This article covers the techniques you can apply to optimize blue dot location accuracy on a given map.
When developing a Location Beacon deployment plan, the most important factor is the expected behavior of the blue dot on a map. The goal of the Location Beacon deployment plan is to ensure that the mobile device will hear enough Beacons so it will draw the blue dot on the Meridian map that best represents the location of the user.
For example, if the user is walking down a hallway, the blue dot should move in a linear path along the hallway and not move through walls. Alternately, if a user is standing in an open space, the blue dot should show the user’s location within that area, and not in another room separated by a physical barrier.
Planning proper location Beacon placement to get accurate blue dot behavior requires an understanding of how the user will navigate on the Meridian map. Your first step is to define the pathways that a user will use. If you do not have a Meridian map, please follow the proper procedures to get a Meridian map.
Step 1. Create Routes on the Meridian Map
Once you have a Meridian map, start by creating all the possible paths that the user can use to get from one point to the next. To do this, go to the Meridian Editor, navigate to the specific map, and create the routes.
Here’s an example:
FIGURE 1: Create the turn-by-turn routes to help identify expected blue dot behavior.
Step 2. Identify Paths and Areas
After the routes are created, review the map and identify the hallways, or paths, and identify the open spaces, or areas.
FIGURE 2: Identify the paths and areas where the blue dot will be displayed.
Before moving on to the next steps, you’ll need to evaluate what’s already been deployed in the current environment. In a facility where there are no Aruba access points (AP) deployed, you can start deploying the Beacons per our recommended density. However, if Aruba APs with Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) Beacons have already been deployed, you’ll need to take those into consideration to use what’s already available. If you haven’t done so, you’ll need to enable the BLE in those APs and configure them to
beaconing. If they are beaconing, you’ll see the beacon MAC address when using the Beacons app to scan for Beacons.
Here’s an example of a location with already deployed access point Beacons (APB).
FIGURE 3: Consider the use of existing APBs for blue dot.
Step 3. Deploy Beacons in the Hallways
In hallways, the user will be moving in a straight line, so you’ll deploy Beacons using the path model.
The path model uses two Beacons to represent the user’s location. In a hallway, placing the Beacons in a linear path is preferred.
You can place the physical Beacons either on a wall or, if possible, on the ceiling. Since the blue dot will gravitate towards Beacons in the area, take care not to configure Beacons that may be out of the path, separated by a wall. Using a Beacon that is off the path may result in a blue dot that zigzags while a user is walking or shows the user in an area that is separated by physical obstructions, such as a wall.
Single Level Hallway
In the example, APBs and battery-powered Beacons are used to complete the path model.
FIGURE 4: Deploy Beacons to deliver expected blue dot behavior in the paths.
Place Beacons on the same side of the hallway at the same height in a straight line. If possible, place Beacons on the ceiling.
Only use APBs that for the placement model if it’s appropriate to do so. If there are APBs near the hallway in a room, separated by a wall, don’t use it as a location Beacon. Set it to proximity. It can still be used for Beacons Management, but won’t throw off the blue dot accuracy.
High Ceiling or Multi-Level Hallway
Not all hallways will be on a single floor or will have obvious places to place Beacons. In the example image, the hallway is open to the floor above, which makes it difficult place Beacons in the middle of the hallway. Although the hallway is wide, an area model will work, because showing the user in the hallway will suffice.
FIGURE 5: An alternate path Beacons deployment technique to deliver expected blue dot behavior.
Initially the deployment team placed the Beacons in a staggered pattern down the hall and configured the Beacons to be as close as possible to the actual Beacon placement. This resulted in the blue dot moving from side to side as the user walked down the middle of the hallway. To fix this, the Beacons were taken down and placed along the right side of the hall, but in the Beacons app the Beacons were placed closer to the center of the hallway. This way the blue dot will show the user is in the middle of the hallway instead of being next to a wall.
Step 4. Deploy Beacons in Open Areas
In open areas the area placement model should be used, because the user will have more space to move around without a physical barrier, such as a wall, to obstruct their movement.
Single Level Open Area
While the path model employs only two Beacons and tracks movement along one dimension, the area model uses three (or more) Beacons to track the user along two dimensions.
FIGURE 6: Deploy Beacons using the area model.
Configure existing APBs as location Beacons only if the Beacon applies to the use case in the area. If a nearby APB is available but doesn’t fit the deployment model, configure it as a proximity instead of a location Beacon. This way the APB can still be used for Beacons Management.
The map below shows the final result after all the Beacons have been deployed to meet the requirements for both path and area models. Configure Beacons for location if it satisfies the use case, otherwise configure it for proximity so that it can still be used for Beacons Management.
FIGURE 7: The end result after applying Beacon deployment techniques.
Multi-level Open Area
Multi-level open areas can be an open lobby with elevated pathways above or an open stadium field with elevated seating all around.
Multi-floor Open Atrium
One of the most challenging situations is an open area that is open to floors above.
FIGURE 8: Open area that is open to floors above is susceptible to floor hopping.
The problem with this layout is floor hopping. Floor hopping is when the blue dot will show the user on Level 2, when they’re physically on level 1. This happens, if the mobile device has a direct line of sight or is able to hear a Beacon from the other floors.
Use the following techniques to avoid floor hopping in multi-level open areas:
- Place the Beacon with the front facing away from the open area.
- Face the Beacons into the hallway or inner open area.
- Use physical barriers to attenuate Beacon signals.
FIGURE 9: To minimize floor hopping on the main floor, place Beacons facing downwards or under furniture. On upper floors, use physical barriers to attenuate signal and reduce line of sight to the open area.
FIGURE 10: Example of Beacon placements for all levels susceptible to floor hopping.
Specific Architectural Features
This section addresses common issues when dealing with specific architectural features.
Stadiums have been the most challenging venue when it comes to Beacon placement. The factors that have impacted Beacon deployments are:
- wide-open area with direct line of sight to multiple levels.
- limited locations for Beacons placement.
- strict aesthetic requirements.
FIGURE 11: A stadium has wide-open areas with direct line of sight to multiple levels. Minimize Beacon signal bleed through and line of sight to avoid floor hopping.
Even with all these challenges, the same techniques for avoiding floor hopping still apply.
Here some lessons learned from the deployment at a football stadium.
FIGURE 12: The minimized line of sight caused signal to bleed to the level above resulting in floor hopping.
FIGURE 13: Beacons place in direct line of sight to elevated walkways will cause the blue dot to floor hop.
Beacons aren’t usually placed in stairways, but stairwells may be an exception. Stairwells can often be an extension of the map level, but are often cut off by a set of doors. Placing a location Beacon in the stairwell by the door may be useful to reduce the app’s map transition time.
For example, a user enters the stairwell on level 1 and climbs the stairs to level 2. As the user approaches the entry way to level 2, the map will load and by the time the user is in the hallway of level 2, the map will be ready for use.
FIGURE 14: Beacons placed in stairwells helps to reduce map transition delays.
Don’t place location Beacons inside elevators. Each Beacon can only be associated with a single map level.
For example, let’s say the Beacon is placed on the level 1 map and the physical beacon is placed inside the elevator. If the user on level 7 is using turn-by-turn directions to a room on level 5, when the user enters the elevator, the map will transition to level 1 and instruct the user to take the elevator up to level 5, instead of down to level 5.
Location Beacons can only have a one-to-one association with maps, therefore, don’t place them in elevators.
Indoor to Outdoor Transitions
Indoor to outdoor transitions may require a section of its own, because it involves a map that is configured to use GPS instead of blue dot and another map that isn’t configured to use GPS. All maps must be in the Meridian Editor. A blue dot is shown on the Meridian map when Beacons are used for location. A green dot is shown when GPS is used for location.
For now, this section will only cover beacon placement techniques to ensure a smooth transition from blue dot to green dot.
Only configure a map to use GPS if GPS is possible, otherwise you won’t get a green dot on the map. Third party maps, such as Google Maps, can’t be used with Meridian location services.
The same techniques used for indoor to outdoor are the same as those used for multi-level open areas: minimize signal bleed and eliminate line of sight.
FIGURE 15: At the building exits, minimize signal bleed and line of sight to outside by placing the Beacons inside the doorway, facing into the building.