Indoor location positioning has the potential to revolutionise security and safety solutions, according to a leading expert.
Apple’s recent acquisition of indoor GPS company WifiSLAM for a reported $20 million illustrated how the technology is making huge breakthroughs in 2013. The two-year-old start-up developed indoor positioning technologies so mobile apps could detect a user’s location inside a building via WiFi, with accuracy of up to 2.5 metres.
While the technology has been utilised by application developers for retail and social networking apps, the indoor mapping capability opens up possibilities for positioning playing a huge role in security scenarios.
Indoor location technology on a smartphone augments a combination of GPS and Wi-Fi network point hotspots to find your location faster than a typical in-car GPS device – which relies solely on GPS satellite signals which can be blocked by various factors.
Josh Sookman, CEO of Canadian mobile app develop Guardly, said the use of indoor position technology is “relatively new” in terms of commercial applications, with the technology previously used in the military but unable to make traction beyond large-scale installations due to the cost.
However, there is now scope for indoor positioning technology to be utilised across a range of sites, including university buildings and campuses, airports and shopping malls – anywhere where an organisation has a duty of care to protect individuals. Existing Wi-Fi infrastructure within buildings can be leveraged for a cost-effective security solution without the need for an entire network overhaul or the addition of new devices.
One key area for indoor location technology is being able to find people in emergency situations. The level of positioning means emergency responders can be provided with accurate information, even if the person cannot communicate further than triggering the alert or is in a multi-level building.
Guardly has showcased the potential of indoor position technology through its Guardly Safe Campus solution – which was shown during a customer-led study to reduce emergency response times by around 44 per cent. The company claimed its location accuracy exceeded current public safety standards during testing.
“In the case of a building lockdown or a fire, it can be used by individuals to notify emergency responders or security operators that they are still in that building,” said Sookman.
“If they are unable to communicate, or there are multiple individuals who have to relay their position, this data is really valuable as it can save responders valuable time and energy as they can find out exactly where the people are located.”
Further than emergency call situations, Sookman predicted a wide range of opportunities where indoor positioning technology could play a massive role in the future.
“It could be used in child protection, it could it be used in a shopping mall for tenants to report an emergency and drive local security to them,” he said.
“It could be used by airlines or airports to report suspicious activity and have local security know exactly where there are. There is a huge list of scenarios that we can use the technology for, or what it could be used for by customers.”