However, Binks offered the idea of using the GPS data from the jailbroken) application, Navizon which supported Fire Eagle. Then the data could just be scraped from Fire Eagle through a convenient API and pushed to Latitude without the hassles of paying for MobileMe and violating Terms of Service with Apple.

It all sounded pretty simple. Unfortunately, when I looked into Navizon, I discovered that they have been having trouble lately with the Fire Eagle API and have since discontinued that feature. This left me with only one option: revert to MobileMe and scraping data in the hopes that Apple didn't make things any more difficult. So now I have a MobileMe account and playnice is running on one of my servers updating my location on Latitude after it scrapes new GPS data. The question now is what's next?

Use Cases

I've thought of a few use cases for this data aside from Latitude updates. However, many of them were borderline stalker tools. One that wasn't a terrible idea was providing the location data as a service for close family members who don't use Google services. Ideally, it would be a custom built web application hosted on our home servers so that only they could access the information.

There are so many poor weather days during the winter where you wonder how much longer someone will be on the road until they're home. Or even when someone is out late and you wonder where the party crowd has led them off to. This kind of service would be ideal when you can't get someone on the phone, but you know they have it with them.

I considered making this data publicly available through my own domain, but I'm not sure I'm quite willing to be that public yet. Maybe I can find a way to obfuscate the data or make it less accurate. But for now, I think I'll rely on friends finding me through Latitude as opposed to any other custom service I build.

What are your thoughts? How would you make use of this data? Who do you share it to and how public do you decide to be?