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New Software Streamlines Site Surveys for RTLS Rollouts

RTLS provider Ekahau announced new software that collects all the data needed for wireless LAN design and RTLS system planning in a single site survey. It can be used for new deployments or when adding an RTLS system to an existing wireless LAN.
Nov 08, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 8, 2007—The latest wireless coverage tool from Ekahau will allow users to plan wireless LAN and RTLS system designs from a single site survey.

Site surveys are conducted when organizations plan to use wireless LANs to determine where access points (APs) should be placed and how they should be configured to ensure reliable coverage.

Facility site surveys for RTLS deployments require data about access point coverage overlap and signal strength analysis that general-purpose wireless LAN site surveys typically don't provide, Ekahau product manager Jussi Kiviniemi told RFID Update. The new Site Survey 4.0 software Ekahau announced today collects all the data necessary, even if users aren't planning an RTLS deployment. It can be used to conduct site surveys to plan new wireless LAN deployments, and can also be used to assess how legacy wireless LANs may need to be reconfigured to support RTLS.

"A single survey serves dual purposes," Kiviniemi said. "Now there is no need to do separate site surveys to plan both wireless LANs and RTLS deployments."

RTLS applications can be added to most legacy wireless LANs without having to reconfigure the network or add access points, according to Kiviniemi. "Most wireless LANs deployed in the last three years, and practically any that support wireless voice-over-IP telephony, are pretty dense by design and have sufficient coverage density to support RTLS," Kiviniemi said. "You may have to add an AP or two if you want to monitor a specific area, for example if a hospital wants an alarm to sound if an RTLS-tagged wheelchair is taken past a certain door."

Clay Fisher of Carolinas HealthCare recently told RFID Update the hospital system didn't need to add any new access points to support the RTLS system it added to its legacy wireless networks that cover more than 1.4 million square feet at five facilities (see Carolinas HealthCare Launches Huge RTLS System). Freescale Semiconductor reportedly only had to add a few APs to support a new RTLS system on its legacy wireless LAN in a production environment (see Semiconductor Maker Cuts Production Time with RTLS).

Ekahau's new ESS 4.0 site survey software is fully compatible with the company's WiFi RTLS technology, including its software-based Ekahau Positioning Engine, which calculates tag locations. ESS 4.0 also supports traditional and lightweight access points, includes troubleshooting figures for diagnosing coverage problems after the network is installed, and provides graphical maps that allow users to see signal strength indications, data rates, and signal overlap measurements simultaneously on a single screen. Ekahau plans to make the software commercially available in January.
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