I’ve been playing with Bing’s Twitter Maps lately and it’s one of the better implementations of Twitter’s geo APIs that were introduced last fall. It shows tweets and foursquare checkins within the last 7 days plotted on the map. Google Maps recently introduced a similar feature, but it seems to only show items that are fed through Google Buzz (including tweets that people have configured to send to Buzz).
Some future applications of geo-enabled Tweets:
- Events. For last-minute party goers, a real time view of what’s going on around town, complete with pictures and real-time reactions.
- Ticket scalping. Rather than walk around for blocks talking to scalpers about what they have, glance at a list of tickets posted. The information transparency would result in a higher price to sellers and a lower price to buyers than what scalpers typically offer. (In my experience at baseball games, scalpers usually ask at least 3x what they paid.)
- Finding a place to go. When in new cities, it’s often hard to figure out where to go — what are the lively neighborhoods at night. By looking at a map of recent tweets, you could quickly discover where people are still awake.
- Read reviews from friends. Geo-enabled tweets filtered by those you follow would provide socially relevant recommendations.
- Offers from local businesses. These could be persistent or distressed inventory. Slow night? Tweet an offer to draw in customers.
- News. Twitter has long been used for user-generated breaking news. With geo-enabled tweets, breaking news could be aggregated by location in addition to hashtags. The biggest stories could be identified by an increase of tweets from a location (versus normal) and retweet frequency. News from media outlets could also be plotted.
- Construction and accident information. Avoid bottlenecks by seeing tweets from fellow drivers, DOTs and news sites.
- Trip sharing. Find others at the airport headed your way, cutting costs and reducing pollution.
And, of course, there’s friend finding, which is the most talked about use of geo-enabled tweets.
So far, the percentage of tweets I see with geo information is tiny (>1% of those I follow). But as more and more geotagged data is put into Twitter, the key will be applications providing the right tools to filter all of that data. At a minimum, we’ll need the ability to filter by time of tweet, people we’re following, hashtag and application (e.g. foursquare).
Unfortunately, bing’s Twitter Maps doesn’t seem to be available where real-time information would be most useful — on mobile devices.