Location is baked in to just about everything that developers do these days. All the major original equipment manufacturers use the Global Positioning System as a primary means of tracking a smartphones location, but GPS may not be the best source of location data for developers. In steps Loc-Aid, a location as a service provider that aggregates data from the carriers and pushes it to developers through an API.
San Francisco-based Loc-Aid has a huge network and a vast array of partners. You probably have not heard of it. Part of that is because a lot of Loc-Aid's clients do not want you to know where they get their location data. Loc-Aid is now ready to step out of the shadows and become a go-to resource for developers looking to add location data to their mobile applications.
Loc-Aid calls itself location as a service. It sits between the cellular carriers and developers and aggregates location from one and pushes it through an API to the other. During an interview with CEO Rip Gerber recently, I drew a picture to help me understand exactly what Loc-Aid does. Bear with me, I am not exactly an artist.
That is the simple version. Here is the more complex version from Loc-Aid.
Essentially, Loc-Aid has a partnership with all the major North American carriers. Loc-Aid facilitates and aggregates location data and provides it to developers. This data can be used by financial institutions for fraud prevention, SMS marketing campaigns with geo-fence technology, machine-to-machine, business services and mobile marketing. Loc-Aid's customer base is heavily skewed towards the enterprise market right now, especially the financial sector. Without naming names, seven of the 10 largest banks use Loc-Aid in their mobile services and two of the four major credit card carriers.
Loc-Aid provides a single API from all the carrier networks with uncomplicated onboarding process, privacy certification and a reporting and optimization (read: analytics) for mobile developers to create maps, geo-fences and really anything that can be done with data. Loc-Aid is for developers that do not want to buy data directly from the carriers and also have an easy API to deal integrate.
Loc-Aid's clients use the service mostly for fraud prevention and authentication, verification and analytics. Surprisingly few actually integrate the service for gaming and social network, though Loc-Aid would like to increase the number of clients in that area.
Ever had your debit card declined while travelling because the bank thought you were someone else? Loc-Aid works with the banks to determine that you are you by putting the location of the card in the same proximity as a users phone. Every time the bank has to call you to make sure you are the one using the card, it costs them a substantial amount of money. Imagine how many of those calls you get a year and you can see why the banks would want to use Loc-Aid.
One interesting scenario is for sports betting in Nevada. The big casinos and sports betting companies are only allowed to take bets in Nevada. The casinos would get in big trouble with the Nevada gaming regulators if it was found they were taking bets from across state borders At the same time, the casinos also want a robust mobile component. So, Loc-Aid provides them with location as a service so that they can track where the bets are being made and make sure it fits within the rules.
Location Labs, based out of San Francisco, is probably Loc-Aid's biggest competitor. Skyhook Wireless out of Boston was on a track to be a major competitor in this space but after getting shutout of Android by Google, many of the largest OEMs have dropped Skyhook. The footprint of Loc-Aid is higher than any of those other services because it has partnerships with all the major carriers, giving it a network that encompasses nearly 290 million, or just about ever phone (smart or feature) in North America.
Developers: With location data and integration booming, does Loc-Aid work into your plans? Let us know in the comments.