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How to distinguish between geolocation and georeferencing
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How to distinguish between geolocation and georeferencing 

How to distinguish between geolocation and georeferencing – More and more people currently use mapping systems in their daily lives. With all the technological advances that are taking place, the time has come to make way for the 2.0 world and forget about the more traditional methods.

Some of the functions most used by users can be: how to get to the place where we have been using the shortest route, locate our next vacation destination on the map, or inform a relative of exactly where we are. When using these services, two concepts appear geolocation and georeferencing.

Although a priori may seem the same, and, on many occasions, they used interchangeably, there several differences between them, both in their definition and applications. It is essential to know them to speak correctly. The Polytechnic University of Valencia defines georeferencing as a process by which a ground coordinate reference system is provided to a digital image initially found in pixel coordinates.

For its part, geolocation, according to the definition offered by Techopedia, is the identification of a device’s location, for example, a radar, mobile phone or any technological device connected to the Internet. It is related to position detection systems but adds data such as information on the area, streets, premises, etc.

In countries like Spain, they are terms that are not yet widely used; in fact, not even the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language dictionary includes any of these meanings. Perhaps, when talking about these concepts purely theoretically, a complete understanding of them not reached; therefore, we will give two examples that help us differentiate them. Google has two platforms that well known to users: Google Earth and Google Maps, each one associated with one of the terms.

Google Earth is a georeferencing system

that allows us to locate specific points of geography on the map. In addition, this application also allows us to get an aerial view of the locations and navigate through them, but the map is created from the selection of a data set.

Geolocation has a particular feature: it allows us to locate a device on the map in real time. For example, what Google Maps does is geolocate our machine, that is, access our exact location and offer us the different functions of the application based on this.

It is true that it also has a georeferencing system, that is, we can see maps of other places other than the one we are in, but the key and added value of geolocation is that through this system, we will be able to locate our device and above all to obtain information in real-time.

A few years ago, it seemed unthinkable that any ordinary citizen would have access to this type of system, but with the globalization of technology, it has become possible. Being such an accessible application, users must protect themselves from these networks’ dangers. We must control the options offered by our device in terms of location and GPS since we could find ourselves with the unpleasant surprise of sharing the site we are on through social media without knowing it.

How to know if we have geolocation services activated:

First, it should noted that sometimes having geolocation services activated has excellent advantages, such as receiving offers when passing near an establishment, obtaining information about nearby restaurants, and letting you know if there friends nearby or traffic jams on the way. , change the time automatically… in short, the list of utilities is enormous. That said, it is good to know how to control and be able to decide which services we give or do not access to our position in real-time; these are the instructions for the two central operating systems:


In Android, not all devices work the same way; these instructions are the ones that apply to all phones and tablets running Android 8.0 and later.

  • To find out which apps use our location, open device Settings (the little cogwheel, which also called “Settings”)
  • Enter “security and location” and then “location” again.
  • Now click on “Recent location requests”, and you will see the list of those who have used your position recently.
  • By clicking on each app, you can determine the type of permission we give it (Permissions button)
  • To deactivate all location services, within “Settings” and “Security and location”, you will also find the option “access my location”. If you deactivate it, your mobile will stop sharing your position with all the apps you have installed.


  • On its official page, Apple warns that, in the event of an emergency call, the position of the device may be located to facilitate the rescue, even if we have location services disabled. The same happens if we look for the iPhone in lost mode.
  • In all other cases, the device will follow our instructions. It’s easy to turn location services on or off on an iPhone. You have to go to “Settings” (the icon that looks like a clock gear), and from there to “Privacy” and “Location”.
  • From this screen, we can either deactivate the location entirely or enter each of the apps that use these services and determine the degree of access we grant to our site.
  • The iPhone can also share locations with other users through the “Friends” app. In case you have it activated, within the “location” screen, you will see a list of contacts who can locate you in real-time.

Uses of geolocation at the business level

For companies, geolocation can be a handy tool to obtain information about the environment and get insights that allow commercial actions to be personalized and segmented so that they are less invasive, more appropriate to the needs of consumers and, in addition, multiply the ratios and improve the sales objectives of the companies. An example is the case of insurance companies, in which the geolocation of clusters of insured homes minimizes the risk of financial debacle due to a natural disaster. Not surprisingly, a study entitled “What Matters Most in Internet Retailing”, published by MIT Sloan Management Review, reveals that although a priori an Ecommerce can sell and deliver almost unlimitedly, the location of buyers is the most crucial factor when it comes to multiplying their sales.

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