There is a common misconception that beacons and other location aware technologies’ primary use case is in the retail sector. This is largely because it’s easy to see the advantages of using location-based technology in that market, not in the least because because it may help brick-and-mortar retailers compete with mobile or online shopping. Fortunately, beacon technology can offer many more benefits than simply pushing promotional offers to mobile devices. Beacons have the potential to help companies change operational processes and make day-to-day activities in the workplace more efficient.
Facilities management is one sector where there has been a lot of interest in beacon technology. For facilities managers there are a few key aspects that make beacons compelling. Beacons are about driving intelligence and surfacing the right information depending on a user’s location or proximity to a place or asset. With beacons, there is potential for use of the technology in anything, from indoor navigation, to smarter meeting rooms, security patrols and asset management.
The current generation of beacons can provide facilities managers with the ability to connect assets, to help maintenance engineers get the right information based on the asset they are closest to. Beacons can help facilities managers to understand where different teams of maintenance employees, cleaners and security employees are, how long they are spending on tasks and other potentially useful information.
In some other cases, facilities managers are looking to use beacons as a way to help control crowds or provide better directions indoors. Major League Baseball in the US is using beacons for facilities management, by using it to help direct visitors around the venue and help them get to their seats.
Mubaloo has worked on some projects which are focused around providing intelligence to assets to help maintenance teams get the information they need, at the right time. Another example has focused around alerting employees about safety messages when in certain locations, to ensure they are following processes.
There are a variety of factors organisations need to consider to ensure the success of their beacons deployment. Environmental and spatial conditions can play a part in how beacons operate. Beacons have to be optimised for their surroundings to work effectively. The other consideration would be whether the company wants to invest in creating the app, or what the user experience is designed for. Creating the context is key and this involves a thorough understanding of what information the end-user will find useful in a particular scenario.
In the UK, MiBeacons is pioneering the use of contextual technology and helping the market understand the possibilities and opportunities the technology offers.