Security and Indoor Positioning Systems

Many times we associate IPS with commercial applications, such as retail stores and malls, where an IPS is deployed to identify past or potential customers and used to entice customers to purchase via texting and discount coupons. But IPS has many other uses such as life safety and security, providing an innovative way to locate and communicate with people inside buildings during emergency situations.

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is looking at indoor positioning to enhance emergency response as well. The FCC has suggested a current baseline for indoor positioning for use in emergency response. One of the concerns is determining vertical location in a multilevel building. An FCC report concludes: "While the location positioning platforms tested provided a relatively high level of yield, as well as improved accuracy performance, the results clearly indicate additional development is required.”

Life safety situations and emergencies obviously require a more immediate and critical response. These include emergencies, fires, tornado and hurricanes, and active shooter situations. For the security industry, IPS is a key tool in pinpointing the real-time location of individuals inside buildings that help first responders during the incident and also provide information to assess the situation after the incident.

In addition to locating individuals, IPS based on smartphones can provide communications during an incident. Communicating with people in a building by first responders and law enforcement assists law enforcement in locating a possible shooter. Bi-directional communications can help people in the building to be guided to the safest exit passageways. (It is worth noting that over 70 percent of all emergency calls come from mobile phones). The indoor positioning system can also be used in conjunction with an Access Control System to trigger an alarm notification if a worker or asset enters or leaves certain predefined zones

Many deployments of indoor positioning systems use multiple technologies, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth BLE. Such installations strive for more precise and exact locations. Multiple technologies also provide some resiliency and reliability in the system. The use of multiple technologies may allow for compatibility with a larger spectrum of support for user smartphone and tablet devices.

For incidents that are occurring with growing frequency in shopping malls, office buildings, schools, and even government facilities, hybrid IPS technologies combining Wi-Fi and beacons offer the best methodology available to protect individuals, reduce injuries, and prevent loss of life.

Hybrid IPS technologies offer the most design flexibility, better accuracy, and a lower total cost of ownership—all of which are great advantages to organizations that have limited security budgets, yet have a strong need to provide a safer environment to customers, personnel, and visitors. Beyond that, by leveraging technology that may already be in place, such as existing Wi-Fi networks or beacons in retail environments, hybrid IPS technologies are faster to implement and easier to integrate with existing security systems. Finally, it makes sense to capitalize on the pervasiveness of mobile devices. The FCC is looking at indoor positioning to enhance emergency response.

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