Trackle me Elmo

There’s been a great deal of noise about the era of location-based services.  The intensity of the subject – epitomized by issue 17.02 of Wired devoted to the GPS revolution – has been fueled by the iPhone and other smart devices with GPS-ready capability.

Much of the activity has been around helping you get from your present location to your intended destination, a’la Google Maps or keeping track of your friends’ locations and activity status, a’la Google Latitude. Other popular location-based AppStore apps involve locating places to dine, via UrbanSpoon, or locating other service providers from banks to hospitals, via AroundMe.

These are clever and often useful services, but I recently came across a new one called Trackle with a couple of added dimensions worth noting. (You can read a nice intro to Trackle by Josh Lowensohn.)

The first added dimension of note is Trackle’s focus on using and managing alerts, all of which are location-based. If you aren’t hip to alerts yet, you are seriously missing out on one of the web’s more useful features, as they basically provide a way for you find out about anything when it happens, i.e., “I want know about ‘xyz’ when it happens anywhere on the web.”

Well, what Trackle does is enable to you create or select (via a handy pre-developed catalog) a bevy of alerts, that it calls Tracklets, for a variety of purposes. The more popular Tracklets to date generate alerts for things like crime, stocks, home values, and jobs.

The other added dimension of Trackle is how it organizes all of this location-based information into a single inbox. This helps mitigate one of the more annoying problems with all other location-based notification and alert systems: they all tend to act like they are the only ones that exist – very “me” centric.  Trackle puts all of the alerts in a single inbox, which can be sorted and categorized, according to your preferences.

I think it’s interesting to think about how a product like Trackle could be extended. For example, what if Trackle captured a much richer profile of its users; things like:

  • your personal interests
  • schedule availability
  • days of vacation time remaining in the year, and
  • general budget for travel and leisure to your top 5 desired locations

Then, what if it mapped that rich user profile against hotels, events, restaurants, and other attractions? Add the location and schedules of your friends and family, and you’ve got “Travel Agency 2.0.”