Imagine being able to change the very dynamics of managing attendance, security and emergency response by using very inexpensive and small devices such as beacons--sounds great, right? Well now you can.
Today's smartphone culture in schools has brought a lot of new possibilities in leveraging real-time location services without having to change your entire wireless infrastructure.
The significance of real time location services stems from the amount of possibilities this type of service brings.
There's almost an endless amount of new things schools can do using RTLS to optimize various different tasks and operations, creating both a more efficient and more interactive school environment.
To give you a more detailed look at how powerful RTLS (beacons) can be, we've put together 3 of the coolest ways real-time location services can be used in your school today.
1. Automated Time and Attendance Reporting
Do you remember how long it took for your teacher to call out each of your classmates’ names just to record attendance? Taking attendance is not only time consuming but in some cases isn't always accurate either.
By using real time location services, time and attendance reporting can be automated. This can be done through beacons that prompt the app on a smartphone when a student has arrived in class.
There are also apps that allow the teacher’s iPad to automatically show a student’s profile picture and name as he or she comes in.
Also, by using a concept called “geofencing,” you can determine who’s in the room at any given time. This will allow teachers to manage their students more efficiently and accurately.
This reduces the need of pen and paper based manual attendance tracking systems and greatly optimizes the classroom dynamic.
Suggested Reading: "3 Schools Creating Perfect Interactive Experiences Using Beacons"
2. Emergency Notification Systems
Emergency response is one of the most critical concerns for every school. Beacons have the ability to introduce a service that will greatly improve how schools manage and respond during emergency situations.
There are apps that use beacon technology to essentially turn every mobile phone within the vicinity into valuable information gathering tools that can instantly connect with security personnel and each other.
It provides schools with potentially tens of thousands of active bystanders who can then provide critical information to key personnel to quickly and more effectively respond to the situation.
By installing beacons that connect to a mobile application, schools can create a localized notification system that limits alerts to devices within that area alone.
The program lets users notify security personnel and proceed with the targeted notifications. This allows the app to determine who receives the alerts based on location.
What this means is if an emergency happens in a library, only those within the area of the nearby beacons will be notified. If there is an issue on campus, security can alert students around that area without raising unnecessary alarm to the entire school.
3. Blue Dot Wayfinding
By now, everybody is familiar with GPS technology. Using it to get around outdoors is now an easy and common practice, however, when it comes to indoor environments, GPS is essentially useless.
To address this, wifi has been used to improve indoor location wayfinding, and while this has worked well there is now a new option that will change everything.
Beacons utilize small devices to send signals via bluetooth to your mobile device. This allows for more accurate indoor navigation.
As an example, suppose it's Jane's first day of school. When she comes in, the mobile app she was required to download will be notified by a signal from a beacon and greet Jane as she enters the campus.
This interaction notifies the school that Jane has arrived and she is then prompted with the location of each of her classrooms.
Taking this a step further, her application flips to an indoor map of the school and, using blue dot wayfinding, helps her find her way to each of her classes via "GPS style" wayfinding.
Suggested Reading: "11 Helpful Ways Beacons are Changing Education"
Mobile devices are continually becoming more powerful, and their adoption has prompted different technologies to be established, boosting their overall usefulness even further.
With companies like Google, Apple and many many more expanding the use of beacons, we can expect to see RTLS technology continue to emerge in the K-12 or higher education wireless environments.