30 Apr 2020

Location is not a “Sometimes” Thing

As a leader in location in complex indoor spaces, of course we would say that, but there is something to this concept. For years we have been pontificating about how critical it is in cruise especially, to know where people are while onboard. While most people drift to things like Wayfinding and “Find My Friends,” when they think of location, we have long felt the first and most critical usage was in the event of an emergency. That is why our e-mustering solution, Mobile Assembly Suite, naively reports real-time location for the safety team to leverage in the event of an emergency for ships that are enabled. That said, the true importance of 24/7 location awareness for the ecosystem has never been more clear than right now.

Trust is a big deal. When we look at the aspects of location and more specifically, location tracking, the first thing that comes to mind is that of privacy. For good reasons, guests and crew bristle at the thought of the ship being aware of their location. Were we discussing Centro Ybor, in Tampa or Bourbon Street, in New Orleans, the discussion would be very different. In public spaces, the concerns of privacy and invasions thereof, weigh heavy in when discussing location tracking. However, if one looks at Walt Disney World with their Magic Band® or any number of secure environments, the social contract is necessarily very different. I feel the primary differential (though there are many) is that of the explicit exchange of trust.

When one boards a cruise, the crew’s first and most critical responsibility is to ensure the safety of those aboard their ship. While location can be used for many amazing things like elevated service, democratizing the “rock star” status and more, the fundamental reason for the proper people on board to know where guests and crew are is for safety. That is a reactive position, and an important one. By adding the dimension of health to this equation, the equation can become proactive, and that is where the tables truly turn. No longer does the ship’s medical staff need to wait for a guest to get so bad they check into the Medical Center to find out there is a case of transmissible illness aboard, well after there could have been significant spread and propagation. Instead, leading indicators like temperature can lead the staff to inquire early, in a calm and planful way, ideally to curb issues before they become more serious.

We realize there is no “One Size Fits All,” approach to this as none of the technology to enable it is free. Always active and pervasive location technology takes time to deploy and can be perceived as expensive. In the next entry to this series, I will explain more about our approach to location (and proximity) and why you should care.


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