Internet of People. A primer on people tracking IoT technology

Cascajo Sastre María    15 June, 2016

Billions of connected things. We hear it all the time. But what does this actually mean? What are those things? Are they only devices? No they are not. We can also manage human assets through technology.

Privacy issues always arise when the location of a person is being used. Tracking people cannot be mixed with snooping into people’s private lives. There are many use cases where tracking the whereabouts of a person brings ease of mind, or solves a shortcoming where no satisfactory solutions previously existed. Here are some of the clearest use cases for people tracking:

  • Workers that operate in hazardous environments: miners, oil & gas workers, firefighters, mountain & forest patrol rangers, alpine rescue teams, etc.
  • Being aware of location of our children: during routes to school, during school hours, on their way home, etc.
  • Patients with limited mobility, babies, elder population, and patients with special needs: offers the ability to monitor and assist patients both within medical premises or offer telecare at the patient’s home
  • Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems (mPERS): to issue immediate alerts to law enforcement agents if a situation of personal danger arises
  • Medical premises: location of doctors and nurses within hospitals
  • Penitentiary facilities: inmate control, law enforcement agents, etc.
  • Dangerous sports assistance: endurance events, skiers, surf, hiking, rallies, etc.
  • Mobile workforce: delivery workers, salespeople, construction workers, security services, etc.

Besides these uses we already explored others in two previous posts where, we covered indoor location and smart retail trends that guide users within large premises (airports, stadiums, trade show, etc.) and enhances their shopping experience.

Any massive event opens the possibility for new uses thanks to personal tracking: music festivals or sports events (like races and marathons) for instance.

What technology do we use to track a person’s location?

There is no simple answer to this question or at least there is not one single answer to this question. Current technology allows to pinpoint location with a 1m accuracy. There are passive elements and active ones. The Spanish technological firm tracktio specializes in this field and acknowledges RTLS (Real Time Location Systems) as a mix of different radio frequency technologies: from beacons, or RFID/BLE sensors embedded in wearables, to general purpose technologies such as WiFi or Bluetooth LE in the elements we already have with us on a daily basis such as smartphones or smartwatches.

The low cost of sensors, their reduced size, and the possibility of turning them into wearables (stitching them into garments, embedding them in wristbands or other personal items, attaching them, etc.) makes it seamless to connect people in just a few seconds to a RTLS.

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