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Most people are familiar with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, Bluetooth beacons, and Wi-Fi nodes. If nothing else, the average person understands how to use GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi technology in relation to mobile devices. They are considered standard technologies in today’s society. But few people are familiar with geofencing, a technology that works in conjunction with all of these systems. Despite being around for a number of years, it’s just now starting to realize its potential.

What is Geofencing?

“Geo-fencing (geofencing) is a feature in a software program that uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries,” TechTarget explains. “Geo-fencing allow an administrator to set up triggers so when a device enters (or exits) the boundaries defined by the administrator, an alert is issued.”

Geofencing boundaries can either be active or passive. Active geofences require the end user to actually allow location services to be turned on in order for the device to be affected. Passive geofences are always on, regardless of the end user’s choice.

While location based services took some pretty big leaps in 2016, industry experts like Andrew Gazdecki are anticipating 2017 will be the year that geofencing reaches new heights.

What Are the Applications?

Making a list of applications is difficult, because it’s nearly impossible to put a lid on the potential of geofencing technology. All it takes is a new software program or mobile device and suddenly there’s a new use.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the most common and likely uses:

1. Drone Management

There’s a lot of talk about drones right now, but one of the biggest issues has to do with privacy and security. How can individuals and organizations ensure their privacy when anyone can purchase and fly a drone whenever and wherever they like? Well, this is actually one of the more promising applications of geofencing. With geofencing, no-fly zones can be created that prevent drones from crossing defined perimeters.

2. Personal Reminders

With all of the things you have packed into your busy schedule, the last thing you want to do is make multiple trips to complete simple errands. With applications like Todoist and RememberTheMilk, which both use geofencing, you can get location-based reminders to drop off the dry cleaning or stop by the supermarket when you enter the vicinity of the building. This is one of the more practical uses of geofencing currently available.

3. Business Travel Management

Geofencing can also be used in business. For example, companies that use SAP software for travel and expense management can actually locate, alert, and communicate with travelers – no matter where they are on the globe. When employees leave a certain geographical area, the system could be set up to begin recording transactions and activity in the cloud system.

4. Smart Home Control

Ever wished your home would respond to your needs? With products like the Philips Hue System, you can utilize geofencing technology inside your own home. The system uses built-in location-based tech to turn lights on and off as you walk from room to room. It’s equal parts spooky and cool!

5. Family Tracking

If you’re a parent of teenage children, you know the stress of trying to track them down and figure out where they are. Well, with an app like Life360, you can keep tabs on exactly where they are at any hour of the day or night. Using a simple map interface, you can easily locate each member of the family and get a notification when they arrive somewhere new (such as home, work, or school).

2017: The Year Geofencing Makes Some Noise

While geofencing isn’t a new technology, it’s finally poised for a breakthrough. This is partly due to perceptions in the consumer marketplace and advances in the simplicity of the technology itself. With 68 percent of the U.S. adult population owning a smartphone, there’s more potential than ever for mass appeal and ubiquitous application. Keep an eye on geofencing this year to see what new developments unfold.

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