Where Are Building Owners?
While all of this takes place inside buildings and has the potential to provide valuable data to building owners it is not the traditional building control system manufacturers, building operators or facility managers, that are driving the IPS deployments. Without building owners' involvement something is likely to be lost in this approach, as several beneficial applications of IPS can be used to improve building operations. For example, one of the key metrics for building management is data on how occupants are using building spaces. That may include when and where building occupants enter and exit the building, what building spaces occupants inhabit, what time or day they occupy the spaces, and duration of occupancy. Such data can be used to optimize building operations, correlating the occupant data to building systems, energy consumption, space utilization, and even utilizing the data for renovations of existing buildings or design of new buildings. IPS could also be part of addressing life safety events, for example, locating people for safety or security purposes. With facility management organizations just starting to wade into the world of data analytics, IPS is posed to provide data on a building on a level that hasn't existed in the past and will enrich the analytics of building operations.
IPS technology can be used for almost any size building but appears to be particularly well-suited for large commercial buildings, educational campuses, malls, airports and guided tours of museums. If you think IPS is pie-in-the-sky and way off in the future, think again:
Google launched their Indoor Maps and Indoor Location in late 2011. They already have over 10,000 floor plans for a variety of buildings in North America, Europe and Japan, and claim 5-10m accuracy inside these buildings. Some of the mapped clients include IKEA, MGM Resorts, Mission College, Mall of America, Macy's, Home Depot, and Bloomingdales. (See http://maps.google.com/help/maps/indoormaps/).
b Walgreens has a partnership with a startup named aisle411. Any Walgreen shopper using a smartphone can view maps of any of 8,000 Wal- green stores and locate products down to the section of an aisle.
b Zonith has an IPS offering also using Bluetooth beaconing, while targeting a different market focusing on security, safety, and situational awareness applications. They have an application call Lone Worker, which focuses on large utilities, production plants and commercial buildings that can locate lone workers and keep track of employees for safety purposes.
Some of the applications involve real time location of personnel such as doctors, supervisors, technicians, or tracking team members, as well as assets on missions in dark or crowded locations. Some companies have also used IPS to identify occupancy and adjust energy management systems based on where people are gathered.
Many museums around the world are now interacting with visitors and patrons by acquiring data on their behavior and providing way-finding applications for smartphones. The technology systems utilized include indoor positioning and eye tracking systems. One example of an IPS and eye tracking trial deployment is at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. They have installed beacon technology to develop metrics on how many people go to a specific exhibition, how long they stay and an eye tracking system to determine what people look at and how long they gaze. Based on the data developed, the museum then adjusts exhibits, spaces, schedules, and donor outreach. In many ways it is an approach similar to many retailers and malls; tracking the behavior of their customers to enhanced the relationship between the patrons and the museum. What's happening at the Guggenheim Museum is similar to other museums in the US and around the world.