Geolocation Challenges in Disputed Territories

Curious about how software developers can manage location-based services when dealing with disputed territories or partially recognized states? We will see how things can go badly wrong, how (surprisingly) widespread the problem is discuss simple patterns on how to minimize the impacts of geolocation challenges. How can you really care about all your users around the world? Join me next Monday at 5PM at Factory Berlin Mitte (event for Factory members only)

Screenshot-2018-6-5 Geolocation Challenges in Disputed Territories Factory Berlin

The (accidental) developer at re:publica 18

Very happy I had the chance today to talk at re:publica on a topic I care about, how can software developers manage location-based services when dealing with disputed territories or partially recognized states: “the (accidental) developer in disputed territories“. Here are slides of my talk this afternoon, while still enjoying the party at STATION Berlin.

 

 

 

Alexa, what is the capital of Israel?

rob-bye-103200The status of Jerusalem has been in the news a lot in the last few weeks, since Donald Trump confirmed the US now recognize the city as capital of Israel. And the recent UN voting on rejecting the recognition.

If maps and location-based services present unexpected challenges in a disputed territory to the developer who targets an international audience, voice services are the new frontier.

While preparing a few examples for my talk at Codemotion Berlin last October,  I asked Alexa (in German) the question “Alexa, what is the capital of Israel?”

And on October 3rd, the answer was

Die Hauptstadt von Israel ist Jerusalem

that translates in a short, direct but controversial

The capital of Israel is Jerusalem

An answer that might upset a significant number of users of the Amazon service. Apparently while Mr Trump followed the advice from Alexa, Amazon rectified the answer in the meantime. Asking the very same question today, you have a longer

Israel hat Jerusalem zu seiner Hauptstadt erklaert, diese wird jedoch nicht von allen Staaten anerkannt

that translates in

Israel has declared Jerusalem to be its capital, but it is not recognized by all states

Someone might argue that actually most states do not recognize it but it is definitely a more accurate answer than the initial one and that targets a wider audience.

This is something easier to address in a voice service than a geolocation decoding challenge,  but it is still an example of the problems that a software developer has to face to target an international in a disputed territory.

 

From Macedonia to Codemotion

As the BBC recently reported, Matthew Nimetz has spent the last 23 years trying to find a name for the republic of Macedonia that can be accepted both in Skopje and Athens. But a solution for the Macedonia naming dispute has not been agreed yet.

Screenshot from 2017-08-10 18-43-36

What name should a developer use today when working on location-based services? The user friendly Macedonia or the formal but longer The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ? How can you make your users in Skopje and Athens both happy?

This is one of the examples I might use at the next Codemotion in Berlin. I do not expect to discuss in half an hour all the geopolitical challenges targeting an international audience and their workarounds, but I am very excited to present the talk “The (accidental) political developer” .

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You can find the abstract here and an introduction to the topic in my previous posts, The (accidental) political software developer and Location-based services and countries on AWS.

See you on October 12 & 13 at Kulturbrauerei!