Get more Precise Lone Worker Locations with Beacons

Having a lone worker monitoring system is vital for protecting staff. GPS location data received from mobile phones helps to find workers in emergencies. The data, which is updated every 2 seconds to 2 minutes, gives the last known location of a worker to those looking for them.

This technology is constantly developing, although if there is no satellite reception it is difficult to locate someone and impossible to give a precise location for someone inside a building. Being able to locate a worker inside a warehouse, office building or factory is crucial to ensuring their safety.

What are beacons and how do they work?

The use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons is enabling companies to know the location of their workers within a building. The small beacons are radio transmitting devices that are best placed on a wall and can be programmed to give out longitude and latitude coordinates, or exact locations ie, ‘Warehouse G, Floor 2, Section 12’. Having the beacons placed higher on the wall, two metres above the ground, with the signal emitting from above, makes it easier for a smart device to detect it.

Beacon plan for lone workers
Beacons setup in a warehouse so the app can detect the area a lone worker is currently in

How do Bluetooth Beacons work with Apps?

The beacons transmit a Bluetooth signal around themselves that is picked up by passing smart devices. Devices able to receive the signals are iPhone 4S or later, running iOS 7.1 or later, or an Android phone operating Android 4.3 or later. These devices then translate the signal into a location. As the beacons emit the signal around themselves in all directions it is best to have multiple beacons in each area and triangulate them, so their signals intersect. This will enhance the accuracy of the position and give the most precise location information.

Using Beacons for Lone Worker Protection

When a worker starts their shift, if they have Bluetooth turned on the app will start searching for beacons nearby. As they move around the area registered beacons log the time, name and id of the worker. If necessary, and based on the strength of the signal, the beacon can also feed-back an approximate distance from itself as well.

Why use Beacons for Lone Workers?

Beacons do not require any wiring or external power supplies and can be mounted by a single screw or some have adhesive backs. When placing them it is best to avoid structures made from iron or placing behind heavy materials as these can sometimes cause disturbances.

BLE beacons usually come with a pre-established App or a web-based portal that can be used to process the information being fed back. These systems allow the workers locations to be relayed to supervisors in real time and help monitor lone worker safety.

Who is using Beacons to enhance their lone worker monitoring system?

Ok Alone has recently introduced BLE beacons as an alternative to GPS only systems. Their beacons are fully integrated into the existing OK Alone app and fully functioning within the lone worker system. This will allow companies to know their workers are able to check in or request help and have real time locations for them, whether they are out in the field or down in the basement.



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