Tracking people can be a minefield of technical, ethical, and legal considerations. Here are some practical considerations to help you get started and ensure your people tracking is compliant and successful.
Choice of People Tracking Technology
Radio-based location tracking is a popular choice for indoor positioning systems. However, the human body absorbs and reflects radio waves making RF location tracking tags on people challenging to use.
Radio-based asset tracking technologies use radio frequencies over a broad spectrum, from Very Low Frequency (3-30 Khz) to Ultra High Frequency (30-300 MHz).
Asset tracking technologies like RFID typically use low-frequency radio waves (125 to 300 kHz). While low-frequency radio waves are absorbed less by the human body and perform better in the presence of metal, they have a shorter signal range and slower reading speed. As a result, low-frequency radio waves are not typically used in people tracking applications where the real-time location of people is needed at all times.
433 MHz Active RFID tags are a popular choice for people tracking applications, particularly for security purposes. Although not very precise in pinpointing locations, these tags have a range of up to 500m and are much less sensitive to blocking and distortion.
UWB RTLS operates on the higher end of the radio spectrum. UWB tags have a long signal range and fast reading speed. Even though UWB transmitters operate in the 6 to 8 GHz frequency range – a frequency band that is absorbed and blocked by the human body – UWB is a popular choice where accurate indoor people tracking is required.
Accurate and precise people tracking using UWB technology is achieved by using an infrastructure approach; placing a network of UWB receivers across a facility and smartly placing transmitters on people.
When it comes to the tag size, smaller and lighter is better. People tracking tags should be small enough to be easily and discreetly placed on a person and light enough, so the tag does not cause discomfort or an ergonomic hazard to the wearer.
RTLS tag size varies depending on the underlying technology. Passive RFID tags and smaller and lighter (often a simple label), whereas UWB tags are slightly larger and contain a battery.
Proper tag placement depends on the tag technology and the use case. Different tag types require different tag placement strategies.
RFID tags can be worn on wristbands and safety vests. UWB tags work better if they have a direct line of sight with the receivers. Wristbands and hardhat attachments are popular tag placements for UWB tags. As some UWB tags are waterproof, they can also be sewn into clothing.
When it comes to tag placement, ergonomics should be taken into consideration. The tag should not cause discomfort or harm the safety of the tag wearer. For example, a lanyard mounting may be inappropriate in many industrial settings where cords can be caught in machinery, or in case of a fall or impact, the tag should not cause injury due to its placement.
Legal, Privacy, and Regulatory Considerations
People tracking systems raise legal, privacy, and compliance considerations. Organisations must consider local data protection laws when collecting, storing, and managing data. In some regions, organisations must obtain explicit consent from individuals before tracking them and their activities.
Organisations must ensure that employees know the people tracking system, its purpose, and the extent of the data held about an individual. Organisations should inform employees of their right to privacy and the intended use of the data collected when using a people tracking system.
Personally identifiable information should not be stored or shared with third parties. Selecting a location data platform that securely stores and collects the data, and allows controls over access to authorised personnel, groups, or types of data is important.
In addition to privacy considerations, people tracking systems must comply with data privacy laws such as GDPR. Privacy laws vary from country to country and should be considered when implementing a people-tracking system.
Radio-based tracking systems must also adhere to local radio frequency laws and emission norms.
We have barely scratched the surface of the many considerations when implementing a people-tracking system. Each organization needs to consider its specific use case and consult with an expert for compliance and legal advice.
People tracking systems offer many advantages, but they also come with unique considerations. The type of technology used, tag size, and placement are important factors to consider when selecting the right solution for an organization’s specific use case. Organizations must carefully consider privacy, legal and regulatory issues when implementing a people-tracking system.
Selecting a vendor such as Ubisense that has the expertise and technology to help implement people-tracking solutions is critical to successful projects. Contact us to discuss how we can help you with your people-tracking requirements.