What is Geolocation?

Everything on the Earth’s surface has a location that can be expressed with just two coordinates. Using the new classes of geolocation tools, it is very easy to determine and capture the exact location of physical objects — as well as capturing the location where digital media such as photographs and video are taken. The other side of this coin is that it is also becoming easier to work with the geolocative data thus captured: it can be plotted on maps; combined with data about other events, objects, or people; graphed; charted; or manipulated in myriad ways. Indeed, such data are leading to entirely new forms of mapping. Devices we commonly carry with us increasingly have the ability to know where they (and, consequently, we) are, and to record our coordinates as we take photographs, talk to friends, or post updates to social networking websites. The transparency of this group of technologies — they are increasingly imbedded in all sorts of devices and technologies — is making them very much an essential part of our lives.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • - holly holly Aug 28, 2011Museums want (and need) to be found--geolocation is the ultimate tool to make what museums want to be discovered discoverable.
  • The ability to find other exhibits related to the one you're currently at in a large museum.- Sam Sam Aug 30, 2011
The ability to move beyond the collections in a single museum to link to relevant "features"/objects/artifacts in other museums or in the community: for example, for a history museum to create a history 'trail' that includes objects in individual museums as well as objects/features in the landscape or other repositories. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Aug 30, 2011
Also, students could use geolocation technologies to do field research and map/upload their data into museum collecctions. Although this has been done with natural history and science museums, this has potential as well for history museums. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Aug 30, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The impact of geolocation based social networks as a combination of geolocation based services with social networks for museums. - harald.kraemer harald.kraemer Aug 31, 2011
  • consideration of technical issues and limitations of the tech inside buildings, great potential if this can be cheaply and easily overcome - lorna.obrien lorna.obrien Sep 1, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Add your perspective here....
  • Sometimes I feel that my smartphone is running my life - it seems to record my location in everything I do, and has the cheek to tell everyone else where I am - if I forget to turn off the default feature. This actually has enormous potential for museums as geo-tagging can offer a seamless interface to not only location-based information but can piggy back onto all sorts of neat historically-based information too ...- susan.hazan susan.hazan Aug 27, 2011
  • The physical space of a museum becomes easier to navigate, and geolocation allows for easier discovery of new corners.- Sam Sam Aug 30, 2011
  • As learning becomes more and more user-centered, with learners of all ages, especially youth, wanting to be 'free agent' learners, museums have a tremendous opportunity to link their collections, exhibitions, and resources with other physical environments and, literally, the spaces in which their audiences live, travel, and explore. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Aug 30, 2011
  • On one side it's fascinating to find the artefact you are looking for in the collection, on the other side it's frustrating to find out that nearly 90% of the objects are hidden in the depository. So you will get the exact position of an artefact, but you can't go there. So Geolocation makes less sense in a museum, if the objects you would like to see are unaccessible. - harald.kraemer harald.kraemer Aug 31, 2011
  • I recently heard a colleague talking about the potential for geolocation to "repatriate" our vast collections. How can we bring historical objects back to their hometowns virtually and let people access them in context, add stories and content expertise, etc.? - dana.allen-greil dana.allen-greil Aug 31, 2011

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.