When it comes to large spaces that could effectively house multiple networks of proximity services using Beacons and a wide-variety of Apps, the best approach may be a Hybrid Beacon Network.
Beacons or iBeacons are effectively a low energy Bluetooth 4 transmitter; many draw analogous references to a lighthouse when describing the action of a Beacon. Although Beacons are becoming smarter with increased features and functionality, one feature of the standard Apple iBeacon protocol is the constant transmission of its UUID, major and minor values.
This is both a benefit and a potential curse! Any App programmed with a Beacon’s UUID, major and minor value can be triggered by that Beacon. With potentially billions of possible combinations of UUID and major and minor values, this shouldn’t be a problem, other than if you program your App to incorporate some known Beacon UUIDs your App can be triggered by those Beacons.
There are many public spaces where it makes common sense to roll out one Beacon Network infrastructure and have multiple Apps use the Beacon’s signal to interact with each App in different ways.
Imagine the case of an airport when the terminal space is normally owned by the Airport Operator and the airlines lease the terminal space to operate their business. One Beacon Network owned, operated and managed by the Airport Operator could be implemented in the common areas with all parties benefiting.
Therefore with only a couple of Beacons above the securing entrance, the Airlines can trigger passengers boarding passes stored electronically on their phones, the security company can monitor queue length and dwell times for operating effectiveness and the Airport Operator can count the number of passengers and visitors.
Shopping Centres are similar, usually the Mall operator wishes to control the common use spaces and the Tenants want control over what happens in their tenancies. Imagine the chaos and the extremely poor customer experience if the Centre and each of the Tenants was doing their own implementation of Beacons, the poor customer would receive so many messages; all Apps would probably be deleted by the Consumer after the first visit.
To deal with these scenarios iProximity has implemented three networks within its cloud based management system known as the iPX.
OPEN BEACON NETWORK
The Open Beacon Network refers to a deployment of Beacons across a space know as Zones, or potentially multiple Zones. The Beacons are deployed without any security measures and virtually any App can be triggered by those Beacons. There is little to no control on messaging and all Apps work independently of each other.
CLOSED BEACON NETWORK
Within a closed Beacon Network each Beacon has some security measures that included rotating UUIDs. Each App wishing to access the Beacons must have the appropriate SDK incorporated to de-code the security layer and incorporate the management of the iPX.
Each App is then configured to understand the Zones of that space. In the Shopping Centre example; the Centre’s App is triggered in the common areas and Retailer’s/Tenant’s own Apps are mostly triggered when the customer is inside that retailer.
The Shopping Centre may wish to offer some opportunities to trigger notifications or Retailer’s Apps in other Zones on some form of commercial arrangement.
HYBRID BEACON NETWORK
The Hybrid Beacon Network extends the closed Network and is focussed on the end customer experience, ensuring that the maximum number of notifications received within by a customer the centre is controlled. This control may be executed by Zones, so that the control is maximised in a common space but relaxed when in customer is in a Tenant’s space, such as a retailer or airline club lounge.
This control may also extend to the content being displayed in each App triggered by the Beacon Network, for example the Shopping Centre Operator may wish to vet all messages.
The same hybrid approach can also be applied to the statistics collected by the Beacon Network implementation, all information could be made available to all participants, or shared based on Zones or purely interactions. This needs to be reviewed on a case by case basis generally as the data collected can be so rich it is usually of commercial value to potentially a wider audience than just the affected operators.
The Benefits of Multi-Tenanted Hybrid Beacon Networks
There are many benefits of implementing Beacon Infrastructure and allowing multi-use of this installation, these include:
- Spectrum Noise: Beacons are a low energy Bluetooth transmitter operating on a common WiFi frequency of 2.4GHZ. There low power makes their signal strength fluctuate and susceptible to many sources of interference, simply reducing the number of Beacons in an area through multi-tenanting is a benefit.
- Network Maintenance: All Beacons need maintenance, USB or powered Beacons need less monitoring, but not all locations for Beacon placement have power. Simply; monitoring and maintaining fewer Beacons is more efficient.
- Simple Implementation: iProximity’s multi-tenanted solution simply requires each Approved App to incorporate our iOS or Android SDK. The SDK provides the Beacon security detection layer the interaction with the iPX.
- Control: Consumers must value the service to choose to continue its use; the single most effective way to dissuade customers is by over messaging them. In a hybrid implementation this control can be offered on a number of cascading levels, e.g. total number of interactions per day, per visit, per hour, per retailer etc.
- More importantly this control can vary based on the nature of the App. Instead of a consumer based App, the App may be designed to offer employees with a range of services meaning that Cleaning, Security, Maintenance, Service or Employees Apps could use the same Beacon Network to control and monitor employee or operational efficiency.
- Commercial Models: A range of commercial models can be implemented when offering a single Beacon Network solution across a multi-tenanted space and these vary significantly based on the requirements of the ultimate Network owner, or potentially joint owners. The iProximity team can assist in consulting with you to determine the most appropriate model for your requirements.
There are many benefits from implementing proximity-based services using Beacons in Enterprise, Local Government and Consumer spaces; there are also many unforeseen complexities. iProximity has partnered with the best mobile implementation companies to deliver an unparalleled solution in the marketplace.
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