This article will guide you on how to use Ekahau's Site Survey Client for BLE planning in conjunction with Meridian's current best practices. This article assumes that you have a base understanding of the ESS Client.
Steps to Take
1. Uploading a map
2. Defining your maps layers
3. Measuring square footage
4. Plotting your AP beacons
5. Augmenting for better coverage
1. Uploading a Map
We highly recommend using an AutoCAD (.dwg), as the scale of the map is pre-set, and the layers are much easier to define. If you do not have an AutoCAD available, we recommend watching Ekahau's short training videos on map scaling and defining your layers (walls, doors, glass, etc.). You can find that here
2. Defining your Maps Layers
This step will define the levels of attenuation in your space. It is important to define your layers as accurately as possible in order to obtain the truest result.
3. Measuring Square Footage
If you haven't already, we recommend using Ekahau's "Requirement Area" tool to measure out the square footage of the space. Meridian's Blue Dot, Maps, and Asset Tracking SKUs are per square footage licenses.
Select the Requirement Area tool. Now start drawing the perimeter of your space. Once you have connected the polygon, ESS will provide you the area of the space in meters squared. You can also select the "Exclusion Area Tool" if your map includes areas that you DO NOT intend to deploy beacons. Select the small drop-down arrow on the "Requirement Area Tool" to find the "Exclusion Area Tool" and define that space.
4. Plotting your AP Beacons
It's important to understand Meridian's method of RSSI trilateration in conjunction with your BLE planning in order to achieve the greatest result. Strong BLE coverage does not necessarily equate to proper location accuracy. You'll need to consider our current BLE deployment strategies to achieve both.
Crash-course on how Meridian makes a decision before plotting a blue dot on a map, or visualizing an asset. If you were to imagine/draw triangles between your APs/Beacons, you can consider these, "Coverage Zones". As beacons chirp, Meridian will take the loudest 3 beacons the mobile device hears, and plot the blue dot between those beacons relative to the RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) of the 3 beacons. In terms of Asset tracking, the AP beacons will report back known Aruba Asset tags, select the 3 AP beacons that heard of the tag at the strongest signal, and plot the asset on the map relative to the RSSI values.
**Battery beacons to do not participate in Asset Tracking. To augment coverage for Asset Tracking use-cases you will need to use Access Points**
If you were to draw a perimeter around your beacons, you should never expect a Blue Dot or an Asset Tag to visualize outside of that perimeter. This is illustrated by the purple shaded area above. If wall-to-wall coverage is required, you will need to deploy a perimeter of beacons to achieve the best experience.
1. We're going to start by selecting, "Bluetooth Coverage".
2. Select the "Adjusting Visualization Options" button. Set your, "Minimum Signal Strength" to -75 dBm. This is the only setting you need to adjust here.
You're ready to add your APs/Beacons to the map. There is currently no "Auto-Planner" setting for BLE RTLS in the ESS client. In this example we'll be using a WiFi deployment designed for Voice (meets a -67 dBm threshold), and we'll augment with battery beacons to provide an average location accuracy of 3 - 5 meters.
3. Add your Access Points on the map by model.
Our goal is to achieve at least a -75 dBm from at least 3 AP beacons and/or battery beacons. If you have an area that does not meet this criteria, it will be shaded in grey. From here we will augment with battery beacons and/or additional APs to meet our minimum RSSI thresholds.
4. Augmenting your AP infrastructure for better coverage
We will be taking learnings from Meridian's Deployment Best Practices to fill in coverage gaps. To do this properly you'll need to understand Clustered and Path deployment models. Please see our Best Practices document if you are unfamiliar with Clustered/Path deployment models.
It is strongly recommended that when working on an area that requires a Clustered deployment model, that you start from the inside and work your way to the perimeter. Path models are much simpler, and only require you to deploy a beacon every 10-15 meters in a straight line (ex: Hallways).
In this example we'll use the Aruba Battery Beacons (LS-BT20). Tap on the arrow next to the "Simulated Access Point" button, and change your selection to, "Bluetooth Beacon". From there, search for the Aruba LS-BT20 from the drop-down list to the right.
Due to the customer's aesthetic requirements, we will be placing our beacons low, and underneath cube furniture. You can account for this by editing the "Bluetooth Radio Settings" by right clicking the beacon and modifying the height of the beacon. If you are placing the beacon on a wall, instead of the ceiling, or underneath stationary furniture, you can also adjust the tilt of the antenna 90 degrees. These radio modifications do not make a significant change to your RF mapping, and can be skipped if desired.
It is critical to note that if you place the beacons low, and underneath metal, the RF propagation will be SIGNIFICANTLY attenuated. You will need to avoid covering the beacon by metal as much as possible.
By simply adding 2 beacons (illustrated below), we will see a huge improvement to BLE coverage.
Taking a step back, when considering Meridian's trilateration algorithm, the ESS client shows adequate coverage on the northern part of the space. However, because this area is outside of the perimeter, we would not expect a user's blue dot or an asset tag to visualize here.
Looking at the image below, this will give you a more accurate depiction of what to expect. The areas in red illustrate where the ESS client shows adequate coverage. However, these areas will not provide adequate Blue-Dot/Asset Tracking accuracy.
Adding beacons for perimeter coverage
In order to ensure a blue dot can visualize on the exterior of our space, we'll need to add beacons to the perimeter of the space.
From here we can expect location accuracy that meets our performance metrics of 3 -5 meters.