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InfoQ Homepage News AWS Introduces Location Service in Preview

AWS Introduces Location Service in Preview

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In one of the latest announcements of re:Invent 2020, AWS introduced the preview of Amazon Location, a new mapping service for developers to add location-based features like geofencing and built-in tracking to web-based and mobile applications.

The new product offers currently four different types of resources - maps, place indexes, trackers and geofence collections - and an API for routing is expected to be added during the preview. While the place indexes API allow searching for addresses, businesses, and points of interest using free-form text, trackers can be linked to geofence collections to implement monitoring of devices as they move in and out of geofences. The service supports maps and map styles provided by Esri and by HERE Technologies, two of the largest location data providers, and it is possible to use existing map libraries such as Mapbox GL and Tangram. As for the documentation, the API is consistent across LBS data providers, making it possible to switch across different providers for different use cases or geographies.

The service will help in use cases such as displaying maps, tracking the movement of packages and devices, geomarketing, geocoding (turn an address into a location) and delivery management. Even if not all geolocation functionalities are yet available, the cloud provider is going to cover an area where it was not offering a managed solution, competing now in the location data market with Google Maps Platform and Azure Maps.

Sander Heije, product owner IoT at PostNL, commented on how the parcel and e-commerce corporation took advantage of an early access to the service to manage and track their Unit Load Devices (ULD), like pallets and containers:

To be able to track all our ULD in real time, we have created an IoT landscape which continuously updates us with the location and sensor information of the ULDs. Within the IoT platform, which is based on AWS IoT services, AWS Location Service helps us provide our business with real-time insights about when a ULD has entered or left a site, when it sits idle or when it is being loaded. This allows us to optimize different parts of our business, improve the customer experience and better manage logistics.

Example of a geofence created with geojson.io. Source: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/amazon-location-add-maps-and-location-awareness-to-your-applications

Daniel, author of "Be A Better Dev", explains how the tracker feature can benefit location based applications:

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.

Anton Babenko, AWS Community Hero and HashiCorp ambassador, jokes about the simplicity of setting up a fence and trigger actions when tracked items leave a geofenced area:

The first immediate use-case for Amazon Location service which came to my mind was to make a service that runs "terraform destroy" when the on-call person leaves the prescripted geofence (eg, office or home) as Terraform module.

The new service is available as preview in a subset of AWS regions and free until the end of the preview. Different pricing plans will then be available, including a request-based usage paid tier.

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