OSLO accord pushes location-sharing between social networks

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We’ve had OpenId to make the transport of your ID easier between Web sites. We’ve had initiatives on Data Portability to make it easier for you to move your data around between social networks and other apps. But what we haven’t had yet is a way to allow you to share your location between different platforms. That’s something that a new, largely European-inspired, initiative hopes to address. The alliance, called OSLO (Open Sharing of Location-based Objects) includes many of the players in mobile social networking and location-based social software.

Twelve startups, all of whom serve their users with location-based services, have signed an agreement to enable their combined 30 million users to share location information and interact between networks. Currently users are unable to do so as location-based systems operate in a similar fashion to instant messaging systems like AOL and MSN which don’t work with eachother. So for example, you can set your location on Brightkite for instance, but your friends on Rummble wouldn’t see you – but they would if Brightkite joined the initiative.

While Ronan Higgins, CEO, Locle and Andrew Scott, Founder/CEO, Rummble are acting as spokes people, the other companies in the initiative are: www.aka-aki.com, belysio, Buddycloud, Mobiluck, Moximity, Nulaz, Palringo, Rummble, Service2Media, Skout, Tooio and WAYN.

OSLO has been in discussion with Google and Yahoo! about joining the alliance. Google of course recently launched it’s Latitude product, while Yahoo! has been working on FireEagle.

However, Oslo is not a competitor to Google’s Latitude as they’ve spoken to Google, Yahoo! and Vodafone and, according to Higgins, they all want to get on board.

Some of the theoretical benefits to OSLO are:

– Mobile advertisers would benefit from the combined volumes and an ability to better target their campaigns based on location, improving click through rate, ROI and user satisfaction.

– Connecting to people on other networks gives mobile social networking users a more exciting experience.

– Application builders can create better products on top of shared location information.

– Member companies can focus on differentiation and adding value to users rather than bothering with re-building another location system, which is a commodity anyway. The alternative is a fragmentation of technologies.

However, OSLO says, end user privacy and security remains not just a priority “but a pre-requisite”. So OSLO currently mandates that member companies should be able to query the location of users, as long as that user has opted-in to share their location with other OSLO services.

It will be interesting to see how this initiative develops.

  • colin

    OSLO seems to be duplicating the functionality Fireeagle already provides. I’m all for open standards, but shouldn’t this be about standardizing the way location is communicated between applications? I can chose to trust fireeagle. And, if there is an open communication standard, other applications can talk to my location broker to find out where I am. I would control which applications get access to my information, and how much. Am I missing something here or is OSLO “re-building another location system, which is a commodity anyway”?

  • tom

    This is nothing but more data pollution that will lead to a Orwellian 1984 style police state. Just because computers can produce all this data for consumption doesn’t mean that they should. Do you really want all your friends to know when you take a dump?

  • http://barrybell.com Barry Bell

    >>Do you really want all your friends to know when you take a dump?

    Well, it would save them the job of twittering about it.

  • http://twitter.com/ggoodale Grant Goodale

    @colin: OSLO appears to be less about “another location system” and more about providing standard ways for startups to access existing services’ location data, thereby reducing (hopefully) the total number of location systems that get built. Yes, you could build strictly to Fire Eagle and exclude all those Google Latitude users out there (or vice versa), but why exclude one group in favor of the other?

    • http://www.ekit.com/ekit/tj Rupert Goldie

      @ggoodale Fire Eagle does exactly what OSLO is described as doing. It acts as an location broker, allowing end users to choose how they share location information between applications.

      Right now, when I use my ekit Travel Journal SIM, my BrightKite account is updated with my location automatically at the level of detail I choose, via Fire Eagle.

  • http://eschete.wordpress.com ryan

    looks like a new stalking tool.

  • http://www.aloqa.com Georg

    >However, OSLO says, end user privacy and security
    >remains not just a priority “but a pre-requisite”. So
    >OSLO currently mandates that member companies
    >should be able to query the location of users, as
    >long as that user has opted-in to share their >location with other OSLO services.

    If services can automatically query the location of a user (although the user may have opted-in to share at a certain point time), then, from my viewpoint, this is already way more (potential) data disclosure as is really needed for the service to work. If that ability to opt-in is all what OSLO offers in terms of privacy awareness to its users (which is similar to what Google Latitude and Fireeagle offer) I wouldnt go so far and call OSLO privacy-aware.

  • http://www.socialguides.com/blog/open-sharinglocation-based-objects-oslo/ Are location based startups trying to milk open alliance publicity? | Social Guides

    […] directionsmag Techcrunch […]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oyvind_Solstad/521285702 Oyvind Solstad

    What a lame name. Calling a standard the same thing as a capital of a country is bound to make trouble for Google-searches.

    The many odd abbreviations in the tech world never stop to surprise me…

  • http://blog.nulaz.net/2009/02/28/social-networks-unite-to-enable-mobile-location-sharing/ Nulaz Blog » Blog Archive » Social Networks Unite to Enable Mobile Location Sharing

    […] can also read more about it on: TechCrunch, Venture Beat, Silicon Republic, and […]

  • http://iamrajendra.wordpress.com/2009/02/28/oslo-accord-pushes-location-sharing-between-social-networks/ OSLO accord pushes location-sharing between social networks « I Am Rajendra - Watch The World With Me…..

    […] Source: techcrunch […]

  • Steve

    Not that I wouldn’t put my full faith and trust in these guys.. but them simply mentioning that data privacy/security is a “pre-requisite” doesn’t exactly cure all my suspicions. I’ll be keeping close watch over OSLO, latitude, etc. over at This digital security site.

  • http://stevesbucket.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/your-dose-26th27th28th-february-1st2nd-march-2009/ Your Dose - 26th/27th/28th February & 1st/2nd March 2009 «

    […] TechCrunch – OSLO accord pushes location-sharing between social networks […]

  • http://blog.twidox.com/?p=746 blog.twidox.com » Blog Archive » OSLO accord pushes location-sharing between social networks

    […] OSLO aims to break down mobile social network barriers (uk.techcrunch.com) […]

  • http://techdragonshax.blogspot.com/ Tech Dragon

    Well this is a fine moment.
    I spend 2 months working on a system like this using existing metadata, APIs and syndication methods, and now there is yet another standard/industry group/consortium/body to make my effort seem inconsequential/incompatible.

    For those curious. I built a mechanism thats very simple and anything able to output a syndication format in UTF-8 can use it with just plain text, no extra markup needed if you don’t want it/cant use it. I dont update the location often but it works… seemed a tad pointless to update my location on the way too/from work as i walk 500 meters every day.

    http://techdragonsandbox.appspot.com/static/dev_locate/myloc.html
    and
    http://techdragoninrealtime.blogspot.com/

  • http://freetracking.org/does-location-based-networking-need-some-direction.html Freetracking.org » Does location-based networking need some direction?

    […] panelist, Bryan Jones of Mobile Blast, brought up the OSLO Accord, a project raised at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which hopes to bring an […]

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  • http://www.z3lanh.com/vb منتديات

    Right now, when I use my ekit Travel Journal SIM, my BrightKite account is updated with my location automatically at the level of detail I choose, via Fire Eagle.

  • http://www.z3lanh.net مركز تحميل

    Not that I wouldn’t put my full faith and trust in these guys.. but them simply mentioning that data privacy/security is a “pre-requisite” doesn’t exactly cure all my suspicions.

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