02 – Situm Platform features

This section summarizes the most important Situm Platform features.

Positioning #

Simple indoor & outdoor positioning with building & floor detection and 3D orientation #

Situm is an universal geolocation engine. This means that it works both in indoor and outdoor spaces, anywhere in the world, always providing the best possible position.

Situm provides:

  1. The absolute position of the smartphone in the world (latitude-longitude in EPSG3857:WSG84).
  2. The relative position within the venue: building identifier, floor identifier, X-Y coordinates (in meters from the bottom-left corner of the floor’s floorplan).
  3. The 2D & 3D orientation of the device around its 3 axis: bearing, pitch and roll.

Under the hood, Situm is able to detect whether the user is indoors (in a building configured with Situm Indoor Positioning) or outdoors (anywhere else in the world).

  1. If outdoors, Situm uses the GPS information to determine the location of the user.
  2. If indoors, Situm can detect the specific Situm building where the user is, transitioning smoothly from indoors to outdoors (and viceversa), and between buildings, as the user moves. Situm is also able to determine the floor where the user is within a Situm-configured building, even if the user changes floors.

Situm does all this automatically: it just tells you where the user is without much effort on your side! Plain and simple.

Last but not least, Situm provides the orientation of the devices around its 3 axis (bearing, pitch, roll). This is useful to:

  1. Build 2D navigation apps, where the bearing is represented as an arrow on top of a floorplan).
  2. Build Augmented Reality apps, where the user orientation can be displayed on top of the images captured by the smartphone image.

Calibration (fingerprinting) based #

Indoor positioning is just like a GPS, but for indoors. Just as the GPS leverages on the signals of a group of satellites orbiting around the Earth, Situm indoor positioning uses the signals present in today’s buildings, such as Bluetooth from BLE beacons and WiFi from Access Points. But, contrary to the GPS, Situm does not need to know where the BLE beacons or WiFi APs are: we just need to know their signal maps across the environment.

In order to configure Situm in a building, an operator will have to upload the building floorplans to Situm Dashboard. After that, he/she will need to perform a calibration process with our app Situm Mapping Tool: basically, he/she will need to walk around, pinpointing where he/she is every few seconds / meters, while the app gathers & georeferences the BLE and WiFi signals all across the environment.

Using our app Situm Mapping Tool, you can calibrate a building just by walking around and pinpointing where you are.

From these calibrations, our AI algorithms create the WiFi & BLE signal maps of the venue, available to every smartphone app that integrates Situm SDK (with the right credentials). Situm then can provide indoor geolocation in the calibrated areas. In order to provide indoor & outdoor geolocation, Situm compares the signals received by the smartphone with those expected from the signal maps, and fuse this information with the user’s movement as explained in the next section.

High accuracy thanks to sensor fusion #

In addition to WiFi & BLE signals (see previous section), Situm leverages on other sensors such as the smartphone accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and barometer, in order to accurately estimate if the user moves, how much, in which direction and whether he/she is changing floors.

Taking into account the areas that have been calibrated, we build map constraints: some user trajectories are possible, others are just impossible taking into account the venue topology. Situm combines all this information and produces very accurate indoor positioning estimations:

  1. 1-3 meters of average positioning accuracy.
  2. <15 degrees of average orientation accuracy.
  3. 5-10 seconds to change floors in most occasions.

Requires little infrastructure investment (or none at all!) #

Situm can use all the infrastructure that is already present in the building (WiFI Access Points & BLE beacons). Many times, we don’t require you to install any new hardware. If we do, it usually involves deploying a low density of BLE beacons (approximately a 10% of what other indoor positioning systems require). To give you a quick approximate reference: <50 for a typical office, <100 for a mid-sized hospital, <200 for a big shopping mall and a few hundreds for a big airport. The exact number depends on the exact size of the venue.

Knowing if you need to install new beacons is easy, depends on your OS and use case

iOS #

If you want to use Situm on iOS, you will need to deploy a few beacons. This happens because iOS doesn’t allow apps to scan WiFis. Therefore, only BLE scanning is allowed as an indoor positioning source.

Android #

If, however, you only want to use Situm on Android for…

  1. Wayfinding. You will need to deploy a few beacons. From Android 9 onwards, a limitation called WiFi Throttling constrains the frequency of WiFi scanning to 1 data point every 30 seconds. WiFi-only wayfinding will work (more or less), but the accuracy and responsiveness will be far from ideal.
  2. Tracking. Chances are you will not need any beacon at all. This is because WiFi Throttling can be disabled on Android 10 and superior versions. The procedure to disable this limitation is a bit complex for the average user (not an option in wayfinding apps), but can be easily performed by a professional worker. Therefore, tracking in Android can be used in tracking apps just by using the WiFi networks (or at most, placing a beacon here and there in shadow areas).

Offline mode #

Also known as in-phone computing, Situm’s algorithms have been optimized so that they can be computed in the phone without requiring constant internet connection (and with a very low batery footprint).

Situm first downloads the relevant information from Situm cloud. After that, connectivity with the cloud is no longer needed to compute geolocations: we can provide wayfinding and tracking even in areas without data connectivity (e.g. in underground parkings). When the connectivity is restored, all the computed geolocations are uploaded automatically to Situm cloud (so geoanalytic reports can be computed later on).

Offline mode also works for cartography: users will be able to review maps, search for points of interest or compute the shortest route to a destination without needing continuous internet connectivity.

Battle-tested for tracking #

Most indoor positioning technologies are either suited for wayfinding or tracking applications, but not both. Situm is an exception, since it combines the accuracy & robustness required in wayfinding applications with other features that make it ideal for tracking use cases.

First of all, Situm works in the hand and in the pocket. Situm performs at its best when the user carries the phone in the hand while facing forward (with the screen looking upwards). This is the typical way of carrying the phone while using a wayfinding app. But Situm also works very well when the phone is in carried in ways typical of tracking use cases: in the pocket, in a backpack, etc.

Second, Situm consumes little battery and has different battery consumption profiles. The battery of an smartphone running Situm continuously typically lasts over 8 hours. By enabling battery saving configurations, battery may last up to 24 hours or more, depending on the smartphone.

Finally, Situm can be continuosly executed in foreground and background, both in Android and iOS (foreground means that the app is visible to the user and background that the app is minimized or the smartphone is blocked). This has been battle tested to ensure that geolocation can be computed at all times even if the user does not interact with the smartphone:

  • In Android, tracking applications can be executed as a Foreground Service as described here.
  • In iOS, tracking applications can also be executed provided that the user & the Apple Store grant the appropriate background execution permissions (more details here). An alternative to the Apple Store is private app distribution.

Maps and routes #

A (very) simple and (very) powerful cartography management system #

Indoor positioning is great. But surely you will want, at some point, to represent this location on top of a floorplan, allow your users to find their favourite places, and guide them in a visual way they can understand. Sure enough, you will also want to extract map-based reports (geoanalytics).

This is why Situm provides a full-featured indoor cartography management system. You will be able to:

  1. Create your buildings, georeference them, and upload a floorplan for each floor.
  2. Create the points of interest or POIs of your venue. This way, your users will be able to easily find places such as shops in a shopping mall or boarding gates in an airport.
  3. Define geofences, polygons that represent important areas. You can use geofences to send geomarketing notifications (e.g. when an user passes by a certain store) or to extract capacity KPIs (e.g. knowing the number of persons on a certain room in a period of time).

You can also associate rich information to these elements, such as their name, a description (that may include text, images and videos), a category, and custom-fields.

Floorplan management menu
POI management menu
Geofence management menu
Path management menu

Raster & tiles floorplans #

Floorplans provide a visual representation of each floor, so the users can know where they are, their way around, and have a sense of the building elements at a glance. Situm supports two kinds of floorplans: raster floorplans and tiled floorplans.

Raster floorplans are just PNG/JPEG images. They are effective because they can be easily extracted from PDF or CAD files and edited standard image edition software: drawing new spaces, changing colours to match a certain palette… Then, it’s just a matter of uploading & georeferencing them with Situm Dashboard, and they’ll be ready to use across all Situm components.

Considering their simplicity & flexibility, raster floorplans are great for small to min-sized floorplans. For bigger venues, they have one important restriction: their resolution is upper limited to 4092×4092 pixels. If your building’s floorplans are bigger than, say 500×500 meters, the image resolution may not be enough and small details will not be displayed correctly (e.g. they will be blurred out or excessively pixelated).  

For these kinds of buildings, Situm also supports tiled floorplans. Raster tiles are just a way of dividing & displaying high-resolution images very efficiently. At each zoom level, the image is divided on a set of squared areas or tiles: all tiles have the same resolution (independently of the zoom level), which guarantees a constant real-size / image-resolution ratio on each tile.   This allows to display arbitrarily large venues such as big airports & hospitals, huge shopping malls, and even wide outdoor venues such as university & corporate campuses, theme parks or race tracks. 

Raster floorplans are the default mode operating in Situm Dashboard, while raster tiles are available upon demand (we’ll help you to set them up).

Shortest routes, accessible routes, custom routes #

Situm allows you to define all the indoor paths in a venue with a simple & intuitive route editor. Basically, paths are a set of nodes and links, where the links represent that there is a passable path between two nodes. These paths are used by Situm to compute the routes that guide users in wayfinding apps.

Situm can compute three main kinds of routes:

  • Shortest route. We compute the shortest walking distance from a point A to a point B, while trying to minimize the number of floor changes involved.
  • Accessible route. A special kind of shortest route, but that avoids non-accessible paths (e.g. stairs).
  • Customized route. Situm Dashboard allows you to mark each path with special tags that you can define, and avoid / prioritize paths marked with that tag. For instance, you may tag some paths as “staff-only”, and then direct your visitors through routes that avoid them (and your employees through routes that prioritize them).

Alongside the route, Situm computes the distance left to the destination and the estimated time that the user will need to get there.

Turn-by-turn indications #

Routes are great if you want to represent them on top of a floorplan. Additionally, you may also want to provide your users with text & voice indications to help them navigate the building (specifically, for those with visual difficulties).

With each route, Situm generates the series of indications that will help the user to advance in the route. Indications are nothing but the action that the user must perform in order to advance (e.g. “go ahead for 20 meters”, “turn around”, etc.). Not only that, but Situm is also able to follow the user while he/she moves forward to display the appropriate indication at the right time.

Last but not least, Situm textual indications can be translated to voice instructions using the standard Android and iOS text-to-speech tools.

Automatic re-routing #

Situm is constantly checking whether the user is following the desired route and, otherwise, computes a new one.

One such situation is when an user goes out the route that he/she is following, or when he/she is not heading in the advancement direction of the route.  Situm detects these situations and recomputes the new route and/or indications automatically.  

The user is following the shortest route but…

… he/she turns around and starts walking in an opposite direction, so Situm indicates to “Turn around” …

… and after a while, a new shortest route is recomputed

Ready-to-build mobile & web apps #

Developers can access all this cartography information (buildings, floorplans, POIs, geofences and routes) using our mobile & web SDKs.

Our UI component Situm WYF provides a plug-and-play navigation interface that you can embed directly into your native Android, native iOS, Cordova and Capacitor apps. Among other functionalities, this component shows the cartography of your building, implements a floor selector and a POI search bar, computes & shows the geolocation of the user and provides turn-by-turn indications (text & voice) out of the box. If you want, you can test it using our Situm Mapping Tool app (which uses Situm WYF underneath).

If you are one of those who want to build the whole navigation interface from scratch: we got you covered. We also provide mobile SDKs available for native Android, native iOS, Cordova, Capacitor and React Native. These SDKs will allow you to access all the data, including geolocation (indoor & outdoor), cartography (floorplans, POIs…), routes and turn-by-turn indications. Using this data, you will be able to build your own navigation interface (if you need inspiration, you may take a look at Situm Mapping Tool).

Finally, our REST API and JS SDK will allow you to build geospatial web applications leveraging on Situm cartography without much effort. You will be able to create, read, update and delete Situm cartography elements such as floorplans, points of interest and geofences. With this library, you will also be able to retrieve geospatial data such as the real-time geolocations of the users in your building. This library is typically used to build shop directories for shopping malls webpages, floorplan navigators for digital kiosks in hospitals and airports, and even real-time dashboards showing the current capacity of different areas of a smart campus or museum, to name just a few.

Geoanalytics & Real-Time tracking #

Real-time tracking: see where everybody is at a glance #

Each second, Situm computes the geolocation of the smartphone & sends it to Situm Platform. Situm Platform stores these geolocations (so later we can compute geoanalytics), but it also shows them in our Real-Time panel.

Therefore, you will be able to see where everybody is in real-time very easily!

The Real-Time panel allows you to see the location of each user at a glance

Lots of readily available reports #

Situm Dashboard implements the most common indoor geoanalytics reports out of the box. You will be able to retrieve, among others:

  1. Heatmaps: to view at a glance where people spend more time in your building.
  2. Trajectories with play&pause controls: to know exactly how users move around your building
  3. Stay times on geofence: to know exactly how much time each user spends in each area of the building.
  4. Patrol KPIs: to easily monitor the mobility work performed by your task force (e.g. whether a surveillance patrol has been completed).
  5. and more! Unique of users per period of time and building/floor, generated alarms, etc.
Heatmaps represent the density of geolocations, the popularity of each area

Play & pause trajectories let you know exactly how an user moved within your venue at each point in time

Stay times on geofence lets you know exactly the distribution of time across geofences of different users
With patrol KPIs it’s very easy to audit the work performed by mobility teams

API-first for integration with BI platforms #

Whether you are interested in real-time tracking, consuming raw geolocation data or integrating readily-available reports: we got you covered. Situm is an API-first company, so everything is exposed through APIs so you can integrate all this data within your software or 3rd party platforms (usually, Business Intelligence platforms where you can perform your own analysis).

Easy to extend to new geoanalytics use cases #

Don’t you find the report you want? No problem.

We understand that every business has different problems & needs, so each one might need different reports (or tailoring an existing report a little bit). We built our platform so that it’s very easy to integrate with BI tools (thanks to our REST APIs), but also easy to evolve into new reports & data processing capabilities.

Let us know at support@situm.com and we will help you.

Billions of geolocations yet blazing fast reports (and forever-storage)
#

We use Tinybird as the core of our analytics engine. We are able to ingest & store billions of geolocations without any issue at all, computing all kinds of reports within seconds, and even provide forever-storage if you need it.

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