As a society, we’ve become very used to using technology tools to tell us where we are, and telling us where we want to go. If some of us were perfectly honest, we’d have a hard time using a traditional road map (the paper kind) to map out and follow vs. using our android, iPhone or GPS units in our cars. I would certainly fall into that category. Heck, with my droid phone, I don’t even type anything in; I just talk to it and tell it what I want.
But isn’t it funny that IT Managers are still walking around inside buildings to find a Wi-Fi Enabled device?
If we’re using our GPS systems to track things outside, why aren’t we using our wireless network management software and tools on our network to track things inside the walls?...Kind of like Indoor GPS, if you will.
If you’re not there yet, no worries, getting on the road to Real Time Location Services Wi-Fi RTLS isn’t as hard as you may think.
Here are the three things you’ll need to make RTLS happen:
Wireless Access Points deployed in a grid fashion
Wi-Fi RTLS uses access points to locate where the user or device is the same way cell phone towers locate a phone inside a particular area.
The system uses triangulation to determine the location, so ideally you want the user to be in range of at least 3 access points.
The more access points that can “hear” a user, the more accurate the location information will be.
Centralized Management and Control
Most systems that can perform RLTS use a wireless controller to do so.
A few hardware vendors market autonomous access points or even having one big access point. While that may be good for some uses, it’s not a good play if you want accurate Wi-Fi RTLS.
With centralized control, the access points can see each other and devices associated to the network. You can only locate devices and users with that level of visibility and control.
Location Engine Software
You’ll need software that will allow you input the building dimensions, floor plans, and can perform the calculations to locate the devices.
Some controller platforms have basic location engine software built in and some systems require an additional appliance.
So make sure you research that before you buy. Also, the level of complexity for location functions varies significantly from software to software….too much for me to explain in this article (so stay tuned).
To me, if you’re going to deploy wireless over a large area or in a campus environment, not using Wi-Fi RTLS is like going on a road trip with nothing but a paper map.
You could do it, but why not make your life easier and use your wireless infrastructure to deliver as many services as possible?
If you have any questions on wireless infrastructure or Wi-Fi RTLS for your organization, please contact us here.