With the deployment of smartphones, geolocation has become indispensable to most of our daily tasks. Location-based applications help us navigate in unknown places, avoid traffic jams, track our lost or stolen iPhones or even meet a romantic partner nearby. And the list goes on.

We are all hooked to these myriad of real time services.
But why geolocation matters to the healthcare industry and how does it operate?


What is geolocation?

Geolocation refers to any technology that can identify the location of a person or an object in real time. The geolocation features can be either embedded in the asset, like GPS tracker of smartphones or powered by the Internet of Things (IoT). 


What brings geolocation and real-time asset tracking to healthcare?

In the healthcare industry, real time asset tracking has rapidly switched from nice-to-have to essential, improving logistics and supply chain management as well as human resources management. When a medical device is equipped with a chip and connected to a platform, real time asset tracking enables hospitals and asset providers to:

  1. Precisely locate the medical device in question
  2. Determine true usage and turn rate
  3. Ensure best working conditions for healthcare professionals
  4. Anticipe maintenance and prevent expensive repairs


How IoT is changing geolocation services?

Different geolocation technologies exist, the most popular ones being GPS, WI-FI and bluetooth. Each comes with its unique characteristics and advantages.

  • GPS : global positioning system is one of the most renowned technologies. It uses signals emitted by satellites and read by GPS devices to determine a location. Its avantages are accuracy and availability of the technology everywhere on the earth. The downside of GPS is that it is quite an energy-using technology.
  • WIFI : WiFi location solutions connect Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as smartphones and tracking tags with hotspots and wireless access points using a specific radio frequency. WiFi is ubiquitous. It is particularly effective for indoor positioning and has a low energy usage (1/10th of GPS). However, it is said to be less accurate than other RTLS
  • Bluetooth low energy (BLE) is a real time location system (RTLS) mainly designed for communicating over short distances and finds its best application in indoor positioning. When infrastructures are equipped with BLE beacons, devices within the emission area can then detect the signals. The benefits of using Bluetooth include its low cost and high energy efficiency.


Now, how IoT is bringing geolocation to the next level?

With billions of connected devices being used every day and IoT platforms being deployed everywhere, smart devices can talk to each other and send messages without the need of extra infrastructure. This is what Sigfox and other IoT providers are promising, using their proprietary network while being both cost-efficient and minimizing energy consumption.

The cherry on the cake, combining technologies to ensure continuity in location capability, indoor and outdoor and maximizing location accuracy. The partnership between HERE Technologies and Sigfox opens up new doors to asset tracking by capitalizing on both HERE Technologies Wifi hotspots and Sigfox network location service.

The next most important thing is data quality…to turn the tons of location data into valuable insights… a kind of location-based dating app pushing only romantic partners with strong affinities.