Recently, members of the data management lab at the University of Minnesota demonstrated Sindbad; a location-aware social networking system. From a user perspective, Sindbad can be considered as the Location-Aware Facebook (or Google+). In that sense, Sindbad got all the functionality in a typical social networking service, except that the geo-location is dealt with as a first class citizen. Below is a video that manifests how users interact with Sindbad through a web application:
Technically speaking, Sindbad incorporates the geo-spatial location into all aspects of the user social networking experience. For instance, Sindbad delivers location-aware messages (i.e., News Feed) to end-users. The importance of a location-aware news feed appears in the following scenario:
Assume Bob visited Paris and had dinner in that amazing french restaurant. He posted a Facebook message featuring the following: "Restaurant XYZ is awesome". Alice, a friend of Bob, will see that message in her recent news feed at the time it was posted. Three months later, Alice traveled to Paris and was wondering where to have dinner. If she would just see Bob's message he posted when he was in Paris, it would have saved her day. Alice needed to see those messages that are relevant to her current geo-spatial location (Paris).
Sindbad takes the spatial location of both the user, their friends, and the posted messages in order to provide location-aware news to the system users.
Moreover, Sindbad provides a location-aware recommendation service to its users. The Sindbad recommendation service takes into account both the user location and the item location in generating recommendations to the user. Sindbad users living in the same geographic region share the same preferences over restaurants, books, and even movies. Sindbad also recommends restaurant based on: (1) The history of user visits to different restaurants, and (2) the distance between the user current location and the restaurant. Sindbad also allow its users to rate and review items which helps in generating collaborative recommendation to other system users.
Sindbad has been demonstrated at the ACM International Conference on Management of Data, SIGMOD 2012. Here is the abstract:
This demo presents Sindbad; a location-based social networking system. Sindbad supports three new services beyond traditional social networking services, namely, location-aware news feed, location-aware recommender, and location-aware ranking. These new services not only consider social relevance for its users, but they also consider spatial relevance. Since location-aware social networking systems have to deal with large number of users, large number of messages, and user mobility, efficiency and scalability are important issues. To this end, Sindbad encapsulates its three main services inside the query processing engine of PostgreSQL. Usage and internal functionality of Sindbad, implemented with PostgreSQL and Google Maps API, are demonstrated through user (i.e., web/phone) and system analyzer GUI interfaces, respectively.