Leveraging Wi-Fi, beacons as part of indoor-location solution ideal for active-shooter incidents, Guardly says
Toronto-based Guardly says it can leverage a burgeoning technology—beacons—to provide accurate and specific indoor-location information quickly during an active-shooter incident.
Guardly’s Enterprise E911 solution is a smartphone application that uses indoor-positioning-system (IPS) technologies—specifically Wi-Fi and beacons—to pinpoint a person’s location inside a building, down to the room and floor level, according to Guardly CEO Rob Moffat.
The solution can help security personnel quickly locate an active shooter—a critical factor, because most shootings are over by the time first responders arrive on the scene—and provide real-time information to law enforcement from those in the building.
While the solution can utilize Wi-Fi access points or beacons, Moffat said a hybrid approach is more ideal. And both Wi-Fi and beacons increasingly are already in place, especially in retail and entertainment environments, where marketers want to track foot traffic and where crowds tend to gather for large events like football games.
Beacons are especially key for accuracy and flexibility, Moffat said. Beacons, which have signal radii of three to 160 feet, broadcast Bluetooth Low Energy radio signals to nearby devices.
“The ability to add that to the solution allows for a much greater level of granularity, and that can provide a much faster ability to identify an indoor location,” Moffat said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It’s a different concept in terms of the technology used to identify indoor location, because now you have a little thing saying ‘I’m here. I’m here. I’m here.’
“So the beacon really allows us to get a lot more granular and provide a much better level of accuracy to the end user so they know where people are and can deal with (an incident) accordingly.”
The company has articulated its findings about the application of IPS technologies in an active-shooter setting. That paper, which can be read here, states that IPS solutions “are significantly more affordable and can be implemented much faster than (real-time locating systems) solutions.”
The beacons allow Guardly to create a 3D map of a building that is designed to help the user better visualize where staff, security and tenants are at any time. But the challenge for IPS can be large, open spaces, such as a three-story food court in a mall.
Guardly’s IPS solution was recently part of a mock-terrorism exercise with a retail customer in Indianapolis, as well as an active-shooter scenario and other use cases.
During the mock terrorism exercise, improved communications due to indoor-location information and the ability to share video with law enforcement proved critical.
“They found they were able to communicate much faster with the app, because the app already knew where the users locations were,” Moffat said.
“The takeaway is there’s no one solution that does it all, and those that make up the solution need to be able to talk to one another. Our apps are for communications, but we also have to communicate with the other apps to make the whole thing work.”
In January, the company plans to release enhancements, such as a chat component for secure group communications and location-based forms for routine maintenance, like a fire-extinguisher inspections. Guardly will still offer a “Guardly Lite” version that uses GPS.