Overview Edit

In 2012 the harvard History department had a seminar titled: "What is Digital History" in which mapping software was presented in a variety of purposes for educational use[1]. They all explored what is known as GIS, or Geographic Information Systems which is a system that stores massive amounts of location data from applications like GoogleMaps, in order to provide better service to users who utilize that application. Its important to note that these systems are designed to "run complex calculations against coordinate data to determine relationships among spatial objects, such as the driving distance between two cities or the shadows that a proposed skyscraper would cast on surrounding buildings or RFID tagged products that move beyond a specific area (e.g., geofencing). In essence, a GIS is an object-oriented analytical system that models things in space."[2]

This is important to know, because the Emerging Technology known as Location Intelligence, uses this data that's already stored, to analyze user patterns with those applications in certain areas. Location Intelligence goes beyond the storage of actual data, and supplies information that can be manipulated in via the user, with a specific application, instead of the user looking at a flat map on the screen of a computer. 

Overview of the Technology Plan Edit

Who We Are Edit

Springfield Large Urban Public (SLUP) is a large urban public library with 12 branches and a historic central building downtown.

Mission Statement Edit

The Springfield Large Urban Public Library (SLUP) will use the emerging technology trend of location intelligence to create a location-aware app for patrons. The primary focus of the app will be to assist patrons in accessing the physical space of the central library. Phase 2 of the project will expand the app to the 12 branches. Phase 3 of the project will gather anonymous browsing statistics.

Goals Edit


  • Introduce new patrons to the physical space of the library.
  • Guide patrons and visitors to unique and interesting parts of the physical library.
  • Improve roving reference by allowing patrons to request assistance at their location.


  • Collect anonymous browsing statistics.
  • Scrub identifying information from data--we should not have access to anything the patron does not share, and we will not retain anything beyond the above statistics.

What is Location Intelligence? Edit

The Emerging Technology referred to as Location Intelligence refers to the way individuals or organizations map how people are interacting with various applications and/or services based on their current location[3]. This means that any interaction you have with any technological material could be used to track you for the purposes of analyzing your digital foot print. Most notably, "Smartphones and tablets are naturally driving the proliferation of this technology because of their built-in location-sensitive sensors, WiFi signals, gyroscopes, magnetometers and accelerometers, and other features. Major players in the mobile and wearable technology space, such as Apple and Google, are rapidly acquiring the latest location intelligence technologies with the goal of enhancing the ways in which consumers interact with their surroundings.[4]"

The best way to really define the inner workings of Location Intelligence, is to give the comparison between Mapquest, and a the Googlemaps application on your Smart Phone. In both applications, the user can find addresses, search for organizations and locations, and get an excellent representation of the area in which they are travelling to, or are currently in. The difference is that users on mapquest, are given a map to verify as a single section of data, and the Handheld application of GoogleMaps is interactive. GoogleMaps can follow your location sometimes to the exact measurement of a yard, and can allow the user to look at their location through a three dimensional lens. This is defined by the way in which the user can move the map to view a separate location, or use a zoom tool to get a birds eye view, or an up close visual of their desired location. Location Intelligence has far surpassed printing out driving directions and referring to a piece of paper, it has grown into a 3D interactive field of data that's both user friendly, and user specific. 

What Will the App Do? Edit

1. Provide a self-guided tour of the Central library, including:

  • Rooms
  • Collections
  • Information on artwork
  • Information on architecture
  • Library Lore (notes on authors who have used the library, famous people who have visited the library, unique items, etc.)
  • Note: the tour will be narrated and include captions.

2. Provide access to virtual browsing:

  • When enabled, the app will find an approximate call number closest to the patron's current location.
  • The patron can accept the suggested call number, or edit it.
  • Once a call number is accepted or edited, the app will display a scroll-able menu of Dewey classifications.
  • Clicking on the call number will open the item in the catalog in a mobile web browser, liking to our catalog's virtual browse feature.

3. Allow patrons to request help where they are:

  • The "Help Me Find It" button (working title) sends a message to the staff access services iMessage account.
  • Roving access services staff with the mobile phone will get a message with the patron's location.
  • The "I Have a Question" button (working title) sends a message to the staff roving reference iMessage account.
  • Roving Reference staff receive a message with the patron's location.

4. Provide directions to other branches:

  • The app will determine which branch the patron is currently in.
  • Clicking on another branch in the list of branches will open the mobile device's default map application.

5. Provide tours and virtual browsing inside the branches. (Phase 2.)

6. Allow patrons to opt in to an experimental service (this would require an additional education piece.)  This service will gather location data and scrub any identifying info, then provide circulation statistics based on how long a patron spends in an area.  (Phase 3.)

Evaluation of Technology Options Edit

Unfortunately, the application we are proposing will only work on a device with GPS and location services. However, we would like to make it available on as many devices as possible. Therefore we are requesting the design of an app that is compatible with Apple and Android platforms, and which is responsive to screen size. Having a responsive design will increase usability on devices of different sizes.

Geo-fencing may be a useful tool for activating informational tour points. It may also be useful during Phase 3.

Pros and Cons Edit

Concerns for the privacy of patrons naturally attend any discussion of GIS apps.  These concerns are not always voiced widely by customers of commercial apps that use this technology, but those who do warn against privacy intrusions tend to do so with forceful conviction.  Their points are often valid and well founded.  Our smartphones themselves can be used as tracking devices[5], and this is especially true when using apps that require a phone’s “location services” to be enabled[6].

Capira Technologies is one of the leading developers of library apps.  They produce iBeacon, an app with capabilities similar to what we will create.  An article in Library Journal attempted to reassure those worried about possible privacy invasions by library apps, and commended Capira Technologies for having “a legal team write a privacy policy that will explain how patron information is being handled”[7].  But we are a little unsettled by this misdirection.  Their explanation of how patrons’ information will be handled was that they could explain it later.  The portion of Capira’s website that addresses this explicitly says, “Capira Technologies only shares personal information with our subsidiaries, affiliated companies or other trusted businesses or persons”[8].  Again, this is a bit disconcerting because it only prompts more questions and seems to require users to take vague claims on faith.

We will not have any business partners to share patrons’ information with, and these relationships will not be fostered in the future.  We will attempt to use this "con" that is endemic to our type of app as a "pro" by giving patrons the option to take advantage of the experimental service that would track their location. And, as stated above, the data will not tied to any unique characteristics that could be used to identify a specific patron. Moving forward, any issues regarding privacy will be addressed honestly and without obfuscation.

Budget Edit

Vendor Peregrine Infoworld quotes $14,000 for the creation of a location-aware app, including analytics. We will provide all content and maintain responsibility for maintenance and updating. Our current IT and web development staff will integrate the app with our wifi and website. Additional costs will come from adding a web development specialist to our team to serve as lead on this project ($48,000.) Because our annual budget already accounts for staff training and outreach to patrons, there is no additional cost for training or outreach.

Vendors Edit

WiFi Slam: acquired by Apple.

Fueled: price reflects focus on design, which we don't need.

In-House: Do not currently have the skill set in-house.

Capira Technologies: specializes in apps for libraries.

Peregine InfoWorld: specializes in location aware-apps, enthusiastic to work with us and our library-specific needs, quoted price fits within our budget, offers product guarantee.

MapHook: examples of location mapping.

Staff Training and Other NecessitiesEdit

The web development team leader will work closely with our chosen vendor during the creation and testing process. It will be the responsibility of the team leader to train the web development team on the application, and in turn the web development team will conduct trainings (coordinated by the education and training team) for staff prior to roll out. Additionally, the education and training team will create and maintain an instructional page for the app on the staff training blog.

Benefits and Challenges Edit


  • Maintaining patron confidentiality and privacy
  • Maintaining control over records being scrubbed and not saved--need to firmly convey that to vendor
  • Educating patrons on privacy and use of location services
  • Location Intelligence may not be refined enough with our current WiFi set-up--we may need to upgrade that as well


  • Increase visits to physical library
  • Connect with patrons in physical space of the library
  • Outreach
  • Opportunity to educate staff and patrons on new technology
  • Opportunity to educate staff and patrons on privacy

Accessibility/Usability Issues Edit

  • Requires a smart mobile device.
  • Requires enabling location services.
  • SLUP does not currently loan out smart devices such as iPods or tablets because it is not currently possible to remove patron data in between checkouts in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • Initial roll-out of app will only be in English.

When Does This Start?Edit

We intend to develop the app with our contractor in order to make sure our specific needs are met. Because of the complexity of simultaneously maintaining patron confidentiality and educating staff and patrons, we will need at least a year to complete the survey, develop and test the app. Additionally, we request 3 months to roll out, accounting for possible glitches and the need to train staff. We would not anticipate extending the entire project beyond 18 months, because technology evolves so rapidly, we can anticipate needing an update by that time.

Examples of Location Intelligence in Other Libraries Edit

Scan Jose

Cleveland State University

Delft University of Technology

Library of Congress

Links Edit

References Edit

  1. Weber, B. (2012, October 21). Mapping and Spatial History. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from
  2. Eckerson, W. (2012, August). Location Intelligence is More Than a Map. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from
  3. Location Intelligence. (2015). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from Intelligence From The Horizon Project - NMC Horizon Report 2015 Library Edition Wiki
  4. Location Intelligence. (2015). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from Intelligence From The Horizon Project - NMC Horizon Report 2015 Library Edition Wiki
  5. Maass, P., & Rajagopalan, M.  (2012, July 13).  That’s no phone.  That’s my tracker.  New York Times.  Retrieved from
  6. Talbot, D.  (2012, July 9).  A phone that knows where you’re going.  MIT Technology Review.  Retrieved from
  7. Enis, M.  (2014, November 18).  “Beacon” technology deployed by two library app makers.  Library Journal.  Retrieved from
  8. Capira Technologies. (n.d.). Privacy policy. Retrieved from

Further Reading Edit

Enis, M. (2015). Technology: Library App Makers Deploy Beacon Tech. Library Journal140(1), 20.

Miller, R. R. (2011). Finding Yourself at the Intersection of LOCATION and CONTENT. Econtent34(1), 16-20.

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