The National Radio Systems Committee released an intriguing report earlier this year that lays the informative groundwork for radio-based geo-location. The NRSC-R208 report is titled “Characteristics of Location-based Services Transmissions Using Local Radio.”
This report, released in January, “sets forth recommended characteristics of non-proprietary location-based services information transmitted on or in relation to programming broadcast [by] U.S. terrestrial radio broadcast stations (Broadcaster-Provided Location-based Services, or BPLBS). It is worth noting that some broadcasters are now relying upon broadband delivery methods (to consumers) to supplement over-the-air content and services, and this trend is expected to continue. Therefore, BPLBS do not necessarily need to be carried over-the-air to the end user.”
What is BPLBS?
BPLBS is not a GPS or a “Where am I?” scheme, but rather a framework to transmit consumer-oriented data in an orderly fashion to radio receivers that can share that received data to the user, if the receiver determines the user is within the area described in the data headers. This may be an economical way of getting essential data to the consumer without using expensive mobile data.
Getting the data to a receiver
The NRSC-R208 report suggests five suitable protocols for coding LBS data for transmission:
Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)
The CAP version 1.2 abstract describes the protocol as “a simple but general format for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of networks. CAP allows a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems, thus increasing warning effectiveness while simplifying the warning task.” It is in widespread use and well documented.
OpenGIS KML Encoding Standard (OGC KML)
KML, an acronym formerly known as “Keyhole Markup Language,” is a specification maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OCG). The opengeospatial.org website describes the specification this way: “KML is an XML language focused on geographic visualization, including annotation of maps and images. Geographic visualization includes not only the presentation of graphical data on the globe, but also the control of the user’s navigation in the sense of where to go and where to look.
OpenGIS GML Encoding Standard (OGC GML)
The Geography Markup Language (GML) is a specification maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. The opengeospatial.org website describes the GML as “an XML grammar for expressing geographical features. GML serves as a modeling language for geographic systems as well as an open interchange format for geographic transactions on the Internet … the developers of GML envision communities working to define community-specific application schemas…that are specialized extensions of GML. Using application schemas, users can refer to roads, highways and bridges instead of points, lines and polygons. If everyone in a community agrees to use the same schemas they can exchange data easily and be sure that a road is still a road when they view it.”
TPEG (Transportation Protocol Experts Group)
The TPEG group was born of the European Broadcasting Union in 1997 and has released generation 2. It is a sprawling set of tools that encompasses roads and public transport and weather, among other elements. It’s designed for easy implementation across European nations by isolating the actual data from the human language meaning, and has a defined binary format and markup language format. The NRSC-R208 report says “the portion of the TPEG protocols most directly applicable to RLBS would be the location referencing protocol.”
According to the Via Licensing Corporation website, which has coordinated the patent pool that contains the patents used to create Agora-C, it is a license-able location reference technology, the main attraction of which is that it “is independent of underlying map technology and enables sharing highly accurate location referencing information between applications such as navigation devices, traffic information systems and other location-based services. Unlike conventional geocoding technologies, Agora-C specifies a method for dynamic encoding and decoding of location references for geographic objects such as road junctions, incidents and points of interest without requiring predefined location codes or lookup tables is attractive because it does not need a built-in location database.”