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Accurate Location Starts with Accurate Data

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Co-Author Darryl Sladden

We recently wrote about the three elements required for more effective location based services—location accuracy, refresh rate and system latency. Today we’ll take a close look at the first of those elements—location accuracy.

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As with any type of computing, the quality of the output is directly related to the quality of the input. There are several factors that influence the precision of the location data.  Here are several factors in order of importance that influence the quality of location:

  1. AP Density—The number of installed access points in the venue are the biggest contributor to location data quality. It makes sense. More access points means more points of reference, fewer dead spots, and greater capacity to track devices. However, there is a point of diminishing returns after which additional APs are not helpful. If this is the case in your network, you can move these APs into monitor mode.
  2. AP Placement—Closely following AP density, the placement of those access points has a huge impact on location data quality. Placement should start at the perimeter of the space then move inward. Placement should be as non-linear as possible yet avoid dead spots caused by elevator shafts, large open atriums, and wiring closets. During set up, it’s best to define these areas as exclusion zones as one can safely assume that no one will or should be moving through elevator shafts, wiring closets or the second floor of an open, three-story atrium.
    • It’s also important that access points be placed as close to their mapped location as possible. At a minimum, they should be placed on the correct floor. Ideally, they should be within three feet or less of their actual location and their correct heights and antenna orientation should be recorded in PI
  3. RSSI Signal— The density and placement of the access points should enable the RSSI signal to be stronger than -75dbm by four APs throughout the entire venue.
  4. Chirps and Probes—While the wireless network has the greatest influence on location accuracy, the signal intervals of RF tags and mobile devices also impacts accuracy. For the greatest accuracy, RF ID tags should be set to chirp on all three channels—1, 6, and 11—every 30 seconds.
  5. Multi-floor deployment – In a venue with multiple floors, access points should be aligned along a common vertical axis. Third floor directly above the second floor access point, and so on.
  6. Tracking mobile devices – Locating mobile devices is more challenging. Generally, device manufacturers set probe rates at intervals of 90 seconds or more to save battery life. Reducing the probe rate can profoundly reduce battery life. In addition, many mobile devices randomize their MAC address, making it nearly impossible to get a consistent location fix. The best way to ensure that mobile devices gets good consistent location is to have them associated with the network, sending traffic and utilizing Cisco Fastlocate capabilities of the network.
  7. Zones—You can improve location data accuracy by defining zones within the venue. The general rule of thumb is to define a zone that is twice the size as your desired level of accuracy. Need accuracy to within ten meters? Then make the zone no larger than 20 meters by 20 meters. The zone size should also take into account the average probe rates of your typical clients and their associated user move rate.
  8. Calibration—Location accuracy can be calibrated. While it is a time-consuming process, it can result in the highest degree of accuracy. Essentially, the calibration process involves placing a mobile device in a known location using its probe to validate the location.

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802.11ac Wave 2 is a Game Changing Technology for the Wired Network

The WiFi industries latest standard—802.11ac wave 2—is now upon us.  This version of WiFi smashes the Gigabit barrier and promises to raise the performance of wireless network to levels never seen before.  802.11ac wave 2 is ideally suited to meet the new demands created by the influx of wirelessly connected devices being brought into businesses at an unprecedented rate.  Make no mistake, for most workers today, the wireless network is not just an alternative way to connect.  Rather, it has become the primary access network for most businesses and is creating new experiences and new ways of engaging customers and workers.

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There’s another aspect of this WiFi version that is unique, wave 2 is the first WiFi standard that will dictate the architecture of the wired network.  Prior to wave 2, the wired network had always outperformed wireless so business could deploy WiFi without much impact to the wired network.  With wave 2, the wireless network will have as good—or better—performance than wired switches.  Now businesses can enable more devices per user, such as stream 4K video over WiFi, and be assured their Internet of Things deployments go smoothly. Read More »

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Going Beyond Wireless: Mobility at Cisco Live San Diego

Hello from sunny San Diego! We are in full swing here at Cisco Live US with 25,000 attendees from our Cisco community of customers and partners, showcasing how we are enabling the digital economy today and well into the future.

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Chances are that if you know anything about Cisco, you know we’re the networking leader and a major player in the wireless world. But did you know that beyond wireless networking, Cisco has mobility solutions for every step of the mobile journey – from wireless infrastructure to personalized end user experiences? In fact, Mobility is leading the way as we all leap into the digital era and changing the way we live, play, work, and learn.

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If you are at Cisco Live this week, I hope you had a chance to get a glimpse of how Cisco Mobility solutions can transform your workstyles and lifestyles. At the Future of the Network – Innovation Talk, you may have seen how mobility transforms customer and workforce experiences, as well as provides powerful insights to organizations to make smarter and decisions. A fun demo that involved the audience Read More »

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Wildau University Utilizes Cisco Wi-Fi Technology

Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau understands that with the proliferation of wireless devices, learning is no longer relegated strictly to the classroom.  The German university wanted to equip its students with the ability to access their education resources anywhere and at any time. To provide this service, the University needed a secure environment for data, voice, voice over IP and video conferencing—and it wanted it to be unique from Germany’s 240 other universities of applied sciences.

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Cisco outfitted the school with 802.11ac-based WiFi access points—enhanced with Cisco CleanAir Technology and the Cisco High Density Experience—in various spots around the campus. This allowed for the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau the ability to provide interference-free and exceptional WiFi for their students and faculty for the first time. Read More »

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Preparing for the next wave of Mobility at Cisco Live

It is that time of year again where we kick off another Cisco Live, our 26th show happening in San Diego this year. Much like the Cisco events of the past, the evolution of wireless technology and solutions have come a long way.  In the late 1990’s, Wi-Fi was a novelty or a toy that we used infrequently, turning to Ethernet connectivity when we needed reliable bandwidth. The first 802.11 Wi-Fi standard, ratified in 1997, offered limited bandwidth support which was barely enough for basic connectivity and seldom reliable.  Flash forward to last week, where we announced our first Access Point to support the latest Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac Wave 2, the Aironet 1850 Series Access Point.

Aironet 1850 Series Access Points

The introduction of 802.11ac Wave 2 is significant from a technology standpoint because it marks the first time that Wi-Fi has the throughput ability to move beyond the 1Gps barrier. The significance in not only because this is a nice large number but as the adoption of Wave 2 devices grows, Wi-Fi bandwidth will exceed the capacity of the wired infrastructure.   Read More »

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