Geofencing, a location-based service, has an app or other software using GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, or cellular data. It helps trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, known as a geofence.
It’s no secret that mobile apps are tracking the location of their users. Moreover, users are permitting them to do so. Whenever you download and use a new app, you’ll get a notification that requests permission to access your location. Here’s an example of what this notification looks like on iOS devices.
You can’t even use some apps unless you share your location with them. So, for example, if you’re using a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, you won’t be able to get connected with a driver unless the app knows exactly where you are.
But now, location-based services are trending in a new direction. Companies that don’t need your location are still requesting it. Instead, they are using it to improve their marketing efforts. 70% of apps share user data with third-party services.
How a geofence is configured can prompt mobile push notifications, trigger text messages or alerts, and send targeted advertisements on social media. In addition, it allows tracking on vehicle fleets, disables specific technology, or delivers location-based marketing data.
Some geofences are set up to monitor secure areas, allowing management to see alerts when entering or leaving a specific location. Businesses can employ geofencing to monitor employees in the field, automate time cards, and hold company property.
Working of Geofencing
To use geofencing, an administrator or developer must first establish a virtual boundary around a specified location in GPS- or RFID-enabled software. It can be as easy as a circle drawn 100 feet around a place on Google Maps, as specified using APIs when developing a mobile app. This virtual geofence will trigger a response when an authorized device enters or exits that area, as determined by the developer or administrator.
A geofence is most ordinarily defined within a mobile application system, notably, since users need to opt-in to location services for the geofence to work. So, if you go to a concert venue, they might have an app you can download to deliver information about the performance. Or, a retailer might carry a geofence around its outlets to trigger mobile warnings for clients who have downloaded the retailer’s mobile app. In these circumstances, a geofence maintained by the retailer is programmed into the app, and users can opt to descend location access for the app.
A geofence can also be fixed up by end-users using geofencing abilities in their mobile apps. These apps, like iOS Reminders, enable you to determine an address or location where you desire to trigger a specific alert or push notification called an “if this, then that” command. It is an app programmed to trigger an action based on another activity. For example, you might request a reminder app to alert you once you arrive at a specific neighborhood.
Geofencing isn’t simply for mobile apps – it’s related to control and trace carriers in the transportation industry, cattle in the farming industry. Nearly every drone is pre-programmed to support geofencing, set up open-air venues around airports and even the President’s House. The FAA can establish these drone-resistant geofences upon request – some restrictions will prevent a drone in mid-air, while others will trigger an alert message to the user. In addition, some drone geofences will ask for a users’ authorization – a process that ties the user’s identity to their drone – so that law enforcement can keep track of unmanned drones.
Uses of Geofencing
With the skyrocketing demand for mobile devices, geofencing has become a regular practice for plenty of companies. Once a geographic area has been established, the opportunities are seemingly limitless for what firms can do, and it has become trendy in social media and marketing.
Some hospitality and retail businesses will set up geofences around their opponent, so you’ll get a push notification advising you to visit the other establishment when you approach the boundary. You might step into a retail store and see a coupon pushed to your device. Likewise, if you download a grocery app, chances are it will register when you drive by to prompt an alert, trying to get you to stop in.
- Social networking: One typical recognizable application for geofencing is popular social networking apps — most prominently, Snapchat. Location-based stickers, filters, and other shareable content are made possible with geofencing. So whether you’re using a promoted filter at a concert, using a custom-made filter for a friend’s birthday, or uploading to the public, location-based stories, it’s all acknowledgments to these virtual boundaries.
- Marketing: Geofencing is a convenient way for businesses to deliver in-store promotions, alerting you right as you step into a range of the store. Geofencing also helps companies target ads to a specific audience to determine what strategies work best based on user location data.
- Smart appliances: As more devices get “smart,” with Bluetooth abilities, it’s more comfortable than ever to program your refrigerator to remind you that you’re out of milk the next time you cross by the grocery shop. Or you can ensure the thermostat is set to the perfect temperature when you arrive home from work by employing a geofence.
- Audience action: Geofencing is used to interlace crowds of people at established events, like festivals, fairs, concerts, and more. For instance, a concert venue employs a geofence for crowdsourcing social media posts or delivering information about the venue or event.
- Human resources: Some businesses rely on geofencing to control employees, especially workers who use time off-site fieldwork. It’s also an uncomplicated way to automate time cards, measuring employees in and out as they grow and go.
- Security: Geofencing does appear invasive — and it has the potential to sometimes exhibit an overreach depending on how it’s practiced. However, geofencing can also be employed to bring more security to your mobile device.
- Telematics: Geofencing can effectively enable companies to bring virtual zones around sites, work areas, and defend areas. They can be triggered by a transport or a person and broadcast alerts or notifications to the operator.
It’s easier to target users from a marketing perspective if you know their location. For example, businesses are using geofencing to make more money. So if someone with an app downloaded to their device walks into a specific geofenced area, they’ll get a push notification from the app with some promotion based on that location.