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It’s all about Location, Location, Location

April 17, 2024 by Chris Allcard

When users raise alarms on lone worker safety devices, to get help to that user, an accurate and current location position is required quickly. Traditionally, location information was largely driven by users leaving this information verbally on the backend systems. Over time, locating technologies have developed and the accuracy of those technologies have developed. Most lone worker safety devices in use today rely solely on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

You may be surprised, however, at how often safety devices that ONLY use GPS technology can be rendered ineffective because they cannot get an accurate real time location.

This is not a criticism of GPS technology, which has become established as the go-to navigation technology we are all familiar with. GPS works by communicating with satellites that orbit the Earth. Locations obtained via GPS technology can be accurate down to 5m.

Unfortunately, in order to generate accurate location positions, GPS needs to have line of sight to a minimum of four satellites. As such, the limitations of GPS technology become apparent in built up areas, when indoors or under trees, etc where line of sight is not possible. In these scenarios there can be delays as the device attempts to communicate with the satellites to generate a latest position, and either fails (and typically sends a ’last known’ location which in itself could be wildly inaccurate) or generates an inaccurate location position that could be 30m plus away from where the user and device actually are.

Whether it’s a community-based NHS nurse, a social worker, an enforcement officer or anyone else that works on their own, when an alarm is activated accurate current location verification needs to happen quickly. Whether that user is indoors or outdoors.

For the latest generation of Reliance Protect lone worker safety devices, locating the location of the wearer quickly has been our primary objective. It’s why we developed and incorporated dual location positioning technologies, utilising both GPS technology and Wi-Fi, similar to how smartphones work.

GPS is the best technology to identify a user’s location when they are outside, and Wifi is the best technology to identify a user’s location when indoors. Furthermore, by having the ability to switch quickly from GPS to Wifi, we minimise the time the devices spend struggling to communicate with the satellites to try and generate a GPS location. So, our latest generation of personal safety devices generate more accurate location information, and send it quicker, regardless of whether that device is indoors or outdoors.

Our latest generation ID Ultra and Pulse+ lone worker safety devices scan and read Wi-Fi networks and wireless access points and send this information into Google location servers, which then respond with a location. The more Wi-Fi networks and access points these devices can see, the better their location accuracy – so in urban environments they are often far more effective than GPS.

Since we launched the ID Ultra and Pulse+, we can clearly see the benefits the dual location positioning technologies deliver. Around 20% of locations received into our BS 5979 Category II Alarm Receiving Centre by these devices when alarms are raised, are generated via Wifi. That’s 1 in 5 alarms that traditional lone worker safety devices would struggle to generate via GPS alone.

Having up to date, accurate, real time location information of field-based staff who are at risk of danger, aggression or hazards in their working environments, is crucial to help manage those risks.  Reliance Protect’s secure, online customer portal Focus enables quick access to this real time location information as well as device status information such as battery charge level and mobile phone signal strength.

Reliance Protect has been protecting lone workers and safeguarding organisations since 2006, making the company one of the most established and trusted solution providers in the UK. Every second counts and dual location positioning technology is a genuine game-changer in the world of lone worker safety devices.