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The democratization of GPS, IoT and Location Based Services

GPS, IoT and Location Based Services    GPS locationIt is hard to imagine a world without the use of global positioning systems or GPS for short. Over the last decade or so we have seen the use of GPS systems increased tremendously due to the miniaturization of the technology. It meant the end of the analog Road Atlas and introduced personal navigation devices and allowed organizations like TomTom, data company taking the information from the devices and turn it into data about traffic around the world. We rely on our GPS systems to go from A to B. Imagine what you can do with an IOT devices that allows location-based services with a long battery life.

Geolocation

What used to be slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes now fits around your wrist quite nicely, like TomTom’s Runner Sportswatch. GPS is by the way originally the name of the American system that was developed by the US department of defense in the 1970s. It uses satellites to provide the geolocation services as well as time information to everyone who has an unobstructed view of at least four satellites in order to calculate the exact position. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen computing systems like Galileo (EU) and Navic (India) as well as systems from the Russians and the Chinese.

An industry that evolved

Based on that capability of determining where a person or object is on the planet we have seen a whole industry evolve. The navigation industry with Dutch company TomTom is one of the leading players in that market has shown tremendous growth starting out with navigation devices or PND’s personal navigation devices and is now becoming a data company that is gathering data from cars trucks motorcycles and RVs in order to map the traffic around the world. We’ve also seen sports watches emerge in the market that actually allow runners cyclists skiers and other sports fanatics track their activities.

One of the challenges of course is that GPS is consuming a lot of power to constantly determine the location and speed.

Roadie

Recently I came across a tracking device from French company Invoxia that is different. The device is called Roadie and it has a battery life on a single charge between one month and six months with the capability to send its location details to an app on your smart phone. They call it the GPS tracking device that they don’t use the satellites that were normal GPS tracker would use. They use a low-power network but LoRa which stands for low-power long-range. Companies like the Dutch telco KPN is rolling out the network of LoRa in the Netherlands, other organizations are doing that in other parts of Europe/the world. LoRa is especially designed for the Internet of things. Roadie is approximately the size of a comb, 11 cm tall, 2,5 cm wide and less than 1 cm thin. The Roadie device is not only different in the network that it uses, it is also a difference in the sense that it doesn’t send its location every second or even every minute using the network but will use a four-hour interval in a stationary mode (so when it’s not moving) and a user selectable 5 to 15 minutes interval when it’s on the move.

What’s in it for you?

So, what can you do? With the Invoxia GPS Tracker, you’ll always know where your stuff is. And with stuff I mean it could be your car could be your luggage and it could also be in the backpack of your kit on its way to school when it’s playing around in the park. As long as you do not have the need for a constant every second or every minute GPS location this tracker will give you a general area. Of course, it works with an app for mobile device that Is actually the way that you communicate with the tracker because it doesn’t have a display or buttons to push. It doesn’t use a sim card. You can indicate a certain zone that you would like to have a warning when the tracker enters or leaves that zone. That would mean for instance your kids just wandering off little bit too far from home or your car driving away from where it’s parked. For regular readers of my blog know that this will spike my interest. Because it means that we can now use IoT in a lot more use cases. The long battery life combined with the functionality it offers with location data and user-defined zones allows us to safeguard the stuff or even people that we care about. There is even going to be the pet tracker using the same technology.

Call your API    

Having an app is great to access the data that the tracker is sending but you know what even greater? Having an API that you can call! Because when you have that API you can integrated into systems! Make it part of your IT infrastructure testing location-based services on objects that you would like to track.

And when you have an API you want people to use the API, you also need an API management solution. That solution is important for a number of reasons:

  • security
  • monitoring
  • monetization

Let me quickly run through these three points. Security because you don’t want people were not authorized to use the data to use it. This is as much a security issue as well is a privacy and potential PR nightmare issue. APIs need to be secure keeping in mind the proportionality aspect.

The monitoring part is also important. This is partly security related thing, monitoring the IP addresses for instance where the API invocation came from allows you to identify suspicious traffic to your APIs stop. But there is also monitoring the sense that you would like all users to go with an equal share of the available bandwidth. And finally, there is the monetization aspect. It might very well be that with the tracker you created something, data or services, that other people would like to pay for. In that case you need to be able to monetize the use of your API and send out bills to the users.

There is of course more that you can consider when you select your API management solution. In order to make it easier for you we have created an API manager selection guide that will help you select the API that is right for you.

API Selection Guide 

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Picture of Ruben van der Zwan
Published September 25, 2018

Ruben van der Zwan

As Co-Founder and CEO of Yenlo, I am an IT-visionair and from the first hour. I believe that digitalization enables companies to grow by creating new channels to reach their customers. Important in such a digitalization journey is to avoid lock-in’s by vendors, technology and budget. Therefore, I am a fan of an API-first, Open-Source first and Cloud-first strategy. Obviously Yenlo’s key-focus services are aligned with these key-pillars by combining WSO2 open source technology with a secure and professional cloud-solution: Connext. Our Integration-Platform-as-a-Service solution for medium and large enterprises. Want to learn more? Contact me or join conferences all around the world where I am a frequent speaker.

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