What Is Geofencing and How Does It Work

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Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or leaves a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, called a GEO fence.

Depending on how a GEO fence is set up, it can send push notifications to mobile devices, send text messages or alerts, send targeted ads on social media, let you track vehicle fleets, turn off certain technologies, or send location-based marketing data.

Some GEO-Fences are set up to watch what’s going on in secure areas. This lets the people in charge know when someone enters or leaves a certain area. Businesses can also use geofencing to keep track of company property and keep an eye on employees who are out in the field.

How to Use GEO-Fencing

In order to use geofencing, a software administrator or developer must first set up a virtual fence around a certain location using GPS or RFID. 

This can be as easy as drawing a circle 100 feet in diameter around a place on Google Maps, as specified by APIs when making a mobile app. When an authorized device enters or leaves this area, the administrator or developer can set this virtual geofence to do something.

Most of the time, a geofence is set up in the code of a mobile app, since users have to choose to use location services for the geofence to work. 

If you go to a concert hall, you might be able to download an app that gives you information about the show. 

Or, a store could set up a geofence around its stores to send alerts to customers who have downloaded the store’s app. In these cases, the app is set up with a geofence that is managed by the store, and users can choose not to give the app access to their location.

End users can also set up a geofence by using the geofencing features of their mobile apps. With these apps, like iOS Reminders, you can choose an address or location where you want an alert or push notification to happen. 

This is called a “if this, then that” command, which tells an app to do something based on something else. For example, “Turn on my lights if I’m five feet from my front door.” Or, you could ask a reminder app to send you a message when you get to a certain place.

Geofencing isn’t just for mobile apps; it’s also used to control and track vehicles in the shipping industry, cattle in the agriculture industry, and you’ll hear people talk about it when they talk about drones. 

Geofences are usually set up around airports, open-air venues, and even the White House. Nearly every drone is already set up to work with geofences. 

On request, the FAA can set up geofences that drones can’t fly through. Some of these barriers will stop a drone in the air, while others will send a warning message to the user. 

So that law enforcement can keep track of unmanned drones, some drone geofences will ask users for permission. This is done by linking the user’s identity to their drone.

How to Use Geofence Alerts with GPS Tracking

The ability to construct geofences with triggered alerts is one of a GPS monitoring system’s more sophisticated (and frequently underused) functions.

  • You can set boundaries on a map to create geofences with a GPS tracker. They may be any form you make up of numerous points or a certain radius around a single point. 
  • You can set up geofences around any place you wish to keep an eye on, including client sites, staff residences, your own office campus, and neighborhoods you want to stay away from. 
  • You can monitor activity more passively using triggered notifications. 
  • You can choose to just get alerts once a geofence is crossed rather than continually monitoring the real-time map. 
  • You can also observe earlier activity at any time after it has occurred by using geofences with timestamps. If you are looking for GPS trackers with GEOfencing, SEEWORLDGPS will help.

Applications for GEO Fencing

Geofencing has become a common way for many businesses to do business as the use of mobile devices grows. Once a geographic area is defined, companies have what seems like a lot of options for what they can do. This is especially common in marketing and social media.

Some stores and restaurants will set up geofences around their competitors so that when you get close to the boundary, you’ll get a push notification telling you to go to the other place. Or, when you walk into a store, a coupon might be sent to your phone. If you get a grocery store app, it will probably notice when you drive by and send you a message to get you to stop.

Here are a few other common uses of geofencing:

Social networking

Popular social networking apps, especially Snapchat, use geofencing in a way that is easy to recognize. Geofencing makes it possible to use location-based filters, stickers, and other content that can be shared. 

Thanks to these virtual boundaries, you can use a promoted filter at a concert, a custom-made filter for a friend’s birthday, or upload to public, location-based stories.

Marketing

Along with social networking, geofencing is a popular way for businesses to let you know about deals in-store as soon as you get close enough. 

Based on a user’s location data, geofencing also lets businesses show ads to a specific group of people to find out what strategies work best.

Geofencing is used to keep large groups of people interested at concerts, festivals, fairs, and other organized events. A concert venue, for example, could use a geofence to get social media posts from the crowd or send information about the venue or event.

Smart appliances

As more of our appliances become “smart” and add Bluetooth, it’s easier than ever to tell your fridge to remind you that you’re out of milk the next time you go to the store. 

Or, you can use a geofence to make sure the thermostat is at the right setting when you get home from work.

Human resources

Some companies use geofencing to keep track of their employees, especially those who do field work away from the office. It’s also easy to set up so that employees can clock in and out as they come and go.

Telematics

Geofencing can also help with telematics because it lets companies create virtual zones around sites, work areas, and secure areas. They can be set off by a person or a vehicle and send alerts or warnings to the person in charge.

Security

Geofencing might seem intrusive, and depending on how it’s used, it can sometimes feel like an overreach. But geofencing can also be used to make your mobile device more secure. 

For example, you can use a geofence to set your phone to unlock when you get home or to get alerts when someone comes or goes from your house.

What’s Next for Geofencing

There are a few things to watch out for with geofencing, especially when it comes to marketing and privacy. Last year, Massachusetts was one of the first states to pass a law to protect consumers that said location-based advertising was not okay.

Copley Advertising was hired by a Christian group to set up a geofence around women’s health clinics so that anti-abortion ads could be shown to women in the waiting room or nearby. The Attorney General stopped this.

But it doesn’t look like geofencing will lose its popularity any time soon, even though there are concerns about security. 

The geofencing industry is expected to grow by more than 27% by 2022, according to a press release from MarketsandMarkets. 

The release cites “technological advances in the use of spatial data and increasing applications in a wide range of industry verticals” as reasons for this growth.

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