A Comprehensive Look at Indoor Location Tracking Technologies
Whether your goal is stronger customer engagement, improved productivity or risk mitigation, cleaning and security businesses need accurate indoor location tracking technology and information.
Businesses with distributed workforces, like security and cleaning contractors, need indoor location information to be accessible and cost effective. GPS, BLE beacons, Wi-Fi, radio frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC) are all important pieces of the puzzle, but each has its advantages and limitations.
Because trust is at the heart of cleaning and security services, your guard touring and location tracking software should enable real-time visibility of your entire workforce and provide assurance that all tours, loops and tasks are completed. Whether you’re a security contractor tracking guard tours and patrols, or you’re a cleaning contractor who monitors loop times and rotations, touring and tracking software helps you improve performance, reduce costs, prove service and mitigate risk.
So, which technology should your business use? Unfortunately, no single solution is the perfect answer to everything you might want to address. Usually, the right answer depends on what you’re trying to achieve, your environment and your budget.
To help you get started with evaluating indoor location tracking options, we’ve put together a list of the five most talked-about technologies to help you understand each one.
Small wireless devices called beacons broadcast signals using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a power-friendly version of traditional Bluetooth. Nearby smart devices listen for these signals, trigger actions and/or record analytics via mobile apps based on device proximity.
In addition to tracking guards or cleaners indoors, beacons are used to passively notify workers and managers of contextual information and send peer-to-peer messaging.
Wi-Fi hotspots are fixed anchor points providing a static known position. A device detects a Wi-Fi access point and, once multiple points are detected, can determine its position. Wi-Fi implementations require access points, a data service that computes location (and keeps track of all the locations at any given point), and location-specific context (a blueprint overlay of the building).
Wi-Fi is a commonly used for indoor location tracking because it works with existing building infrastructures, is easy to connect to, and only requires a guard or cleaner to be within a few yards of a location point.
Radio frequency identification, commonly known as RFID, is a form of wireless communication that uses radio waves to identify and track objects. An RFID location tracking system is comprised of tags, readers that communicate with each other using radio waves, and reader control and application software.
RFID is commonly used for SKU-level tracking of inventory and assets since the distance requirement for accuracy is less than an inch. It’s heavily used in inventory management because of its ability to identify many items at once without a direct line of sight.
Near-field communication (NFC) is most commonly known for its use in payments and transport ticketing (think about a subway card). It’s energy efficient, creating its own power when in the presence of an NFC-enabled smart device. It can be used on one-way communication (tapping a smart card to a computer terminal) or two-way communication (exchanging data between devices). However, per its name, NFC is a near field communication system, meaning it only works within a four-inch range.
NFC is commonly used for the secure delivery of information between two people or between a person and an item, for instance, between a guard or cleaner and a computer terminal.
Global positioning satellite (GPS) is based on a constellation of 24 satellites circling the planet in one of six orbits. GPS satellites broadcast radio signals providing their locations, status and precise time. Once the receiver in a GPS-enabled device knows its distance from at least four of the satellites, it uses geometry to determine its location on earth. Not only is the GPS infrastructure completely universal, almost all modern smart devices are GPS receivers.
The technology can be used for employee GPS tracking, for instance, if your guards or cleaners have routes between multiple sites that need to be tracked in addition to indoor routes at a single location. The right indoor location tracking solution depends on the goals of your business, existing infrastructure and constraints present.
To dive deeper into indoor location tracking technology, download our Indoor Locations Technologies eBook.