Geofencing has been around as a buzzword for some time now, finding its place in different industries and across businesses of all sizes. But what exactly is geofencing and how does it help businesses in practice? More importantly, what benefits can geofencing software offer to your business?
Read on as we dive into how geofencing works, its pros and cons, and some tips to keep in mind if you are considering implementing geofencing within your company.
What is Geofencing?
In a nutshell, geofencing is a technology that uses GPS, mobile data (or another form of location tracking), and digital maps to create virtual geographical perimeters, prompting a predefined action when a person, device, or asset enters or leaves the area. In other words, geofencing sets up a virtual fence around a geographical location that registers and keeps track of users entering and leaving - hence the term “geo-fencing”.
How Does Geofencing Work?
As we said, geofencing consists of three elements that work in unison:
- the defined perimeter,
- the device tracking system,
- the device being tracked.
In order for the system to work, the first thing it needs is a defined real-world area with the geofencing software. This can be a circle with a set diameter around a location, a custom-drawn polygon, a neighborhood, or even an entire zip code.
Next, geofencing software can use GPS, cellular data, RFID (Radio Frequency ID), or Wi-Fi to monitor the precise location of the tracked device. Depending on the purpose, the software can be programmed to send alerts, push notifications to mobile devices, or trigger other actions when a tracked device enters or leaves the geofenced area.
Finally, the tracked mobile device or smartphone user needs to opt in to being tracked via location services.
The Pros of Geofencing Software
Using geofencing software can have considerable benefits for companies across different industries. We’ll outline some of the most notable reasons businesses use it to streamline their processes and boost their efficiency.
1. Accurate Real-Time Data
Coupling GPS with geofencing can provide you with very precise data on the whereabouts of your employees, potential customers, or assets in real-time. At any given moment, you can have access to information such as the number of tracked devices within a single or multiple geofenced perimeters, the time when specific devices entered or have left the area, as well as the total time spent there.
In addition, depending on your needs, the system can be programmed to send notifications or prompt other actions as soon as a device crosses the perimeter boundaries. The precision of the tracking system and instantaneous inputs, as well as its versatility in application to different businesses, make geofencing software a valuable asset for any company that can make use of the data it provides.
Some of the most common applications of such systems can be found in managing mobile workers, securing company assets or vehicles against theft, fleet management, construction site monitoring, etc.
2. Efficient Use of Resources
The accuracy and variety of output data can empower you to make efficient decisions when it comes to spending resources. For example, it allows marketing managers to send very targeted offers and ads to potential customers based on their location and proximity to a store. So, instead of casting a wide net, they can target specific users that are more likely to find the message useful and potentially convert, thus achieving better results with less expenditure.
Another example can be found in managing a mobile workforce. Knowing exactly how many and which of your employees are in a certain area can allow you to assign the right person to a task, saving time and fuel in the process, while ensuring a good response time.
3. Increased Employee Efficiency
Closely related to the previous point, efficient time and resource management also increase employee productivity, as it allows for more time to be spent on effective work and less time in transit. In addition, the collected data can provide valuable insight into the productivity metrics for individual employees. In turn, this can help you identify what you can do to help them improve and become more efficient at what they do.
Finally, certain businesses can benefit from location-based reminders automatically sent to their employees when they enter the geofenced area. Sort of like a to-do list before they leave.
4. Accountability and Safety
Holding mobile employees accountable can get tricky without the right technological solutions in place. With software that supports geofencing, such as Timeero, you can gain access to accurate information on the whereabouts of your team members at any given time, as well as receive notifications when they enter or exit a geofenced area. Since all entries and exits are logged automatically, you’ll have all the data you need in case of a dispute or a complaint filed against a member of your staff.
When it comes to employee safety, geofencing offers benefits for different types of businesses. If an employee finds themselves in need of assistance for any reason, knowing their exact location, as well as who else is nearby, can save some valuable time in critical situations.
Additionally, you can geofence certain dangerous locations within a worksite or a larger area and automatically send warnings to employees who cross the boundaries or get close to doing so. Similarly to this, the same approach is used by tourist agencies to mark hazardous environments
5. Process Automation
The right geofencing app can help you automate processes such as mileage tracking and time tracking by eliminating the need to file written reports. Instead, all the data is logged automatically via the geofencing software and made accessible in a couple of clicks.
For example, if your employees work within a defined area, such as a construction site or a building, the software can log the time when they entered and exited the premises automatically. This way, you can eliminate the need for them to clock in or out, as well as avoid buddy punching altogether.
The same applies to odometers and other manual mileage tracking methods. With everything working automatically, your employees don’t need to waste time filing reports (nobody’s favorite task), while your company benefits from accurate data available to the management at any time.
6. Simple Implementation
Most geofencing software is simple to implement and tailor to your business’s needs. With an app like Timeero, you can use smartphones to track your employees, notify them of any updates, automate time tracking, scheduling, and more. No need to purchase any specific hardware or GPS tracking devices.
7. Data Collection
Apart from sending real-time alerts or prompting actions, a geofencing application also collects data and stores it in a single place. This allows decision-makers to have a clear overview of how employees spend their working hours, the performance of geofenced areas, as well as unified reports.
Such insights can help management come up with actionable steps towards improving efficiency, identify what works and what doesn’t, and make data-driven decisions when planning for the future.
8. Simplified Coordination and Communication
Communicating and coordinating with field employees and customers can get challenging at times. A geofencing app with the right functionalities can go a long way in simplifying and even automating communication. For example, you can set up the app to send out automated notifications to customers when your staff member is near their location, or give your drivers route-related updates when they enter a geofenced area.
Depending on the business you’re in, automated communication can help you provide customers with exceptional service, ensure all your employees have the latest updates, or provide specific persons in the field with the right information at the right time.
The Cons of Geofencing Software
Despite the many benefits of geofencing for businesses, it does have some drawbacks you need to be aware of. Knowing what they are and what you can expect will help you mitigate their effects and make the most of the benefits it offers.
1. Maintenance can be time-consuming
Like any system, geofencing needs to be maintained and updated in order to function optimally. Depending on how you intend to use it, you may need to monitor it regularly and make tweaks accordingly.
As we mentioned, the system needs to have a defined virtual perimeter in order to work. This means that you’ll need to set up each geofenced area individually, which can get time-consuming as you scale up. If you work on short-term projects, shutting down existing perimeters and setting up new ones can get tedious, so you need to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks in your particular case.
Additionally, it’s reliability depends on the technology you use. In some cases and with certain hardware, you may experience some bugs along the way. Apart from checking the status of your equipment and maintaining your geofences regularly, to counter this, you should have a backup option in place in the form of alternative on-the-spot solutions, just in case.
When researching and comparing geofencing software, make sure to pay special attention to its reliability and the maintenance it requires.
2. Pushback Due to Privacy Concerns
As you might presume, geofencing (like any other form of tracking) may be seen as an invasion of privacy.
If you’re planning on using it for tracking employees, you may be met with some pushback. The best way to approach the issue is to build trust. Explaining the benefits of geofencing for both the company and your staff can go a long way in addressing employee concerns. Additionally, you’ll want to have a sound policy in place, outlining the reasons for implementing geofencing, what data you will collect, and how it will be used.
On the other hand, using geofencing for marketing purposes has a significant drawback due to privacy concerns. In order to be able to target people based on their location, they need to opt-in to sharing their whereabouts with you. If they don’t accept personalized messages, you won’t be able to reach them through a geofencing campaign.
Whatever the case, you would be well advised to familiarize yourself with applicable consumer data privacy laws before implementing the system.
3. Battery and Data Draining
The impact of GPS tracking apps on battery life and mobile data usage is one of the main concerns for smartphone users. This especially holds true if you track employee location using their personal mobile devices.
This can be a major drawback of geofencing for marketing purposes, as many users will disable location tracking and mobile data to prolong battery life. Such a practice can hinder your efforts to reach your target audience with personalized messages even if they opted-in to receiving them.
When it comes to using geofencing for managing your employees, the negative effect of battery and data draining is somewhat simpler to address. If the benefits they stand to gain outweigh the cons, your staff members are likely to agree to have their location tracked. Especially if it is only during work hours. Further, providing employees with company smartphones can downright eliminate this issue.
Make the Most of Geofencing Software Benefits with Timeero
If you think your business could benefit from a geofencing software and the functionalities it offers, you’ll need to find the app that will work best in your situation. Weighing up the pros and cons discussed in this article against individual apps can help you make the right decision and mitigate any potential drawbacks.
Timeero offers the perfect solution for businesses looking to implement geofencing and GPS tracking systems in their organization. With geofencing, time tracking, mileage tracking, scheduling, and location data all accessible from a single platform, as well as easy integration with other tools, the app allows you to streamline your workflow by automating all records and payroll calculations.