The WikiMedia foundation has added a new extension to MediaWiki that adds geographic data tags for individual articles. This will affect all wiki-based sites using the WikiMedia formats, which includes Wikipedia. While this might sound very technical, it could mean a lot to your brick-and-mortar business, travel agency, tourism board and more.
Currently, many Wikipedia entries about places and locations are tagged with a loosely-recognized “infobox” markup. The new setup will standardize the way it’s done as well as simplify it thanks to a system called GeoData. This is a basic, one-line addition that only mentions the coordinates without any other extraneous meta data that is usually available elsewhere on the Wikipedia entry anyway (like place names and types). Most envision a hybrid of these two will be used since many current apps accessing Wikipedia attempt to use the current system and the only change required to implement the new one is a more syntaxed way of entering the geographic location (“geotag” or coordinates).
Long story short, it’s about to become a lot easier for developers to utilize geotagged Wikipedia articles, which means it’s about to become a lot more common for apps targeting places based on maps or current smart phone locations to access and display Wikipedia content.
Which means your business, travel destination, or tourism-related service is about to get a nice boost to its marketing efforts via Wikipedia. You’re listed there. Right?
Geotag-based Apps are Big
Apps that use geotagging or pull GPS information and display information based on it are getting more and more prolific. Most of these are geared at either tourism or commercial “find a hotspot” uses. In the former, they’re used to introduced useful data to the user who may not have otherwise noticed or known the information. In the second, they’re used to either promote businesses (like “find a restaurant near you” queries) or to find out where something is happening (i.e. “party at X”).
Adding Wikipedia to the mix can enhance the former, add to the latter, and definitely throw in a lot more possibility for the mix.
Virtual tourism is already an idea that’s catching on fast. The idea is to go on a “tour” of a place from your desk rather than physically visiting. For that, the tours are created beforehand and no geotagging is really needed. Live virtually-led tours, however, are a new thing that could use this geotagging to improve them. Imagine if your tour company offered an app instead of a real person to lead tourists around with great insider information coupled with Wikipedia-fed facts about locations? Or a bus tour augmented by an app that offers extra info for the smart phone carrying tourists?
Or imagine that you have a brick-and-mortar business – say a restaurant – that is located in a historic building or part of town. A few traditional dishes on the menu and a Wikipedia article about the historic district now mean you’re more accessible to those who use this geotagging to find things of interest.
The possibilities are huge. How would you harness this?