What Is Geofencing and How Does It Work?

Geofencing is an important technology, especially with the increasing number of intelligent devices. Existing for a few years, businesses now see geofencing's full potential. One of the predominant uses of the technology is in the marketing domain for targeting local ads. Another domain that uses geofencing technology is the employee attendance tracking system. According to market reports, the geofencing market is expected to reach US $ 1,825.30 million by 2022, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27.5%. What supports such buzzing growth of this technology, and how it works? Let's find out.

What is geofencing?

Geofencing is a location-based service for an app or software that uses GPS, Wi-Fi, RFID, or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a device enters the pre-determined virtual boundary set up around a location as a geofence. The technology can trigger several actions depending on the application. In advertising, it is used for mobile push notifications, trigger text messages and alerts, or displaying targeted ads on social media. In security applications, geofencing tracks vehicle fleets and disables certain technologies, or provides authentication. Some secured areas use a geofence to manage traffic. Whenever someone enters or leaves the secured area, an alert is generated. Businesses can benefit from employee attendance systems like Truein that use geofencing to monitor workers on the field, automate the time and attendance recording, and ensure employees are present at the designated site when punching in.

How geofencing works?

First, a developer or administrator has to set up a virtual boundary for a specific location in GPS or RFID-enabled software. It is the same as setting location on Google Maps when we put the radius for a certain distance. In mobile applications, Google Maps API is used to enable geofencing. Once the targeted device enters the virtual geofence, the response is triggered. In mobile applications, the geofence is hard coded within the application because the users have the option to opt-in to enable location access for the application for the geofence to work. An example of such use is when people visit a concert or an event. They get an option to download an app automatically to get more information and instruction about the event. Modern devices like iPhones also have geofencing capabilities that users can implement. For instance, iPhone users can set up iOS Reminders triggered when they reach a chosen address or location. The functioning of a geofence is based on the "if this, then that" command. In this approach, the app's action is programmed to trigger a movement based on another activity. For instance, some home automation apps have set up rules like "If I am 3 feet away from the door, turn on the lights." We used examples of mobile applications to make it easier for you to understand the work. Geofencing is a technology that has myriad applications in the shipping industry, agriculture, mining, and drone technology.

Geofencing applications and uses

As the use of mobile devices is rising, the scope of geofencing technology is broadening. Today, it has become a standard practice for many businesses to use geofencing to identify and target prospective customers. The number of opportunities it offers for micro-managing actions is vital for marketing and social media applications. It is an easy way to target competitors' customers with geofencing. Many retail and hospitality businesses set up a geofence around their competition. When customers approach the boundary, they get a push notification with an offer prompting them to visit the other establishment. Similarly, retail stores use geofencing to offer customers coupons when they enter the vicinity of their stores. But let's take a closer look at what geofencing is used for in different sectors:

1. Social networking for location-based stories, posts, and ads

The most recognizable use of geofencing is by social networking websites and apps to serve location-based content to users. For instance, Snapchat has location-based filters, stickers, and shareable content, made possible due to geofencing. Facebook also uses the same technology to provide more relevant content like nearby events, people, or offers. Google's Adwords ad network uses geofencing to trigger ads at a particular location. When searching for a service or content, Google ads are served based on your location.

2. To send in-store promotions to users

It is easy to understand that the ability to target an audience based on its location opens limitless marketing opportunities. From serving location-based ads to delivering in-store promotions, geofencing can help businesses increase the ROI on their advertisement and marketing spending multifold. When you can target an audience based on their location, you save costs and spend on running broader marketing campaigns. Digital ads are entirely dependent on geofencing technology to provide targeting features. With millions of brands running billions of ads, it is impossible to reach with right people with the right offers without this technology. The caching technology, when combined with geofencing, allows advertisers to serve ads to people who visited the geofenced location even when they leave.

3. Security for people and devices

There is no denying that geofencing can be an invasive technology, but it is solely dependent on how developers and engineers propose to use it. On the contrary, geofencing can enable more security for locations, people, and devices. An example is Android's 'Locate My Phone' or 'Unlock My Phone' features that work based on the device's location.

4. Companies use it to monitor employees' location

Companies use geofencing for workforce management. There are software solutions like Truein that allow companies across industries to track employee time but with the added assurance of ensuring workers are indeed present at the geofenced location when they clock in. It is making it easier for companies where workers spend most of their time off-site fieldwork to manage and accurately pay the employee. Truein is a face recognition employee time tracking and attendance software. Its cloud-based architecture supports geofencing by default. You can easily automate time cards and monitor the location of employees when they are clocking in or out. With Truein you can also check on workers taking too long or frequent breaks during work. Apart from location targeting, it also offers overtime calculation, leave management, attendance policy creation, and easy integration with most payroll software.

The future of geofencing

If you pay attention to the "targeting" aspect of geofencing technology, you can assume how it can be risky in specific scenarios. Location-based marketing has privacy concerns, and many people are uncomfortable with the idea of their location being tracked by apps or businesses. This is stirring laws, and Massachusetts became the first state to enact a consumer protection law restricting location-based marketing. Despite privacy concerns, geofencing technology is steadily growing. Experts believe the growth is sustainable because of the "technological advancements in the use of spatial data and increasing applications in numerous industry verticals."

Conclusion

We hope this article gives you a clear explanation of what geofencing is and how it works. With the digital penetration of the internet, it is possible to reach people with the offers and services they want and when they want them. Geofencing has applications in many industries and is expected to keep growing amidst privacy concerns.
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How FMCG companies are taking advantage of ‘GPS and face recognition attendance’ to empower sales and marketing staff

Large FMCG companies have a sales workforce that tends to report directly to their sales beats or to the distributor point. Similarly, the marketing staff has to do market visits or go for meetings at agency offices. Rarely does the sales or marketing team report to head office for attendance. 

More often than not, there is a manual attendance register that gets reconciled at month-end. In other cases, the managers receive out-of-office request emails from their subordinates and the manager has to manually override absent marks in the system. Either ways, it is a painful exercise. 

FMCG companies have figured an easier way to overcome this issue. What did they do?

Embrace face attendance:

Face attendance is the only form of attendance that cannot be fudged or misused. Card based attendance can invite proxies as workers do buddy punching. Thumb based attendance is known to have recognition issues which give rise to parallel systems like manual registers. Face attendance, especially on reliable systems like Truein, works with practically 100% accuracy. No misrepresentation. FMCG companies have built trust and reliability within their sales departments with the power of face attendance

Allow selfie-based attendance:

Large FMCG companies have given up the idea of calling the sales team to head office for attendance. It is not practical and it is not productive. They have placed an attendance system in every salespersons’ palm. Sales people simply download the Truein app and turn their very own mobiles into attendance systems. They can upload their attendance selfies and register attendance from wherever they are - on field, at agency office or in market. 

Take advantage of Geo-fencing:

Companies have marked territories by defining GPS boundaries in the Truein face attendance system. Sales and marketing staff can take selfie attendance from wherever they are, as long as they fall within the approved geography. So a sales person can’t log attendance from home. He has to be at a specific location which need not be the head office. It can be the distributor’s office, geo-fenced by their HR team.

Geo-fencing lets companies adapt progressive policies like ‘anywhere attendance’ without worrying about misuse. 

Rely on system stamps:

Can employees change their device time and location to manipulate attendance stamps? No way. Companies that have implemented the Truein way of attendance know that the system is robust. The system stamps take only the server time and cannot be played around with. 

All time and location stamps are preserved, creating a robust audit trail. Sales and marketing staff can be made accountable and can be questioned if the records look suspicious. 

Create a unified system:

The biggest reason why some FMCG companies have been able to overcome the age-old attendance problem is through their reliance on forward-looking technology. They cut down the parallel systems like manual registers or email approvals completely. They use Truein as the single-source of truth for all attendance related matters. Truein is used for all of the following:

  • Marking attendance on kiosk or employee mobiles 
  • Sending leave requests and approving them 
  • Managing shifts 
  • Managing employee overtime policy and calculating overtime hours and other compliances 

When there is a single unified system, it is easy to manage massive records and there is no need for manual reconciliations. 

Key learnings from FMCG

  • When you are dealing with a large workforce that works from out-of-office, you need the power of automation. Manual registers won’t do. 
  • There has to be a balance of freedom and compliance. Employees are less stressed out and yet the company has audit trails. 
  • It is important to work with proven technologies like Truein and overcome many problems in one clean shot.
    • Face based attendance 
    • Geo-fencing 
    • Selfie-based attendance 
  • Build a single-source of truth so that everything flows into payrolling and other systems too. 
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How geo-fencing takes touchless attendance to the next level?

Face recognition based attendance is the straight off answer to the touchless solution the world is seeking today. Or may it is not as straight. Not all face recognition attendance is made equal. It is important to consider specific use-cases before picking the one that works for you.

Today, we will focus on use-cases for geo-fencing – a powerful feature on Truein’s contactless attendance system.

What is geo-fencing?

With Truein, organizations can allow users to mark attendance from their very own phone. Organization’s ability to limit such attendance to only a specific geography (usually a radius around the office) is called geo-fencing.

Geo-fencing can be activated to ensure that employees don’t queue up in front of the kiosk at the main gates, conveniently use their own phone but do not misuse it while vacationing.

Who is it most relevant for?

Retail chains

Large retail chains can avoid putting a kiosk at every store. Each individual store can geo-fence attendance for their site and employees can mark attendance from their devices. It can result in huge savings while ensuring automation that syncs data back to the head-office in real-time.

Construction sites

In case of outdoor locations, the supervisors need not report to office before going to the site. They can go to their work site directly and mark attendance after reaching that geo-fenced boundary.

It makes sense for even contract workers who keep changing and report to site directly.

Marketing and event agencies

Any organization that employs a large workforce that is on their feet and always on field, would find geo-fencing very useful. The geo-fencing feature can be used to mark radius around the distributor’s office where sales team reports. It can also be used to mark an event location where the marketing team is working.

Any other large organization

In case you have a large employee strength, you can shorten the queue at the main gate by activating user-device based geo-fenced attendance.

What are the key advantages?

Being compliant:

We believe that automation of attendance should always be 100%. If you leave scope for manual entries in case of remote sites, on-field force etc., you are increasing chances of proxy and plenty of paperwork.

When data for the entire workforce gets automated – no matter where they are, all of it can feed back into compliance and salary calculations.

Being progressive:

The hard part about allowing employees to report directly to remote sites is the ability to track and trust. You can leave all of it behind and embrace progressive HR policies. Geo-fencing is your safety net – an assurance that all will be well even when you adopt laissez-faire policies.

It sure leaves a good impact on employee satisfaction score as well.

Being safe

When social-distancing is active and you have a large workforce queuing up at the kiosk, you could consider moving to geo-fenced user-device attendance.

People can space out and mark attendance from their desks if they please.

What should you know about geo-fencing on Truein?

Truein has evolved over the last 4 years to include more than hundred features. Geo-fencing is only one of them. Like always we have focused on keeping it simple.

  • It can be activated or deactivated by the user at a click of a button
  • There is no limit to how many locations can be activated
  • It is possible to geo-fence attendance by adding Google location address or latitude/longitude co-ordinates
  • It is also possible to define the radius around the marked address.

The bottom line

Face recognition is the buzzword in touchless attendance. However, that is just the beginning. Making it more widespread and employee-friendly is what true evolution would be. Activate geo-fencing and other hundred plus features to suit your specific HR policies.

Read more why do you need face technology in your organisation and how you can Implement Face recognition based attendance for your organisation in hours.

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