(Research) Impacts of Location Awareness

William Mitchell in the feature:

Mitchell: The implications of location-awareness are far from obvious. The technology enables you to reconsider things as fundamental as, say, signage in a city. For example, we traditionally think of a stop sign as part of the fixed infrastructure of the city. But if you have a location-aware automobile, you can shift the stop sign to the dashboard so it pops up when you approach an intersection. If you have whole networks of location aware vehicles, the system becomes more elaborate. Perhaps the stop sign only pops up when there's another car coming from the opposite direction. You could even have elaborate intersection priority schemes.

Most location-enhanced applications connect people with information or each other. But you seem to be focused on ways that the car and the city can communicate?

Mitchell: Take something as simple as knowing where the potholes in the city. Every automobile could have a sensor and wireless device that pings out a signal every time it hits a pothole. That in itself may sound trivial, but extrapolate from there. Once you have location awareness combined with sensing, all of the automobiles in a city can operate as part of a giant distributed scanner that builds a real-time model of the city and keeps it updated.