It would be interesting to provide some methods for two-way communication in the aprs.fi web user interface. Say, APRS messaging from a sort of a web chat, as a simple and obvious example. Or marking their position on the web map and having it seen on APRS-IS. Having tracker devices with an open-source firmware (like OpenTracker and the Finnish HaMDR) opens up more interesting solutions, like remote control, or actively requesting information from a vehicle.
But how on earth could I figure out if an user of the web site is a licensed amateur radio operator, so that he can be allowed to transmit? Automatically, with somewhat strong authentication against an existing database or set of databases, without a need for validating each user by hand? To be useful, it would need to work for more than a few countries (Finland, USA to start with).
It's quite unlikely that the issuers of the licenses (like the FCC in the USA, Ficora in Finland) would bother to create Internet authentication services for their license databases. But the amateur leagues (at least ARRL in the USA, and SRAL in Finland) are already giving out accounts to their web sites ("for members only" features), and I suppose they also know whether each member is licensed or not.
What if the leagues would provide an authentication service using the OpenID protocol? An user would first type in their ARRL or SRAL email address (email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org), then provide their sral.fi or arrl.org password to SRAL's or ARRL's site, and the authentication result, together with licensing status, would be passed back to aprs.fi (or another "licensed hams only" site).
This would require for the users to be members of one of the organizations providing OpenID authentication. But maybe some individual or organization could set up a trusted OpenID-enabled amateur database, charging each user $2 for the work of validating their license status.
Please, post a comment if you have any ideas for automatically validating the license status of a web site user.