WOMBAT: Where are the Other Mobile Buddies Around Town

A new acronym I was not aware of: WOMBAT = Where are the Other Mobile Buddies Around Town?. It's actually taken from a recent EURESCOM study which "explored the communication needs of teenagers, how they could be met by location-based services, and which location technology is best suited:

In the EURESCOM study WOMBAT (Where are the Other Mobile Buddies Around Town?) researchers from major European telecoms companies developed real-life user scenarios for teenagers to see how well the different location-based technologies could serve young people’s needs. (...) The researchers identified among others, three major communication needs: to know where their peers are, to let their peers or their parents know where they are and to arrange and rearrange schedules for social events at short notice.

I am a bit doubtful concerning the 'needs' they collected. In the EURESCOM final paper, here is how they 'extracted those needs':

The study took an innovative approach to this question by using a solid social science basis from which to derive the needs, culminating in a series of user scenarios. (...) As the first step in this work we concentrated on the investigation of youth cultures and their mobile service needs. Existing data and material on young people were sourced from academic journal articles and books on youth culture, market research data, press articles, and data from various ongoing research projects. These sources were pulled together to form an understanding of young peoples’ lifestyles, culture and use of current mobile technology.

Here is scenario they envisioned:

"Imagine a group of teenagers who arranged to meet in town before going to a concert. One is already there and wants to know if he has enough time to do some shopping before his friends arrive. He checks his mobile device to see where they are and realises that one is passing a nearby shop. So he decides to wait for the close-by friend before going to the shop.“

Why do I blog this? mmh I am a bit skeptical with their 'solid science basis' and also about the needs they figure out. I think that "knowing where my buddies are" is very different from "automatically knowing where my buddies are". The main difference lies in the fact that giving one's location is both conveying an information (one's location) and an intention (that my buddies may need this information). Of course, it might be better to get my friend's position since he may not be able to give to me but he or she may be uncomfortable to disclose it on a regular basis... That's really a tricky issue. Though, there are some interesting ideas anyway (like strengthening the problem of technology acceptance by the users).