The expansion of IoT applications across different industries opened a new door of opportunity for telecom operators; many of whom are deploying/upgrading their networks to accommodate the increase in demand for IoT use cases.
Mass-scale IoT applications are often implemented using low-power chipsets allowing the devices batteries to last for years. One of the tradeoffs to ensure the low-cost and low-power expectations for these devices is the lack of embedded GPS modules.
However, location can still play an integral role in enabling many of these use cases including fleet management, asset tracking, and telematics among many other applications.
IoT spendings 2015-2025
Intersec GeoHub allows telecom operators to enhance their IoT offerings by adding the location component to the different types of IoT devices; enabling a multitude of additional use cases that translate into new revenue streams.
A unique source of location
GeoHub enables Telecom Operators to extract the location information for IoT devices in real-time regardless of the availability of GPS functionality on these devices. This is possible through the regular interaction of the devices with the operator’s network(s).
These network events are captured, and the location information (ex: serving cell) is extracted and populated in a fast-access database. Moreover, location data can be historized for additional insights regarding the movement patterns of the monitored devices.
Furthermore, GeoHub seamlessly consolidates the different location sources (ex: Wi-Fi, NB IoT, LTE Cat M1, App-based, GPS…etc.) into a comprehensive database accessible through open APIs.
GeoHub is a vendor-agnostic solution that can ingest location events directly from network elements (Core or RAN) or from existing third-party network probes.
With over 70 deployments around the world, a wide range of connectors have been developed by Intersec to ingest data from a multitude of sources. In addition, Intersec offers its own GeoSensor as an alternative light-weight location probe compatible with 3GPP networks, enabling real-time ingestion and processing of location data.
No Pressure on the Network
GeoHub is able to monitor 100s of millions of devices in real-time passively, thus relieving the operator’s network from any additional pressure or capacity requirement needed for active geolocation. As long as the device interacts with the network, GeoHub would be able to extract the location information from the network events with no need for additional signaling.
The location-capturing functionality can be enabled on all IoT devices on the network without affecting the real-time, fast-access capabilities of GeoHub. Thus, an end-user can query the last known location of any device that attached to the network and get the response in milliseconds.
Battery Life Optimization
Given the passive nature of location monitoring deployed by GeoHub, IoT devices don’t need to communicate any additional information beyond the standard required interaction with the network. This allows the device to maintain its power consumption to the bare minimum required. Moreover, even for devices that have GPS capabilities, the need and frequency of reporting GPS location can be significantly optimized to ensure extended battery life for these devices as well.
GeoHub can enhance the spatial accuracy of the device location through its passive sub-cell module. Based on vendor call traces, the passive sub-cell module processes the content of these trace files in near-real time to provide a more accurate location than the cell-based location directly provided in signaling. Furthermore, for network equipment vendors that don’t include a TMSI-IMSI correlation in their traces, GeoHub is able to provide such correlation thanks to the Geosensor which keeps track of the subscriber/device identity at any given time, and would enrich the call traces with the required ID.
10 growth-hacking use-cases for IoT -source: BCG and IDC
Use Case 1a: Asset Monitoring and Tracking (CAT M1 device with no GPS)
Assuming an asset with a CAT M1 IoT device (no GPS functionality) is being moved from California to Virginia. The IoT device periodically sends information through the Operator’s network before going back to sleep (for power-consumption optimization).
In each interaction, the serving cell ID is also available in the signaling. Therefore, GeoHub would extract the Cell ID and translate it to its coordinates and store it in the database as the last known location of the device/asset. As the asset traverses the network, each new location is extracted and the “last known location” updated. All of this is done passively (i.e. no additional signaling from the network or the IoT device is needed beyond the normal periodic interaction).
Moreover, the historical log of all these locations can be used to present the movement pattern of the asset during this journey. The end-user would be able to query the location of the asset at any given time, and the solution can also provide additional insights about the time of journey, distance traveled, average speed of movement…etc.
Use Case 1b: Asset Monitoring and Tracking (CAT 1 device with GPS)
Assuming this asset has a CAT 1 IoT device with GPS functionality. Similar to Use Case 1a, the asset is moving from California to Virginia. The device is also periodically interacting with the network during this time. To optimize power consumption, the device would be configured to only provide GPS location when the asset is close to its destination. This can be done thanks to GeoHub geofencing capability. A virtual geofence would be created around the destination. Once the asset is detected within the geofence, the IoT device would be triggered to provide the GPS location. This ensures optimal power consumption while still benefiting from the accuracy of GPS location for the time-period needed only.
Moreover, network-originated passive location can act as an additional safety measure to GPS location given the “unspoofable” nature of the network interactions as opposed to the GPS module which can be hacked to report false coordinates.
Use Case 2: Fixed-Device Monitoring
Many smart devices such as thermostats, parking meters, vending machines, utility meters…etc. are meant to be “motionless” assets. Thus, many are implemented with low-power chipsets with no GPS functionality. However, in case the smart device moves, the end-user would need to be notified of such unexpected movement.
Thanks to the passive location data collection and the Personalized Geofence (PGF) feature in GeoHub, operators are able to implement such use case with ease. Once a device is installed in the intended location, GeoHub would be triggered to automatically retrieve the location of the device and set it as its new PGF. The provisioning process can be done simultaneously for 100s of millions of devices within seconds. Moreover, these devices would be under continuous monitoring. Once the device moves outside its provisioned location (PGF), the end-user would be notified with such movement for further action.
The same functionality can also be extended for “fixed” hotspots offerings. These devices are often sold as an alternative to broadband access in residences. The hotspot device is meant to be used only in a specific location (ex: home). However, the device itself doesn’t allow for such restriction, and the subscriber is able to move freely with the device to other locations. Using the PGF feature, these devices would be monitored for any unauthorized movement, and the operator would be instantly notified once a device is out of its provisioned location.