Emerging technologies are disrupting and revolutionising a wide array of industries almost every day, and businesses often find it challenging to keep up with the latest trends due to the rapid pace of change. Nonetheless, one of the latest technologies to keep your eye on is geofencing; the real power of the feature lies in its versatility and ease of adapting it to our day-to-day operations.
It was in the 1970s that geofencing technology was first invented. The livestock industry was one of its first users. Cattle farmers would equip their herds with GPS units, and upon leaving the pre-defined perimeter, they would receive an alert.
Today, geofencing has transitioned from a niche market to being applied to various environments as more devices connect to the Internet of Things. From mobile marketing to enabling asset tracking and enhancing safety, geofencing provides users with the much-needed context to the device location. In its relatively new avatar, geofencing has become increasingly popular as more businesses learn about it – and for a good reason. Any IoT or internet-enabled device, combined with the ability to track a defined geographic area, offers seemingly endless possibilities for what companies can do with the feature.
Its varied applications include targeted marketing on social media to employee time tracking. However, the ability to use geofencing to enhance asset security, efficiency and improve safety are not yet known to many people. Today, as the world moves towards achieving the utopian dream of staying informed while ensuring security and privacy, technological innovations such as geofencing have become a useful tool in providing peace of mind when it comes to your asset’s whereabouts.
How does it work?
Geofencing allows any internet-enabled device with a GPS or asset tracker application to set up a virtual boundary around a particular location using mapping technology. It also enables users to establish action triggers, such that when an asset enters or leaves the pre-defined boundaries, users receive an alert – either via text messages, emails, or push notifications.
While the technology behind geofencing can be challenging to wrap one’s head around, the applicability of it is much simpler to understand. A typical example would be the integration of geofencing into vehicle tracking systems, which allows owners to monitor the movement of their assets remotely. If the vehicle moves beyond the pre-defined area, asset owners receive an alert, allowing them to take appropriate action. Ensuring the asset’s security and giving owners peace of mind, particularly when they are travelling and have no oversight on their vehicles’ location.
Recognising the benefits of doing so, Intelematics recently introduced the geofencing feature on its vehicle tracking platform CONNECT, which allows users to set up a geofence around any location, including their homes and workplaces. Likewise, if their vehicles travel outside the geofence, users get notified via their mobile applications.
Uncovering new applications
Knowing the whereabouts of your valuable assets, while important, is just the tip of the iceberg. Over time, geofencing has gained popularity as a security feature. Its benefits are percolating down both personal and business use cases.
The functionality of the geofence feature is exponentially multiplied when it works in tandem with other smart appliances. For instance, your smart home’s various devices – lights, thermostats and security system can be easily synced with your geofence and pre-set according to your preferences.
To illustrate, here’s a typical scenario: When all family members and smart devices have moved beyond the designated boundaries, the geofence can switch off all lights and unnecessary electronic appliances automatically. The reverse can also happen when a family member steps back into the area. With such capabilities in place, it is easy for users to automate their homes for greater convenience, but that’s not all – the technology can also be used to help you keep track of your loved ones.
The geofencing feature, combined with smart wearable GPS tracking devices helps you set boundaries around dangerous areas in your homes, such as swimming pools, to keep toddlers or pets away from potential safety hazards. Wearable devices like smart baby pendants and pet collars coupled with geofencing features, are great examples of how people are securing their loved ones from impending dangers around the house.
Similarly, geofencing feature in vehicle tracking devices allows parents to be aware of the whereabouts of their children. Alerts can be set to notify a parent when their child has left a particular area. This feature ensures parents know, when their kids have left the safe zone and where they are in case of their delayed absence and reach out to them in time if required.
Geofencing can also be used in fleet management software programs, allowing users to easily keep track of vehicle fleets, driver behaviour and more within the geofenced area. This provides companies with a significant competitive advantage as fleet managers are updated on all aspects of their vehicles in real-time, allowing them to identify potential areas of improvement across workers’ safety and productivity, and rectify them immediately.
If you are a mobile user, it is quite likely that you have been a target of geofencing marketing. Remember the push notifications and advertisements that you received on your smartphones upon nearing a brick-and-mortar store. Customers receive information and promotions tailored to their profiles when out on shopping trips, which allows them to make informed decisions even when on spontaneous shopping sprees.
The future of geofencing
As geofencing becomes increasingly common, some may wonder if there are any applications for geofence that are not yet in use. It is unlikely, as we see the technology being applied in all aspects of our lives, and the flexibility of geofence makes it possible for anyone to leverage it for different purposes. As a case in point, the Intelematics’ API offerings enable users who want to build their custom applications and integrations around this feature and take it to any extent they can envision.
This article examines how geofence is utilised today, but there may be future needs that will call for it to be added to new technologies – geofencing 2.0 could be just around the corner!