future industry innovation

Geofencing: The Boundary Yet to Be Crossed

Geofencing: The Boundary Yet to be Crossed

When mentioning geofencing as a concept, it might perhaps come across as a term riddled in obscurity and deemed worthy of unravelling itself to those aware of its use in an area of specificity. Others might know the term after hearing stories about how technology is “finally out to get us” sending vibes of a dystopian nature right down your spine. Why this has become the case is probably not difficult to understand and one must only understand the core foundation of what this technology ultimately does. 

At the very core, geofencing is a technology-based service that creates engagement of users by sending them signals or messages when they enter a specific, pre-defined geographical location or area. These regions are known collectively as geofences and they detect when someone comes in or leaves the given region. Its use and implementation have already stretched into a number of different areas from business to Formula 1 Racing and one could understand why in the former case but not so much in the latter. 

From a consumer perspective, one could understand why this may seem as intrusive if you imagine such a hypothetical, yet all too real scenario; walking into a shopping mall and being bombarded with five-ten messages suggesting a particular store to influence your shopping habits. Some may see it as helpful and speed up the process of receiving a quick understanding of where to go but others may see it as detrimental to privacy, especially with the number of tech-data scandals currently in the crosshairs of worldwide media. 

Take the Cambridge Analytica scandal, for instance. While it may have somewhat died off in recent times, there are still mentions about perpetual connections and notices about tracking procedures that were overstepping the boundaries of making fair use of consumers’ data without their consent. Introducing geofencing, one might see how this could become worrisome and bring to light a number of such scandals in the future – but this time in even further cunning ways. 

I mentioned F1 racing and its implementation of geofencing. You might’ve been curious to understand how it could be used in such an area where speed is key and location-based tracking could seem irrelevant. It’s not. Especially not when it comes to pit stops. In this case it’s all about managing the number of pit stops, when to make them and how they can be optimized given that it doesn’t have to be done in minutes but in seconds. At the end of the day, it’s a logistics process that is perhaps best exemplified by trucking which makes use of it extensively, namely Scania that has just recently implemented measures for a more fluid and successful operation.

In cooperation with the Swedish Transport Administration, Scania showed how vehicles equipped with geofencing should prevent trucks and buses from driving faster than permitted, and how they automatically switch to electrical operation in environmental zones.

On Tuesday, Scania demonstrated its geofencing technology and how it works in urban environments. In trucking, the concept of geofencing works the same way, except it has more digital, distant controls that can be controlled remotely, i.e. the connected vehicle can be controlled digitally about access, speed and use of fuel. Speed limits are managed and in turn the technology makes it possible to control the vehicle speed so that it is not possible to drive faster in a specific geofence. 

During the demonstration, Scania showed up its truck equipped with technology, thus preventing driving faster than allowed and automatically switching to electrical operation in emission or noise-free zones. Among other things, the technology has been tested to make deliveries at night in noiseless zones.

According to their official site, politicians’ interest in geofencing was raised after the terrorist attack in Stockholm in 2017, and was seen as a measure to overcome similar attacks in the future. The government instructed the Swedish Transport Agency to investigate and test the conditions for creating safer and more climate-friendly cities using geofencing technology. In addition to Scania, Volvo Group, Volvo Cars, Veoneer, Gothenburg City and Stockholm City were included in the project.

Tuesday’s test and demonstration of the available technology in the urban environment was a first step. This autumn, an action plan will be presented with proposals for the necessary measures and timetables. The technology is available and the carriers are ready to order, but the towns are on the playing field.

It requires, among other things, coordination of digital maps, where vehicles bring home the conditions that apply. Regulatory and compliance controls also need to be reviewed. Today there is no legal possibility to prevent vehicles from entering a geofencing zone, it can only be done on a voluntary basis.

It’ll be interesting to see whether these boundaries will be crossed over into something that can really change the overreaching technological boundary as we know it or whether push backs will be seen as the norm in greeting this area of technology in consumer-specific scenarios. I highly doubt that trucking and logistics processes would be so much against it, au contraire it will most likely continue to be embraced. 

Evolvera – always changing, always evolving

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