Adding a New Dimension to Your Data: Location Services
Having been a Flight Officer in the Navy, one of my core duties was navigation. Position was everything, especially in the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, or in the tight spaces of the Persian Gulf. In the beginning, it was all about using our Inertial Nav System (INS). A box with gyros that used inertia to determine position. Then we received hand-held Garmin GPS units as a test squadron, and nav was reinvented. At that time, our GPS used the military system, and we had pinpoint accuracy at any point in time, and we used it with all our other systems to maintain navigation accuracy.
Now here we are in 2015. Everyone has a GPS in the palm of their hand, or in their back pocket, and positional data is available at any time. The modern GPS chipsets utilize not only GPS technology, but also leverage the wi-fi hotspots and cellular networks triangulation to get down to under 10m in accuracy (in many cases under 3m, see this cool test here: GPS Device Accuracy). In the past, if a business wanted geo-data for any type of purpose, they needed to invest in an expensive infrastructure of hardware devices and software, and the capability would only be given to a handful of people as it was cost prohibitive to make it pervasive.
Along with the pervasive hardware today, Business Process Application (BPA) platforms now provide “location services” to surface GPS/location data in their forms from just about any device type. What type of information is available? Latitude, longitude, altitude, accuracy estimates, position time stamp and position age. So what are some use cases, and how can this all be leveraged? See below for some industry ideas:
Oil, Gas and Natural Resources – obviously, and organization with field-based assets can leverage positional technology. Take a field technician working on a well, where his positional information is reported back to a supervisor and mapped. Maybe a mining company doing an asset inventory across all their mines, and creating a real-time database of equipment position.
Government – there is a great opportunity for just about any level of government to leverage this technology, whether it is a city allowing citizens to report potholes, or a county assessor surveying property, with positional information at their disposal, services can be accelerated.
Law Enforcement and Fire – imagine a fire fighter that could walk the line of a forest fire, and report back real-time to the command center. Maybe a disaster recovery effort where just mobile phones can be utilized to crowd source information.
Construction – with all employees on site armed with positional information, management can get real-time information on progress of jobs, location of assets, and automatic location reporting of safety incidents.
So how can a BPA platform utilize this information? See below:
Geo-enabled Digital Forms – forms are for data collection, and with location services enabled, positional information can be transferred with any form submission. This data can be stored, and used for trend analysis, mapping or decision-making all based on location.
Real Time Decisions – with smartform technology, dynamic form decisions can be made based on location information. Maybe the currency on a form is auto-adjusted based on the location, or available options in a drop down list are adjusted based on position.
Workflow and Branching – when a form is utilized to initiate a digital business process, that information is now carried through the process, and work can be routed based on location. How about a workflow that routes to an appropriate service manager based on region?
Reporting – With a location dimension now enabled, organizations can now use mapping for trending and analysis. This data dimension can be compiled without any further information entry from end users, and can just become part of any submission.
Just some thoughts…more to come on the topic.