What is a geofencing?
A geofence is a virtual geographic boundary around a physical location.
When you break up the word “geofence” in two separate parts, you get geo and fence.
- GEO: Of course, geo is short for geography or location.
- FENCE: Now, everyone can relate to fence which is usually a boundary line such as between you and your neighbor.
When you put them together, you get a geographic boundary which is really what a geofence is… a virtual geographic boundary line. And this can be a very powerful tool.
Because geofencing can detect when someone enters or leaves a location, it can send real-time alerts or notifications. For example, it can send a text message to a mobile phone and increases awareness.
Trigger responses with geofences
The purpose of geofencing is usually to trigger an event. For example, if you enter within a boundary, it sends a text message to you.
Nowadays, the most common industries that use geofencing are:
Really, it’s all about increasing awareness for the user. Whether it’s customers, criminals or drivers, we can use geofencing in unique and innovative ways.
1 Alert potential customers for sales
In retail, geofencing brings a world of opportunity for laser-targeted advertisements to consumers in a given area.
Think about it for a second:
When consumers enter within a distance of a restaurant, they get a text message tailored to their likes and needs.
If your favorite dessert is 50% off, just how tempting is it to walk that extra 50 metres away?
In fact, Apple uses this sales tactic to attract customers into the Apple Store. Enter geofencing marketing, a new way to advertise and to get customers into a store.
2 Notify parents of children’s location for safety
For public safety, geofencing can notify parents if their children leave a designated area. By creating this imaginary boundary line where kids can play, it gives that bit of safety.
Not only for parents, but geofencing can increase the safety of firearms. For example, it can notify areas for permitted firearms reducing casualty.
The FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app signals the requirements to fly drones at locations. Delineating those no fly-zones is 10x easier, if you can be notified exactly where that fine imaginary boundary line is.
Also, car rental companies can prevent their rented vehicles from traveling out of a geofence.
3 Signal truck drivers for deliveries
In delivery, trucks use geofencing to signal when deliveries trucks enter a proximity. As soon as it’s within the boundary, it signals an event for pick up delivery.
Businesses are always trying to save costs for efficiencies. For geofencing, it automatically tracks when delivery trucks enter or leave premises. In turn, this reduces time to sign papers or get the people to unload the truck.
Geofencing can even notify customers when a delivery truck is within a certain distance.
ArcGIS GeoEvent Server for Geofencing
The ArcGIS GeoEvent Server is Esri’s geofencing platform. You can connect to GPS devices and social media and construct your own real-time awareness apps.
Also, you can connect to streaming data feeds and automatically send alerts by emails or text messages. In addition, you can update a database or perform other types of events.
Valarm is one of the leading monitoring platforms that uses geofencing. They’ve monitored flooding, air quality and even noise with a real-time dashboard.
One of the best things is how it integrates with ArcGIS Online, Esri’s cloud-based platform. As part of this whole platform, users can intuitively create apps and maps in the cloud. In turn, your organization can use these online apps for mobile, tablet and even field collection.
To Geofence or Not to Geofence. That is the Question
Sounds almost poetic, doesn’t it? But geofencing is about increasing awareness in real-time situations. Whether it’s for security, retail or delivery, we will continue to see geofencing usage increase.
Really, this is just the beginning step to the Internet of Things – a more connected and responsive system of sensors, signals and devices.
What are some of your neat applications of geofencing?
Let us know with a comment below.