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This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson Independent Senior Research Associate at Memoori.

With the advent of IoT platforms, advanced sensors and improvements in network connectivity, there are an increasing number of companies offering Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS) and Location Based Services (LBS) for various applications in commercial and industrial buildings.

In-building location-based services can enable one or more of the following:

  • Optimize spatial efficiency
  • Improve the location-based experience of building users
  • Enable real time and proximity location analytics to optimize building and operational performance
  • Track and monitor the movement of assets
  • Extend access control for sensitive areas
  • Find people such as lone workers or in emergency evacuations

Drivers for implementing location-based systems and services vary according to building type and vertical market orientation. The most important driver for the retail sector is attracting new customers through proximity marketing and targeted sales initiatives while the healthcare sector is likely to be most focused on making their facilities easier to navigate for patients, staff or visitors through wayfinding applications and monitoring specialized assets such as mobile medical equipment.

Owners and operators of large office buildings are currently driven by the need to maximize space optimization and understand real-time occupancy, while tenants in these facilities are focused on improving employee engagement, productivity and occupant satisfaction in the evolving workplace.

Consequently, solutions need to be carefully tailored according to their intended use in specific vertical markets. Recent initiatives in indoor location, mapping and positioning ecosystems illustrate the role of startups and demonstrate the significance of the main players establishing relationships with other stakeholders outside their domain of expertise to deliver unified intelligent building solutions.

Verticalized startups with deep insight into niche applications in specific building types can play a major role in BIoT, as discussed in a previous Memoori article. “Verticalized IoT startups – those attacking a specific industry vertical with an offering tailored to their unique requirements – will power the next wave of our industry’s evolution,” says San Francisco based entrepreneur and investor Nate Williams.

Established players in the connected lighting, building automation and ICT sectors are seeking alliances with startup companies and specialist providers to implement successful solutions and achieve the full potential of intelligent buildings.

Location based service providers include companies which offer indoor mapping platforms, app developers, specialist providers of Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) and Indoor Positioning Systems and systems integrators.

Recent vertically focused alliances include:

Airports

LocusLabs has joined the Atrius IoT partner ecosystem of Acuity Brands. Acuity Brands augmented its connected lighting and Atrius indoor positioning services portfolio with the indoor mapping platform from LocusLabs. The San Francisco based startup launched its location-as-a-service platform in late 2015 addressing the airports market, with wayfinding apps for passengers at over 70 airports worldwide to date.

Offices

Schneider Electric, workplace efficiency providers for “Les Dunes”, Société Générale’s headquarters office in Paris, has partnered with Visioglobe for the indoor map and navigation, Cardiweb application provider and Pole Star for the indoor positioning system.

Siemens Building Technologies is developing its LBS offering in close cooperation with infsoft, a German indoor positioning specialist. Insights into the use of a building, such as when and where users enter and leave a building, which areas are the most frequented and how much time is spent there, can be correlated with building technology, energy consumption, space utilization and even with the planning of new buildings.

Senion announced in August 2017 that its StepInside Indoor Positioning System (IPS) has been deployed in the 500,000 square foot Kista (Stockholm) headquarters of telecom leader Ericsson. This office solution is designed by Senion’s startup partner, Flowscape, that has pre-integrated StepInside into its indoor mapping platform designed for activity-based working environments.

Retail

Philips Lighting established its Location Lab partner program in Feb 2017 to enable collaboration with start-ups to explore novel uses of the Philips’ indoor positioning system.

The ecosystem is focused on applications for shopper convenience and staff efficiency in the retail sector. Partners include location analytics company, Aisle411 and location based service software providers such as Favendo, Adactive, Vipera, Nakko and Mapiq.

Healthcare

Healthcare ICT provider, Ascom and Sonitor partnered in Sep 2017 to announce the integration of Sonitor’s Real Time Location System with Ascom’s Unite Connect for RTLS, creating a solution set to impact clinical workflow improvements. The integrated solution is configurable to support a variety of RTLS applications including staff duress, asset management and nurse call presence for Ascom’s Telligence nurse call system.

The partnerships mentioned in this article are indicative of ongoing LBS initiatives for a range of vertical markets but these are only a fraction of the complex web of relationships being developed by the major BIoT providers. Selecting the right set of partners will be crucial to deliver on the promise of end-to-end solutions.

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