What is Geo-Fencing?
Geo-fencing is a service that triggers an action when a device enters a set location. Geo-fencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, known as a geofence.
Depending on how a geofence is configured it can prompt mobile push notifications, trigger text messages or alerts, send targeted advertisements on social media, allow tracking on vehicle fleets, disable certain technology or deliver location-based marketing data
Standard Operating Procedure issued by DoT:
- The Centre is using powers under the Indian Telegraph Act to “fetch information” from telecom companies every 15 minutes to track COVID-19 cases across the country.
- The government has tested an application that triggers e-mails and SMS alerts to an authorised government agency if a person has jumped quarantine or escaped from isolation, based on the person’s mobile phone’s cell tower location.
- The “geo-fencing” is accurate by up to 300 m.
- The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) shared a standard operating procedure (SOP) with all telecom service providers regarding the application called COVID-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS).
- The system will collate phone data, including the device’s location, on a common secured platform and alert the local agencies in case of a violation by COVID patients under watch or in isolation.
- The States have been asked to seek the approval of their Home Secretaries under the provisions of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, for the specified mobile phone numbers to request the DoT to provide information by email or SMS in case of violation of “geo-fencing”.The particular provision under the Act, amended multiple times since 1885, authorises State or Centre to access information of a user’s phone data in case of “occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of the public safety.
- The CQAS will prepare a list of mobile numbers, segregating them on the basis of telecom service providers, and the location data provided by the companies will be run on the application to create geo-fencing
- The SOP said that geo-fencing will only work if the quarantined person has a mobile phone from Airtel, Vodafone-Idea or Reliance Jio, as “BSNL/MTNL” do not support location based services.
Applications of Geo-Fencing:
- Social networking: One of the most recognizable uses for geofencing comes in the form of popular social networking apps — most notably, Snapchat. Location-based filters, stickers and other shareable content are all made possible with geofencing. Whether you’re using a promoted filter at a concert, using a custom-made filter for a friend’s birthday or uploading to public, location-based stories, it’s all thanks to these virtual perimeters.
- Marketing: Besides social networking, geofencing is also a popular way for businesses to deliver in-store promotions, alerting you right as you step in range of the store. Geofencing also helps businesses target ads to a specific audience to figure out what strategies work best based off user’s location-data.
- Audience engagement: Geofencing is used to engage crowds of people at organized events, like concerts, festivals, fairs and more. For example, a concert venue might use a geofence to crowdsource social media posts or deliver information about the venue or event.
- Smart appliances: As more of our appliances get “smart,” with Bluetooth capabilities, it’s easier than ever to program your fridge to remind you that you’re out of milk the next time you pass by the grocery store. Or you can make sure the thermostat is set to the perfect temperature when you get home from work by using a geofence.
- Human resources: Some companies rely on geofencing for monitoring employees, especially workers who spend time off-site doing field work. It’s also an easy way to automate time cards, clocking employees in and out as they come and go.
- Telematics: Geofencing can also be helpful with telematics, allowing companies to draw virtual zones around sites, work areas and secure areas. They can be triggered by a vehicle or a person and send alerts or warnings to the operator.
- Security: Geofencing might seem invasive — and it certainly has the potential to sometimes feel like an overreach depending on how it’s used. However, geofencing can also be used to bring more security to your mobile device. For example, you can set your phone to unlock when you’re home using a geofence or to get alerts when someone enters the house or leaves.