Blog skyhook logo Location Data: IoT Applications and Benefits

Oct 10, 2019 11:24:18 AM

Location Data: IoT Applications and Benefits

Posted by Skyhook

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This post originally appeared on IoT for All. 

Accurate and precise location data is the foundation of numerous IoT applications. Understanding the end-to-end nuances of your use case is a crucial first step.

Location, location, location. You’ve heard the phrase before. Location has always been important to businesses. It’s a vital piece of intel that informs a range of questions. Where should I open my next location? Where should I market my products? How can I develop lasting bonds with my customers as they move through their everyday lives?

Why Location Matters Now More Than Ever
Although location has always been an important metric for informing business decisions, the modern world has created a need for something new: radical granularity at a massive scale. The data revolution has made it both possible and necessary to make business decisions based on hard data. Business leaders can no longer afford to guess how customers experience the business’s brand and services.

Stakeholders need to know that you are relying on more than intuition and experience. They want to know that you’re a data-driven expert on your customers. Being knowledgeable in modern business means untangling a mess of digital and physical assets, processes, and operations, to generate actionable insight.

Location data is how many modern businesses make sense of their processes, their products and/or services, and how people interact with all of the above. It enables businesses to track assets across oceanic black holes. It allows them to map customer journeys seamlessly. It is the tool they use to optimize the routes of swarms of vehicles weaving through smart cities. The tricky part is understanding your specific business goals and leveraging the right kind of location data technology for the task.

Optimizing The Supply Chain Scientifically

You no longer need excel sheets or manual databases to manage supply chains. It’s unnecessary because Internet of Things (IoT) solutions providers are able to create scalable asset tracking systems that obviate the need for people doing the majority of menial supply chain tasks. Operators can now track each individual asset in a supply chain while visualizing at scale how all assets are moving collectively through the world.

Asset tracking IoT solutions have been a rising trend in supply chain management for one reason: they work. Imagine this: on Mother’s Day, American consumers spend about $2.6 billion on flowers. How do producers and suppliers ensure that the flowers you give to your mother are reliably beautiful while also turning a profit?

Example: The flower industry cold supply chain is complicated and relies heavily on everything going smoothly. Flowers are often grown in places like Colombia and then have to travel by plane to the United States, go through customs, and then get sent to a refrigerated warehouse before even reaching a flower shop, grocery store, or the end consumer. This process leaves a lot of room for error since flowers are so delicate and rely on being at the right temperature at all times.

There’s a staggering 40 percent waste margin in the industry and according to David Bairstow, SVP of Product at Skyhook, “If introducing IoT into the cold supply chain leads to decrease in waste by even 10 percent, that would result in more than $100 million of savings.”

Knowing where expensive flower shipments are at all times, what temperatures they’re experiencing in transit, and whether they’ll arrive at a loved one on time, are all critical to the industry. And location-driven IoTi.e. asset tracking—is the most promising avenue for optimizing supply chain logistics thereby amplifying ROI for industry stakeholders and passing on savings to you when next Mother’s Day rolls around.

Location Data Powers Your Wearables

Wearables make substantial use of location data. Although you may not think of wearing a camera as a common example, the Swedish company Narrative makes a wearable camera the size of a tortilla chip that geotags your photographic memories in real time and serves them to you on your iPhone. Pinpointing the location of each “memory” or photo surely isn’t easy; it requires a location tracking technology that can transmit data reliably in a range of environments.

Smart wearables aren’t just handy gadgets; they can also save lives. Consider Athena’s “ROAR” product: a small beacon that enables women to broadcast their location frictionlessly via SMS to preselected contacts when they feel threatened. Accurate and precise location data enable emergency services and loved ones to find the distressed user when seconds count. Or consider the Philips LifeLine GoSafe: a mobile personal response system (MPRS) marketed primarily to senior citizens and people with disabilities who may need to notify others of an emergency like a fall.

“Accurate location information is of critical value to ensuring the quick dispatch, arrival and delivery of what is often life-saving assistance,” said Rob Goudswaard, senior director, Global Product and Service Programs, for Philips Home Monitoring.

Whether it’s a camera, a ROAR beacon, or a new Apple Watch, modern wearables need to synthesize location data from several sources such as GPS, WiFi, cellular, and Bluetooth. The numerous services emerging through wearables depend upon accurate and precise location data.  And when the difference between life and death comes down to heart-pounding seconds, medical professionals, security personnel, and loved ones need to know exactly where you are.  

A Global Solution For Freight Logistics

Trevor Willingham writes for that location data from connected assets “reveals what is, versus what was planned or anticipated.” Until assets actually move through logistical chains, everything is hypothetical and uncertain. Logistics operators need to see what’s really going on in real time.

Consider how location data drives Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future program, which features fully-autonomous haul trucks. With 69 autonomous haulers roving the mines and roads constantly, granular insight into how materials and trucks move through logistics chains in real time is vital. From mission control, Tinto’s operators have deep insight into where the company’s assets are, limiting everything from supply chain blockages to insurance liability. And their IoT solution works. It reportedly saves the company $2 million per day($790 million annually) while removing Tinto’s workers from the most lethal mining tasks. Accurate and precise location data is the foundation of Tinto’s solution.

Location-driven IoT solutions are also transforming and optimizing the freight industry. According to freight giant Maersk, “everything that can be digitized will be digitized.” That digital revolution in shipping is manifesting in two big ways: reducing human error and mitigating liability.

1) Human Error: Sameer Agrawal, VP of Supply Chain Solutions at Honeywell SPS, said that in working on IoT solutions with Intel they discovered that many freight pallets lost in transit come down to simple human error. Moreover, often drivers misreport or make mistakes in their delivery timing, which irritates customers and causes blockages in down-the-line supply chains. An RFID device attached to each pallet could easily alert freight managers of issues as they arise, and a centralized GPS dashboard could feasibly alert downstream customers of potential hold-ups in freight lines.

2) Liability Mitigation: Reliable location data wrapped into a full logistics IoT solution will optimize the insurance claims processes, giving insurers peace of mind and thereby lowering premiums for operators. IoT solutions in other verticals have already helped insurance providers save customers 25% on premiums. One reason for the reduction in costs is that implementing location capabilities into the hardware insurance companies use allows customers to have “pay as you go” insurance based on the actual distance traveled. Moreover, the hardware can capture other information about the safety of the car or signs of an accident based on the error codes the car reports to the IoT hardware. And while the lower premiums are certainly compelling, more important still is the reason insurers are reducing premiums: IoT solutions that allow granular and scalable asset management reliably reduce risk to assets, profit margins, human lives alike.

Pinpointing Growth

Businesses are now leveraging location data to increase ROI, enhance customer experiences, and optimize man-hours across several verticals from retail to freight logistics. In a world increasingly overstuffed with data and metadata, it’s vital to ensure the precision and accuracy of one data point before all: location. To learn how to implement data into your business, watch our webinar on how to gather and utilize location data to achieve business objectives.

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