Alasdair Allan

Senior Research Fellow at University of Exeter, and Owner at Babilim Light Industries.

Alasdair Allan interviewed at Where 2012
16 minutes, 7.6mb, recorded 2012-04-02
Alasdair Allan

Where next for geolocation? Alasdair Allan thinks we are at a tipping point. He tells Mike Henderson of O'Reilly media that it is becoming more generally accepted when our devices reveal our location: "Location is ubiquitous!" Geolocation has become a commodity. Twitter is even built into iOS! 

New features for location-aware applications are the talk of Where 2012.  They include an augmented reality interface, accelerometers, magnetometers, cameras and GPS sensors. The ability to track iPhones enabled, tracking device carriers around Europe and the USA. Donated location data also shows promise for epidemiology, showing differences in movement for healthy versus sick people. Publicity about location data made public by default has affected sites like FourSquare and Twitter. 

It's inescapable, Allan observed, even if you don't normally geotag your tweets, friends who do geotag make it possible to track you. If you post to Facebook using iOS, it is automatically geotagged. People generally don't know their whereabouts are recorded, but acceptance is growing. That's where we are at present.

Allan shares excitement about his academic research, he has developed a mobile tracking app produced in cooperation with the University of Exeter Fire Department to look at human flocking behavior. Also, on campus opt-in data should help improve ways to use space and determine how crowds move. Users can determine the best walking paths by observing where people leave (virtual) tracks.

Alasdair Allan is the author of many books published by O'Reilly Media. He is a Senior Research Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Exeter. There he is building a distributed peer-to-peer network of telescopes which will reactively schedule observations of time-critical events. Notable successes include contributing to the detection of the most distant object yet discovered, a gamma-ray burster at a redshift of 8.2. 

Alasdair also runs a small technology consulting business writing bespoke software, building open hardware and providing training. He sporadically blogs and tweets. He is currently Senior Research Fellow at University of Exeter, and Owner of Babilim Light Industries.


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