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Geofencing definition

Geofencing is a technology that creates virtual boundaries in real-world areas using GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, or cellular data. It allows the software to trigger a pre-defined action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits these areas.

See also: GPS jamming

How geofencing works

  • Setting the boundaries. The first thing to do if you want to use geofencing is to set the perimeter around a specific location. Geofencing apps usually have built-in mapping functions where users can draw lines around the area they want to monitor.
  • Picking the triggering action. Decide what happens when a device with a GPS or RFID tag enters or exits the geofenced area. It could be a notification, an alert, an app action, or even a command to a device — like turning up the heating or disabling the alarm system.
  • Application. Geofencing has many use cases. For example, businesses can use it to send promotional notifications to customers near a store, employers can use it to monitor attendance in a work area, and you can use it for home automation systems to activate smart home devices when someone arrives or leaves.

Geofencing disadvantages

For geofencing to work, the targeted devices must have location services switched on and be able to connect to GPS, Wi-Fi, or mobile networks. The precision of geofencing depends largely on the quality and strength of these connections.

Geofencing applications usually collect location data, which raises privacy concerns. Users typically need to grant permission for apps to access a lot of their data, and if that information is not collected and stored securely, it could lead to cyberattacks or real-life crimes like theft.