WiFi can be captured and recorded because it travels in all directions from its source. This can be used to discover many facts, including the location and type of the source device. Much more can be learned, but there are legal limitations that need to be considered. Captured data can be automatically uploaded to cloud services for many purposes.
Human presence and movement detection
WiFi and other wireless technology can be used to detect the presence and movement of people. This creates opportunities in security and human care scenarios.
Where a business has people in a waiting area, wireless access to marketing material can provide opportunities.
For example, free WiFi based internet access that must first pass through a marketing webpage can increase sales and raise awareness of brands, products, services, and offers.
A wireless network can quickly cover many users with minimal disruption to an environment. So, it can be useful for temporary networks, especially where there are unknowns such the exact location and number of users, or to overcome a short-term connectivity issue, or for site offices.
Sometimes hotels, clubs, offices, shops, venues, and events prefer WiFi equipment to be hidden from view. Special 'plenum' rated wireless network equipment should be used in these circumstances to ensure good wireless network coverage and to comply with safety regulations.
Difficult and hostile environments
Some environments are dusty - such as many involved in processing raw materials. Some environments are humid or may be wet - such as spas and outdoor events like sporting competitions. Other environments are subject to rapid temperature changes - such as next to doors that open to heated or chilled rooms. There are environmentally sealed versions of WiFi equipment that are suitable for such conditions.
Remote monitoring of assets
Photographs, audio, and video footage can be transmitted wirelessly from distributed and moving staff and equipment, allowing situations to be monitored and recorded remotely. The immediacy of sharing information gathered in this way, and the streamlined access to recordings of the information, simplifies tasks and provides new opportunities. Some WiFi equipment is better able to handle streaming of high data volumes such as from video footage. Moving sources of data that need a continuous connection require particularly sophisticated equipment.
For example, investigations into a problem with a product in a production environment can be shown live to expert decision makers as the need arises, rather than taking recordings back to be uploaded and shared at some future point, or needing the experts to take time out to visit the production environment.
Several wireless network technologies now exist to allow sensor-based monitoring of environments, people, goods, equipment, and processes. These present opportunities to improve efficiency, working environment, the impression made on customers, and to improve compliance with health and safety regulations.
For example, it is possible to wirelessly monitor conditions like temperature, pressure, vibration, humidity, and many others to help optimise process efficiency and reduce labour costs. Health and safety risks can be reduced by replacing people in unpleasant, hazardous, and dangerous environments with wireless sensors. Now continuous monitoring can even take place on large sites outdoors, among crowds, and in hostile environments.
Technologies exist with different characteristics that can be used to allow people, equipment, and goods to be tracked around a facility. The appropriate technology depends on the type of environment and how much information is required.
For example, assets such personnel, equipment, and 'work in process' can be tracked at specific locations for a much lower cost than monitoring their position continuously. By contrast, small movable expensive items of equipment may justify being tracked continuously to help locate them quickly and so keep business running smoothly, but also to help reduce losses.
Some itinerant roles can require access to information while moving - such as technicians like surveyors and stage lighting and sound engineers; educators such as presenters, teachers, and trainers; monitoring and enforcement roles such as security and quality control officers; and managing roles like production manager, site foreman and event organiser. Paper based information can be cumbersome, may not tolerate some environments well, and requires manual intervention to ensure it is up-to-date and complete. If it is not all present and correct work progress can be hindered. It is much better to provide continuous access to the most current information with devices like tablets, mobile phones, laptops, smart watches, and hybrid devices.
For example, a site manager notices a particular job is falling behind schedule. Immediate checks show how many staff should be present and how many are expected in the following days. This enables quick adjustments to staff levels, bringing the job back on schedule.
Tracking the presence near a location of smart phones and wireless enabled cars enables monitoring of the presence of customers. This improves recognition of returning customers and enables new ways of presenting information to customers using technology rather than staff time.
Networks in separate buildings can be connected by a wireless link. These robust private connections are independent of third parties and allow sharing of IT resources such as databases and internet connections. So, they can act to create a larger effective pool of resources and provide better guarantees of some services. Wireless links can often be setup rapidly to help mitigate temporary problems.