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What to Consider Before Implementing an Indoor Positioning System

What are some key performance indicators that must be taken into account?
By Flora Kawohl
Tags: RTLS
Aug 04, 2019

In today's world, the real-time location systems (RTLS) market is expected to reach $8.79 billion by 2023. This implies that indoor positioning systems (IPS) are not a luxurious feature for indoor venues anymore—they have become a prerequisite for the success of innovative enterprises. This article discusses some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) venue operators have to take into account when evaluating an IPS platform. The factors here are by no means complete but are technology-agnostic and intended to highlight some of the challenges which may even appear after the initial deployment.

Technical Evaluation Metrics for a Successful Indoor Positioning System
While KPIs' characteristics are driven by the specific use case, there are some criteria an operator's selected solution should meet.

• Real-Time Accuracy: This is defined as the accuracy of a user's location estimation when the device reaches a specific point. In addition to average accuracy, worse-case accuracy should also be considered and should be tied to the type of venue and physical scale. Sub-1-meter (3.3-foot) average accuracy may be meaningless if the worse 5 percent is at 50 meters (164 feet). For example, in a shopping center with typical store frontage of 6 meters (19.7 feet), 10-meter (33-foot) worse-case accuracy may be enough.

• Accuracy After Stabilization: This indicates the accuracy of a user's location after that user has stopped moving around. The presented blue dot might continue to fluctuate within a small range of 1 to 2 meters (3.3 to 6.6 feet), but in order to ensure a good user experience, it should not be frantic.

• Location Update Frequency: The location should be updated, at minimum, each 500ms in order to deliver a smooth user experience and sufficient granularity to generate accurate analytics.

• Time to First Fix: This refers to the number of seconds the solution needs to reach a stable blue dot after launching the app. The mobile application is supposed to detect a user's location without a noticeable delay (within a few seconds) for best navigation experience.

• Accuracy Standard Deviation: This indicates how consistent the solution is in its location estimations. The smaller the accuracy standard deviation, the more reliable the solution.

• Setup Time: This is defined as the amount of time the provider needs to install and configure the solution—most of the time, it does not include preparation time before the actual setup (e.g. the definition of routes on an indoor map). In some cases, deployment of additional hardware is required to enhance real-time accuracy.

• Floor Change Detection: The solution is supposed to detect when a user changes the floor by an elevator or escalator and should change the indoor map accordingly.

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