And remember: Not every data point requires asking the customer to approve revealing their location through their browser. Google, Yahoo, and others offer geocoding solutions that convert street addresses into coordinates. Useful maps can be generated with just a ZIP code and a table that lists the geographic center of each ZIP code.
Check out low-risk IT experiment No. 5: NoSQL
Low-risk IT experiment No. 5: NoSQL Just 10 months ago, NoSQL was of interest to just a few IT speed freaks who sought to build the most efficient data storage engines ever. These engineers looked at the SQL databases and realized that JOINs slowed performance and made it difficult, if not impossible, to spread data over multiple machines. Sure, they could have denormalized the tables and investigated some automatic sharding tools, but it's much more fun to spark a revolution.
Many of the resulting open source NoSQL tools -- Cassandra, MongoDB, and CouchDB, to name a few -- require a fair amount of experimentation and a willingness to put up with rough edges. Add the fact that they're not yet ready for mission-critical projects, and you can see why your experience with NoSQL may vary.
But for IT departments looking to make the most of noncritical data, NoSQL's fast response time and scaling simplicity can prove fruitful. The tools themselves sacrifice accuracy to achieve this performance -- "eventual consistency," as it has been referred to in the NoSQL community. Anyone who has watched postings appear and disappear from Facebook will know how users of NoSQL databases, which includes Facebook, are not worried about keeping servers completely consistent.