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 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.