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May 29, 2020 | In the News

Heard on the Street, Episode 51: Adding a Third Dimension to Location Data

Tags: 3D Location

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Location intelligence continues to be a foundational component of the local media and commerce industries. During the smartphone era, the topic has kept us busy, including its many moving parts like the underlying tech, the privacy environment, and emerging factors like 5G.

Meanwhile, bringing new dimension (literally) to location data is the field of “3D location.” This essentially takes typical lat/long coordinates and adds a Z-axis. It brings new meaning in the form of elevation, which comes in handy in places like high-rise buildings and shopping malls.

This is where Polaris Wireless hangs its hat. The company uses several inputs like barometric pressure to pinpoint mobile device locations using all three dimensions. This can have many use cases such as helping emergency responders show up to the correct floor of a building.

“Any time there’s an (X,Y) location, a corresponding Z can be helpful,” Polaris VP of Research Scot Gordon, told us on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast (listen above). “Especially when you’re in urban areas where there are multi-story buildings.”

In addition to emergency response, this can be valuable in marketing attribution, says Gordon. Not knowing elevation in a given location reading can be a pain point in high-value commercial districts where you may have several floors, like an urban shopping center or any mall.

“The marketing companies would like to know where they can attribute an individual visit,” he told us. “Specifically that they can attribute it to Starbucks or McDonald’s or any number of spaces that they would be interested in knowing who and which individuals visited.”

Adding a third dimension to location data is also effective in various public health contexts. For example, it helps hotels keep their employees safe when they’re working on a large property. The technology equips workers with a “panic button” that can transmit an exact location.

Going forward, Gordon is excited about the advent of 5G. Polaris’ underlying technology and data gathering methodology is a hybrid approach that utilizes many signals. 5G could be another signal given the technology’s low-range, high-frequency signal that requires densely-packed base stations in the same high-value urban locations that Polaris serves.

“We fuse various pieces of information into the location problem,” said Gordon. “So, anytime we can get new information that pertains to location, we can fold that [in]. Today, barometric pressure is the most meaningful measurement from an altitude estimation perspective, but it doesn’t mean that wifi or 5G can’t be leveraged in the future, and it should improve things.”

We discuss the ins and outs on the latest episode of Heard on the Street. Listen above, find out more about Heard on the Street, and see our episode archive hereContact us if you’d like to sponsor an episode, and check out Street Fight’s media kit for the full slate of visibility options.


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