GeoCertification: Improved Data Confidence and Application Experience Through GeoFencing and GeoAnalyticsJune 4, 2012 No Comments
By: Ron Bruder, VP/Director of Technology
The idea of a geofence or the process of geo-fencing in which a virtual perimeter is generated around a real-world geographic feature has experienced growing popularity in both technical as well as popular, consumer circles. In the GIS world, the geofence itself is nothing more than an irregular areal or radial point buffer. However, with the near ubiquity of GPS feeds from mobile phones and dedicated GPS tracking devices, each generally tied to person or worker, the number of new and potential applications for the “fences” has proliferated. The ability to take some action, whether it be a marketing notification or a security alert, when a person or their vehicle moves in or out of a predefined area is being applied in many professional and consumer circles. This article will describe how geofencing can be employed as part of a larger, adaptive process, which we’ve dubbed “geocertification,” to improve data quality and geofencing results, and streamline overall user application experience.
Elite EXTRA, an application of Applied Data Consultants (ADC), uses smart phones in conjunction with a robust geospatial and application software stack to provide package delivery routing and tracking across more than thirty U.S. states and parts of Canada. EXTRA for short, the program itself contains both browser-resident dispatch and administrative functionality in addition to native Android and forthcoming iOS mobile reporting and notification components. Heavily used in the automotive parts delivery industry, EXTRA allows the coordination, assigning, tracking and confirmation of parts delivery with the phones.
Primarily a business-to-business application, the delivery end points in EXTRA, while growing, are finite and often repeatable compared to business-to-consumer deliveries. Repair and auto body establishments receive deliveries to a same location over and over again. Therefore, in EXTRA each delivery location for a supplier, a point, can be mapped and have a geofence generated for it.
At each delivery, the driver, using the EXTRA mobile application, has a minimum of three required steps: Report Arrival, Report Delivery and Report Departure. When geofencing is enabled, at the time the delivery driver enters the predefined fence for their target location, 60 meters, the Report Arrival step is automatically completed. Integrity checks to eliminate false Arrival reporting, such as in an intentional or unintentional drive-by, are present. Automated Arrival is applied only when the device records a 2.5 mile per hour or less speed limit within the fence area. The opposite condition, a speed greater than 2.5 miles per hour within and then outside the fence, constitutes a Departure.
The efficiencies of this geofence-driven automation depend on high quality location data, both for the points around which the fences are generated and in the mobile GPS sensor. For the latter, we work with EXTRA clients to recommend phones and phone practices that will ensure the best quality phone location readings.
It is in the customer location delivery points where ADC developed the groundbreaking GeoCertification process, wherein the quality of and confidence in the delivery locations is improved through analysis of the empirical delivery data. Historical records of successful deliveries, gathered via geofencing, are scrutinized regularly using dedicated algorithms to determine their validity and precision.
Specifically, if a location has five or more reported successful geofenced deliveries, 10 meter buffers are generated around each delivery point and then a geometrical union is formed from the resultant shapes. If the unioned shape is a contiguous, single-part feature, it is considered a valid delivery location cluster. The geographical centroid of the unioned shape is then designated as the geocertified delivery location for that customer. The location is then frozen and used for subsequent geofence deliveries.
There are, of course, numerous ancillary steps that are applied to account for outliers in the recordings, both from technical limitations (i.e. phone GPS) and driver compliance issues (e.g. turning off GPS), as well as for real-world, valid changes in a client’s delivery location, such as the installation of a new loading dock that is more than 10 meters from the previous delivery point. A process of re-geofencing is then employed to account for these real world, yet valid location changes.
In summary, while valuable on its own, geofencing results can be run through an iterative and cyclical quality improvement filter to produce higher quality base locations for the fencing process, increasing the information integrity and allowing end users to have greater confidence in the data. In the case of EXTRA, this geoanalytical process is known as GeoCertification and it is employed to not only improve data quality, but also to increase the efficiency and ease of use of field-based mobile delivery application.Share on Facebook Tags: GeoAnalytics, GeoCertification, GeoFencing, Ron BruderGeneral, GeoWeb Applications