Location provides a strong tie between social networking and GIS (see Figure 2). Its significance can be attributed to the need to expand social networking capabilities for offering location-based solutions.
The primary motivation behind the research efforts on integrating GIS (spatial analysis capabilities) into social networks comes from the need to analyze the locational data of people and provide location-based services to users. GIS can reveal hidden information, analyze the data from different perspectives and summarize them into useful information, extract spatial patterns, analyze spatial relationship, identify problematic areas, and recommend possible solutions based on user-generated data in a social networking context. For example, in a carpooling context, the GIS-based social networking tool can examine information nearby using the GPS-enabled smart phone and looks at exactly where everyone lives and works to find perfect carpool matches for everyone. This tool could perform a wide range of spatial analyses including distance, overlay, and route finding analyses based on trip information, such as time, the origin, destination, trip, and detour distance ranges to provide a number of location-based services including finding potential travelers and best routes for traveling. The synergistic effects gained by integrating GIS into social networking sites constitute a fundamental paradigm shift in GIS, from the old model of an intelligent assistant serving the needs of a single user seated at a desk, to a new mode in which GIS act as media for communicating and sharing knowledge about the planet’s surface with and among the common people (Sui and Goodchild, 2011; Guidotti et al., 2017; Bachmann et al., 2018).