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Indoor WiFi Location and Beacons: Better Together

wifibeaconIn just two years, indoor location technology has taken off and attracted a lot of buzz across industries, from retailers to healthcare. But it’s no longer a conversation about just Wi-Fi – the introduction of beacon devices, including iBeacon, has added a new dimension to location technology for IT and their line of business counterparts to grapple with on how to leverage it to better reach their customer base.

Some customers have been asking about beacon technology and how it fits in with Wi-Fi, so let’s start from the beginning:

How do beacons work?

Beacons are sensors that send out Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tracking tags.  These sensors can be placed around a venue, such as a store, and a mobile device can pick up the BLE signal and determine that it is in close proximity. When a mobile app is built off of this technology, it can be used in interesting ways to interact with the end user, such as notifying a customer of a promotion for an item they are close to.

I’m having trouble differentiating Wi-Fi and beacons. What do I need to know? Read More »

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In Case of Emergency, Location Accuracy Matters

emergencyGoing to NENA next week? Join us in Booth 515.

The ability to summon emergency assistance by using a phone to call 9-1-1 has been ingrained in our society for more than 40 years.  For a successful emergency response, it is critical that the responders receive accurate location information.  Traditional wired-line telephony is able to use the location of the physical wires as a source of information for caller location, whereas wireless technologies require more exotic mechanisms to locate a 9-1-1 caller.

Current trends expose risks in the emergency response system as we know it:

  • More and more 9-1-1 calls being made with mobile devices that are not mapped to a physical phone tied to a physical location in a venue.
  • Limited GPS location capability indoors can make it difficult to pinpoint the exact location of a 9-1-1 caller in a multistory building.

Accurate caller location within a building is vital for a timely response to an emergency. With more people using cell phones while indoors, the delays that can occur when emergency responders must rely on outdoor location technologies used inside a building are becoming all too common.  This challenge can be compounded in large buildings with many floors and many rooms on each floor.

TCS and Cisco meet this challenge by using the Wi-Fi network to make emergency response faster and more efficient with:

  • Seamlessly connection of the cellular and Wi-Fi location control planes, providing results within a few meters of accuracy
  • Visibility for accurate mobile 9-1-1 caller location with wireless location mapping specific to the venue

Next week, TCS and Cisco will be presenting this innovation solution at the National Emergency Number Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Come see how we’re disrupting the emergency response space at booth 515. Join us for one of our Buzz Sessions in the NENA Exhibit Hall:

  • Monday, 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Tuesday, 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

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Mobile Internet Applications in Rural Africa

By Molly Mattessich, Guest Columnist

In some ways, rural countries, including those in Africa, are ahead of the United States on technology. Without the infrastructure — offices, network lines, etc. — to use the Internet in more traditional ways, they have relied on cell phones to exchange information.

According to Cisco’s recent VNI Service Adoption Forecast (VNI-SA) research, mobile commerce ranks as the second-fastest-growing consumer mobile service, increasing at a 42.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) globally from 2011 to 2016. The Middle East and Africa will have the second-highest number of users in 2016, reaching 424 million.

Rural farmers in Africa, for example, now often use their cell phones to check commodity prices before heading to market, helping them improve their bottom line at times when a few cents can make a huge difference. Read More »

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Corny Technology: Welcome to Innovative Iowa

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

A couple of weeks ago I was in the bustling metropolis of Stanton, Iowa (population: 714), one of the most charming towns I have ever had the pleasure to visit. It is the home town of Mrs. Olson, the iconic figure in Folger’s Coffee commercials — which is why their water towers look so unique (see the photo insert below).

I was working with an independent telephone company client, one of about 1,300 in the U.S. — 250 of which are in Iowa. These independents are typically smaller phone companies, often family-owned, and almost always technologically-advanced.

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