January 14, 2013

Location-based Wi-Fi Can Aid in Staffing, Promotions, More

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2012 issue of Next Gen Mobility Magazine.

Cisco (News - Alert) System wants to help service providers and businesses shift Wi-Fi from a cost center to a revenue center. The company aims to do that by enabling businesses to deliver more meaningful and location-based experiences to end users via these connections.

Working alongside cellular and Wi-Fi network operator AT&T and Qualcomm (News - Alert) (with its Snapdragon chipsets), Cisco today highlighted two customer applications that draw on this concept.

One is a free opt-in application offered to visitors of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Leveraging Cisco’s context-aware location data analytics and an AT&T (News - Alert) Wi-Fi network, the application guides visitors through the museum, offering audio, video, and touch-screen experiences that are activated based on a visitor’s locations within the venue. Visitors also can tweak the application based to their preferences. Fernbank can leverage the application to publish local in-venue services and conduct mobile marketing promotions targeting visitors. And real-time and historical data on visitor path and flow analysis offered by the application enables Fernbank to adjust staff according to need.

The other is a foot traffic management application in use at Copenhagen Airport. This tracks passengers in the international terminal so the airport can better understand where and how many security personnel and staff are required.

Of course, these are just two examples of how the Cisco technology can be used. Education, health care, hospitality, retail and travel are among the other verticals Cisco and its partners are targeting with this location-based indoor infrastructure solution.

“AT&T’s vision is to expand the value of Wi-Fi networks from high-quality connectivity to a business innovation platform – a direct result of our commitment to consumers and the business community that serves them,” says Joey Schultz, vice president of consumer marketing at AT&T.

Prashanth Shenoy, a senior marketing manager at Cisco, explains that this solution relies on a combination of network services discovery; real-time and historical location analytics (from Cisco’s recent ThinkSmart Technologies acquisition); and Cisco’s Mobile Concierge Business Intelligence Platform & SDK, which allow businesses to quickly create location-based applications.

To get up and running with such an application, Shenoy explains, a business will require the Cisco Mobility Services Engine, which can work in multitenant environments; user devices containing the Qualcomm chip with a Cisco MSAP embedded client, or with MSAP at the app layer or at the browser layer; and a software license for Cisco’s marketing module so the business can create its marketing program.

New network capabilities for the Cisco Mobility Services Engine include:

  • Network Services Discovery – businesses can use Wi-Fi networks to detect, connect and engage mobile users connected to their Wi-Fi network.
  • Location Analytics that provide real-time location analytics and historical trends as mobile users travel around a businesses facility.
  • Mobile Concierge feature allows organizations to engage with mobile users through a native application on a smart mobile device. Cisco offers a software developer kit for Mobile Concierge to ease development of applications and services that leverage the Cisco MSE. Mobile Concierge also provides businesses with an intelligence platform for building marketing promotions targeted directly at its customers.  

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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