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How can you ensure everyone on your Wi-Fi network has a strong signal?
In a residential setting, this is relatively straightforward: Placing a router in a high, unobstructed place and connecting it to other base stations can help maintain excellent Wi-Fi access when moving around the premises. But in people-rich and obstruction-laden environments such as school campuses, hotels, and convention centers — where walking distances are much longer — a managed Wi-Fi network is typically necessary for providing consistent and scalable wireless internet access via a common SSID.
Managed Wi-Fi is a managed service offering, through which a third-party provider like Telesystem designs, installs, monitors, and maintains a Wi-Fi network for a customer. For organizations that need it, the purpose of a managed Wi-Fi solution is to provide fast, reliable, and secure wireless network connectivity with minimal complexity or cost. Both small businesses and enterprises can benefit from this managed network service.
Instead of setting up access points (APs) and handling the continuous network monitoring and various technical upgrades required, the customer entrusts all of those tasks and many others to the managed service provider. This provider has cloud-based infrastructure that enables deep visibility into the Wi-Fi network and scalable management of its APs.
Organizations with managed Wi-Fi solutions benefit from:
Moreover, as Wi-Fi becomes faster and more capable of supporting numerous devices simultaneously — Wi-Fi 6 is notable for how it manages simultaneous connections — organizations are keen to collect more analytics on how and where people are using their connected devices.
Cisco has estimated that by 2022, Wi-Fi will represent over half of all IP traffic. Wi-Fi network analytics help translate this large and growing stream of traffic into actionable insights on how to improve the entire Wi-Fi experience across a customer’s venue(s).
Telesystem offers Wi-Fi Engagement and Analytics as an add-on to an existing managed Wi-Fi solution. Let’s look at how it works as well as its common use cases.
The Telesystem Wi-Fi Engagement and Analytics offering is cloud-based software that aggregates and displays behavioral and demographic information about Wi-Fi usage patterns across a managed Wi-Fi network. It can collect in real-time a variety of data points from connected devices, including:
Using this information, the Wi-Fi analytics solution can paint a detailed picture of what an organization’s managed Wi-Fi service user population looks like. In turn, the company can use these details to refine anything from its marketing strategy to how it plans its in-person events. For example, a heatmap produced by the analytics platform might show the areas of a floorplan where connected devices and therefore guests tended to dwell the most.
On a technical level, the solution relies on the communication process between devices and the managed Wi-Fi network.
When connected to the managed Wi-Fi service — and even when nearby and not connected to it — devices like smartphones and tablets send probe requests and IEEE 802.11 data frames to APs. These transmissions are essential for finding and displaying available wireless networks and then connecting to them.
The solution can then estimate device locations by assessing the signal strength metadata embedded in these requests and data frames. MAC addresses are de-identified in the process. Location data and the presence signatures of different APs get aggregated by the cloud-based solution controller and can be used to show, for example, the relative shares of passersby and actual visitors in a retail environment.
The analytics platform can geofence a particular area to serve as a reference point for this segmentation, with a small “visitor area” perimeter within a larger “passerby area,” corresponding to the location of the store’s products and exterior, respectively. Device-by-device signal strength and dwell time can both be measured to understand traffic flows in such an environment. Such movement intelligence shows:
Overall, the real-time intelligence and aggregation of an analytics platform open up a variety of use cases for how the resulting data — which can be conveniently visualized in graphs and reports — can be applied across marketing, operations, and customer service activities.
Telesystem’s Wi-Fi Engagement and Analytics platform collects device data from the underlying managed Wi-Fi network and securely packages it up into in-depth formats such as heatmaps, dotted maps, footfalls, and zone flows. Working from these visualizations, decision-makers can pursue use cases including but not limited to:
Location data from the managed Wi-Fi service can help track occupancy levels (which are capped by a fire code) and monitor for safety risks emerging in real time. Subsequent related actions might entail controlling automated door access and traffic flows or deploying additional staff.
Wi-Fi analytics can be integrated into a CRM platform to improve the quality of someone's contact information. With this more refined CRM data, business and marketing teams are better equipped to customize their campaigns to customer’s interests. Detailed profiles can be built out for each customer to make marketing more effective overall and increase resulting conversions.
How are visitors moving around a space? Are there are any bottlenecks or areas that seem to have poor wireless network connectivity? Answering these questions is easier with Wi-Fi analytics that reveal patterns of foot traffic. Reports may highlight the need for more staffing in a particular venue to adequate server customers, support the business and keep the space clean.
The Telesystem Wi-Fi Engagement and Analytics platform lets organizations easily compare data trends from different marketing initiatives. Visualizations help show how capture rate, visitor and customer activity, and connectivity levels changed in response to strategies. KPIs like average spend per visit or per store can also be compared.
Similar to how Google Maps and Apple Maps enable precise outdoor directions, Telesystem’s Wi-Fi analytics platform supports indoor wayfinding through proprietary blue dot technology. This interacts with signals from Wi-Fi network APs, Bluetooth hardware and metal building structures. Positioning is accurate within 1.5 meters and users gain access to: