With the advent of Internet of Things (IoT) technology and location-based sensors (such as GPS), we now have the ability for personal security solutions to include a location tracking capability. Rapid assistance from a danger or threat can now be a button push away.
What comes to mind when you think about personal security? You may be thinking about the locks on the doors of your home. Or an alarm system in addition to the locks. Perhaps an armed guard or team of guards following you around. Or maybe it’s access to a gun!
While these are valid examples of personal security solutions, they all have their limitations. Locks on doors and in-home alarm systems protect you while you are in your home, but if you leave the home, they become irrelevant from a personal security standpoint.
Very few people can afford the expense and inconvenience of an armed guard following them around, let alone a team of armed guards. And, not everyone has the freedom and training to carry a gun along with the confidence that they could use it responsibly.
Of course, security means much more than preventing harm from bad guys. A bad guy qualifies as a danger or threat of course, but so does physical injury from a fall or accident. As does the fear of being stranded in an unfamiliar place with a broken down car.
You may not be able to prevent bad things from happening, but with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, a software platform combined with location based sensors, security services are now available to ensure that you can get help when needed. Assistance from a danger or threat can now be a button-push away.
The capability to locate and track people and assets in real time is made possible with Internet of Things technology. Bridgera IoT, a custom cloud platform, provides individuals with a sense of security through IoT technology. The subscriber knows that if something happens, they can push a button and be in communication with a call center operator. Before a verbal connection is made however, the call center operator will know who is calling, their exact location, if they are moving or stationary, and details about them such as medical history and emergency contacts. This information will be instantly available to the operator within their central station monitoring dashboard thanks to Internet of Things technology.
Emergency response call centers have the option of issuing a personal emergency response device to subscribers, designed specifically to support the example above. Or, they can issue the Bridgera Rescue Smartphone App. This app provides the exact same function as the physical device, but is contained within a smartphone. The service offering can now be expanded by providing subscribers with tow truck, police, ambulance, or security assistance. The platform pinpoints the subscriber’s location and assists the call center with dispatching the appropriate help.
Leveraging the location tracking capabilities of the Bridgera IoT platform, a complementary use case is the ability to provide a location tracking service via the Bridgera TrackMe App. The TrackMe app provides a dispatch and route tracking capability for the service provider to show that they are in route to where help is needed and provide traceability after the service is complete.
A location tracking IoT solution starts with a location sensing device. This can be a hardware device built for that purpose or it could be an App installed on a smartphone which leverages the location sensing capability of the phone. The location sensor on the device attempts to triangulate on known points to provide a relative location. “I am 2 meters from known point X, 3 meters from known point Y, and 5 meters from known point Z”, for example. X, Y, and Z could be distances to known locations such as cell towers, WiFi routers, RFID readers, BLE beacons, or GPS satellites.
The location tracking device must have the capability to broadcast its location to a remote system (or cloud platform such as Bridgera IoT) for processing. Depending on the data sent, the remote system will need to compute the location and translate it into something that can be understood by the consumer (a person or another system).
Computing the location can be as straightforward as plotting geo-coordinates (longitudinal and latitudinal) on a map and providing an address if possible. However, the remote system must know when to provide an address and when an address is not appropriate, such as cases where the device may be in a park or on a highway.
In applications where the location sensing device may not have GPS sensors, or the GPS satellites are obstructed, location can be found by triangulating on known access points (cell towers, WiFi routers, etc.). In these cases, the remote system must perform the calculations from a database of known access points and approximate the location based on the margin of error associated with the device’s calculation of the distance between it and each known access point. While there are many computational “tricks” that a cloud platform like Bridgera IoT can perform to pinpoint a location, in many non-GPS cases the result is an approximate location.
Another layer of complexity is introduced when the system is required to track a location sensing device that is in motion. The system must have the capability to receive data packets from the location-sensing device in time-based intervals. The frequency of those intervals can be a trade-off between accuracy of the route plot, battery life of the device, as well as speed of travel.
There are a lot of opportunities to enhance a security service with a robust location tracking solution. The more capabilities you can provide, the more effective the service will be. For example, you may provide your customers with the ability to find their location in-doors or out-doors with a device built specifically for tracking or with a smartphone app that can be installed on the customer’s phone at minimal cost.
Equally important is having the flexibility to service your customers when they need help by having a user interface that is intuitive and maps to your business process. If you are using a central station solution with a call center today, having the ability to integrate with that solution rather than operate out of two systems can be a big time saver. You may even consider offering value add services to the customer by giving them a dashboard to allow their friends and family to be notified of their location if they need assistance. Or providing a trace capability so that your customer can follow the progress of a service provider in route to assist them with their emergency.
Allow Bridgera to demonstrate the Bridgera IoT platform and explore white-label options for enhancing your security based service offering.
About the Author: Ron Pascuzzi leads sales and marketing at Bridgera, LLC in Raleigh, NC. Ron is an evangelist for the Internet of Things and believes that IoT initiatives should not be compromised due to a lack of software development skills. Contact him to learn more about Bridgera IoT, which is not just another IoT Platform but Custom Software-as-a-Service for the Internet of Things.