AWS announces general availability of Amazon Location Services


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Amazon Web Services (AWS) today announced the general availability of Amazon Location Service, a new offering that makes it easier for enterprises to add location functionality to their applications.

With the service, Amazon says customers can integrate location functionalities in a simpler, more cost-effective way, without compromising on user privacy or security. The data, from location-based service (LBS) providers Esri and HERE Technologies, can provide maps, points of interest, route planning, geocoding, geofencing, and asset tracking.

The news comes just days after the company announced the general availability of Redshift ML, which lets customers use SQL to query and combine structured and semi-structured data across data warehouses, operational databases, and data lakes.

Removing the barriers to entry

While enterprises across industries view location data as vital for various use cases, pricing and difficult integration processes have been a barrier. Amazon says the company’s Location Services offering is as low as one-tenth the cost for geocoding and routing and “a fraction of the cost” for most mapping use cases, when compared to the most common LBS providers. What’s more, the service comes with many built-in capabilities, such as tracking and geofencing. This can eliminate the need for customers to spend resources building their own solutions.

The service also provides a single API that works across LBS providers, allowing customers to easily switch between them for different use cases or regions. More specifically, it enables such variation without the need to onboard new vendors or set up separate supporting infrastructure.

Naturally, Amazon Location Services integrates with the company’s other offerings, including Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudTrail, and Amazon EventBridge. It also integrates with AWS Identity, Access Management (IAM), and Amazon Cognito, allowing customers to reduce system complexity and maintain consistent security practices.

Data privacy

With the announcement, Amazon is emphasizing the fact that licensing terms associated with Amazon Location Service do not grant the company or third parties the rights to sell a customer’s location data or use it for advertising. It’s not clear if data could be used for other purposes.

Amazon Location Service also removes customer metadata and account information from queries before they are sent to an LBS provider. Additionally, the company says sensitive tracking and geofencing information doesn’t ever leave a customer’s AWS account unless they choose to share it.

As with most kinds of data, location-based data has been involved in the slow but consistent erosion of consumer privacy. But consumers are increasingly looking for reasonable privacy protections. There has also been an uptick in consumer privacy regulations around the world, with more on the way.

Eyes are already on AWS. Just last week, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) began an investigation into whether organizations are effectively protecting citizens’ personal data when using AWS, as well as Microsoft’s Azure cloud services. The inquiry comes after last summers’ Schrems II ruling, which affected the transfer of personal data between the U.S. and the European Union.


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