By Tobias Manolo
Geo-fencing does exactly what it says it does – it builds a virtual ‘fence’ that will trigger different actions depending on whether the platform, user, service or application is inside or outside the fence – and it’s for this reason that more and more applications, network platforms and services use this technology for security purposes; but for the mobile security market, particularly with burgeoning BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon, geo-fencing is becoming the centrepiece.
This technology certainly isn’t new; it’s been around for a few years! However, with the rise of the lucrative smartphone and mobile device market, geo-fencing has been shoved very much into the limelight and for businesses it represents a simple yet flexible way of dealing with security issues. It also enables a wide range of digital marketing benefits cost effectively, such has providing a customised, real time customer experience.
So what is it that makes this technology, this building of a fence so attractive to manufacturers and developers of mobile devices? Well, there are several reasons…
Geo-fencing allows the review and analysis of location-based data, enabling businesses to view insights that are actionable including usage patterns in different locations, demands on mobile services and ad campaigns run via mobile devices. Using this data about their customers, companies and organisations are able to improve customer engagement, deliver tailored, bespoke services, add value to communications and ultimately receive a better ROI (return on investment).
When it comes to the actual hardware, the mobile devices used within businesses and organisations, IT departments are able to get real time alerts about devices that are both inside and outside the geo-fence, thereby allowing them to reduce distractions on mobile devices yet still allow users to maintain control of their device. Through geo-fencing technology, IT administrators are able to keep security at a high, and help with productivity by setting different geo-fencing parameters, such as defining privacy and security levels on features of a mobile device – SD cards, cameras, etc. – when users are office-based, blocking certain applications – social media sites – and disabling the use of smartphones in discussion rooms, as well as avoiding location-based alerts being sent in these environments.
Today’s technological advances in geo-fencing services and products work with a range of capabilities – cellular triangulation, GPS, Bluetooth, optimised algorithms, cloud – as well as with different mobile operating systems, allowing it to be integrated seamlessly with alternative technologies, or the technologies can be bundled together. And security, privacy and business intelligence processes can be integrated with cloud, finger printing ID, IAM (identity and access management) solutions, document sharing applications, Bluetooth and more to ultimately improve not just security, but also efficiency.
But there are drawbacks; because geo-fencing’s location-based technology runs continuously, there is often a significant drain on mobile device batteries so battery management is essential. And there are the users to consider; many may not like having their location continually broadcast to a third party, i.e. the IT department so, it is important to ensure that any security settings and sophisticated enough to ensure the user’s privacy is protected. Additionally, it is an absolute must to ensure that you have the user’s consent to use geo-fencing technology, and provide them with easy way in which to disable this function as required.
Despite the drawbacks, which can be overcome with careful planning and alternative resolutions, there is a lot to be said for geo-fencing in the mobile security market.