Geospatial data can be added value to an app. Developers must be clear about their processes, and not forget privacy and usability.
Location-based or geospatial data can show where something is located in an environment. People depend on the apps that provide it, even though they don’t know. Location data is required for many things, including searching for the nearest store, locating the fastest route, and checking the weather.
App development companies have to strike a delicate balance between privacy and usefulness when implementing this type of information. Apps that offer a relevant and convenient service are appreciated by users, but they may be hesitant to use it if the tool has too much information about them.
These are six things you should know about building apps that use geospatial information.
Six Factors to Consider before Adding Geospatial Data To Your App
- Consider the Data Scale
- Consider Your Audience
- Offer several routes
- Determine your Pain Points
- Find Alternative Solutions
- Moderation of Data
1. Consider the Data Scale
When designing apps, developers must consider the size of geospatial data formatting. The app’s purpose and level of detail will often determine the size of the app. The map’s location range is usually wider if it shows information about a country, and narrower if showing a neighborhood.
App developers need to consider the screen size and offer ways for users to zoom in on map sections. A sticky search bar is a great option. This allows users to enter specific queries, such as state, town, or zip code.
Touchscreen gestures such as pinching and zooming make it easy to interpret geospatial data in an app. If an app’s location feature allows users to search in multiple areas, ensure you can source accurate data.
Scaling up your geospatial efforts allows you to make navigation and search easy while avoiding common pitfalls like confusing Lexington (Ky.) with Lexington (Virginia).
2. Consider Your Audience
Location intelligence helps people understand geospatial data in context.
Max Payson, an Esri solutions engineer, has recently revealed a way to allow developers to transform data into visuals. Payson says location intelligence is a popular request from customers and encourages developers to explore it. Data can make maps easier to use and provide developers with a framework for optimization.
Even if your next app does not feature geospatial information, it is worth considering for future apps. Payson says that location intelligence can be used for purposes that are not directly linked to apps. It could, for example, train artificial intelligence (AI), or use information stored on a blockchain.
Geospatial data was used to determine the most dangerous roads within Ireland by calculating the number and severity of accidents. These insights are used by officials to determine where and how to make transportation safer. If you do decide to use location intelligence, be sure that there is a legitimate reason. Do not embrace a trend without a purpose.
3. Offer several routes
Google Maps and other top brands use geospatial information to provide users with multiple ways to view data. They can determine the most direct and efficient routes based on current traffic.
Users must have the ability to choose how they view data. This is especially important because speed does not always mean fastest. People may also want to know the difference between using public transit to get to their destination and driving.
Multiple options can be especially helpful for geospatial apps that have business purposes. Different stakeholders and departments might need different types of data.
Maximize readability and usability when showing multiple routes to a single destination. Color-coding routes can be a great way to make it easy for people to track their choices.
4. Determine your Pain Points
You shouldn’t expect people to flock to apps that have location-based features. It’s important to take the time to research the market to determine if there is a need for you to meet. Apps can improve user experience by allowing you to reflect on your market. You can either add features people love or remove things they don’t like.
One developer thought up a shopping app that used location information to help shoppers navigate in unfamiliar places. A poll was conducted by the developer and revealed that 89.7% purchase items locally while on vacation, with most taking trips every 3-6 months.
He then created an app for tourists who love shopping. It allows people to search for places alphabetically and use location data, allowing them to choose a destination close by where they live.
The app gives users a wealth of information. You can see user reviews, average prices, directions, and other information.
A shopping list can be created by the user. This allows them to narrow down their choices by using filters.
This app’s developer made clear efforts to use location data in helpful ways. He couldn’t do this without first understanding his audience’s needs.
5. Find Alternative Solutions
Geospatial apps don’t have to be limited to standard options such as neighborhood maps. It is possible to make apps that are useful for clients regardless of their problems and use location data to solve them.
One app was able to help a company that supplies whole-timber trees for commercial and residential construction projects. The tool analyzed individual trees to determine if they were suitable for lumber, and rendered the data in 3D. The app enabled engineers to forecast results and scale up the business to national levels.
Do not be afraid to explore other uses of geospatial data and explore new possibilities.
6. Use data in moderation
Software that stores and uses user data must be balanced.
Location services are the same when it comes to privacy. According to a New York Times report, apps that have location settings enabled can allow marketers to see where users went and how they spent their time there.
Twitter and Facebook, social media giants, have been subject to a lot of criticism for data breaches and the selling of personal data.
The Pentagon alerted personnel in an unusual case that fitness apps on smartphones and smartphones could track their users at all hours. This gives third parties clear routes within sensitive areas of military bases.
Another example is The Weather Channel’s app which was not transparent enough about how it used geolocation information. This mistake led to a lawsuit in California seeking damages of up to $112.5 trillion.
It’s still a murky regulatory climate in the U.S. especially, but more consumers are opposed to the careless use of their data. Please pay attention to how your app stores and collects data from your users, especially where they live.
When using geospatial data, prioritize user needs
These are just a few of the many suggestions developers should follow to ensure they stay current on how to bring geospatial information into their apps. Your product must serve a clear, useful purpose and not violate your users’ privacy. Your target audience might decide that they are better off without your product.
The potential of an app’s location data is unlocked. But, it is important to consider the user’s expectations and be aware of their needs to achieve that goal.