From The Editor | February 22, 2013

Geofencing's Growth Potential

By Sarah Howland, Editor In Chief, Field Technologies magazine

The concept of geofencing isn’t brand-new, but the technology that enables geofencing has advanced to the point that analyst organizations are projecting major growth in the next few years. A statement recently released by ABI Research stated, “With lowcost developer’s tools becoming available, geofencing is finally coming out of the shadows, moving beyond traditional location-based applications, to form the backbone of a host of new applications and services. Collectively, geofencing will enable whole new multibillion dollar markets in emerging areas including retail, enterprise, push notification, local search, and social networking. However, the provision of geofencing tools will be a market in its own right, forecast to reach almost $300 million in 2017. More developers are increasingly looking to pivot to enterprise applications, and geofencing will open the door with companies that are happy to pay for services that provide ROI.”

What does this mean for you? The growth of geofencing will open the door to new and advanced capabilities to optimize your mobile workforce. If you’re familiar with geofencing, it’s probably in the GPS black-box scenario, where you can set a geofence to keep track of a vehicle or piece of equipment equipped with a GPS black box. For example, setting geofences can help you to track the arrival and departure of your mobile workers to automate timesheet verification, to ensure they’re operating in locations you deem productive, etc. The black-box application is also especially useful for asset tracking and security. For instance, a construction company can arm its equipment with GPS and set geofences so they know if it is removed from the area of use. This helps companies reduce theft and unauthorized use.

GPS-Enabled Devices Expand Geofencing Possibilities
Today, though, the use of geofencing has expanded beyond the GPS blackbox. Many mobile devices and most smartphones are equipped with GPS, providing countless opportunities for you to leverage geofencing capabilities via the mobile devices your techs are carrying on the job. For instance, you can set geofences to automatically launch applications when a tech leaves or enters a set area. This means you could have navigation on their device launch automatically when they leave a set area of town. This could even lead to applications where the tech doesn’t have to manually interact as much with the device. If a geofence were set for customer locations the tech is visiting, the application could automatically update when the tech arrives on-site or departs for his next location, rather than the tech having to enter this information. This would take the productivity gains of a mobile solution to the next level by reducing a manual step. One big challenge the use of geofencing with mobile devices presents, though, is the drain on that device’s battery. This issue will need to be addressed before geofencing capabilities will be able to reach mainstream use.