How Amazon Location is Going to Change the Game

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Today, as part of re:Invent 2020, the fine fine folks at AWS announced Amazon Location, their newest service that officially enters Amazon into the Geospatial Market.

Announced through a blog post by none other than Jeff Barr, Amazon Location provides developers with a set of geospatial tools to make event driven applications.

Amazon Location supports a bunch of different resources including:

Maps

Maps allow developers to create maps in what you would expect from your standard Google Maps or Bing Maps product. Amazon is taking advantage of data providers that supply them with up to 16 zoom levels.

Places

Places offer a couple of different functionalities. For one, they can allow developers to quickly find a list of Points of Interest (think restaurants, coffee shops, musuems, etc.) near a particular position. We are also able to perform the opposite – find the address at a particular pair of points through a process called geocoding. Geocoding is an invaluable tool into the Geographic Information Systems space that allows us to turn longs and lats into addresses such as 1 Madison Sq.

Trackers

Trackers are arguably what I’m excited about the most. They allow you to track the location of a device (or person) through time using a set of APIs. Think about what this means for location based applications such as Uber or Lyft. Instead of maintaining a heavy backend that tracks the geospatial locations of their drivers, they can now use pre-built AWS infrastructure that handles the heavy lifting. Combined with the last feature below, AWS is changing the game.

Geofences

Geofences allow developers to set up arbitrary polygons around a particular point of interest. The most exciting part of this entire announcement is that developers can now track the entrance of devices/people as they exit in and out of geofences. Stop and think about what this means. An SNS event when a person enters a geofence? Holy smokes think of the implications. Think about how this feature will simplify the infrastructure of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and others. Now think about all the other cool things you can do with this – like setting up a geofence around a shop and sending customer’s discount codes to their device when they walk in. Are we living in the future yet or what?

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More Details

In Barr’s blog post, he goes through some detail showcasing how developers can easily create maps using a preset selection of tilesets. He goes on to set up a geofence, a tracker, and a Location Monitor. Here’s a sample of an event you would get when a user enters a geofence which triggers a notification to Amazon Eventbridge (courtesy of Jeff Barr):

 "detail": {
        "EventType": "ENTER",
        "GeofenceId": "LakeUnionPark",
        "DeviceId": "Jeff1",
        "SampleTime": "2020-11-05T02:59:07Z",
        "Position": [-122.33805, 47.52748]
  }

Barr goes on to mention that they plan to add additional APIs for Routing capabilities. Oh my gosh I am excited.

I couldn’t seem to find any mention of the scale this kind of system supports, but boy does it seem like a game changer for all folks that solve location-based problems.

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