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Aruba Networks Location Services: Part One

Are you justified in investing in a new WiFi infrastructure? Thinking of a low-cost “as long as it works” solution? What if you could get a return on at least some of these investments? Or if you completely turned your business around and use data collected from wireless networks for business purposes?

Aruba answers all of these questions by giving you advanced location services and analytics solutions – to be deployed in the cloud or on-premise.

What is Aruba ALE and how does it work?

Analytics & Location Engine (abbreviated ALE) is a platform that provides location services and contextual data processing for mobile clients using a wireless 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi (802.11b/g/n/ac) signal. ALE collects data on all nearby WiFi clients “seen” by a relevant infrastructure’s WLAN network, whether they are connected to that network or not. These data are processed by ALE and delivered to third-party systems on the application level in a format such systems can access and read – via the Application Programming Interface (API).

Technically speaking, ALE as a system is actually a middleware platform located in the services section of a logic diagram between the network and application layer:

 

 

 

 

All the data collected by ALE from the lower network segment can be made available via the API to a higher application layer where various analytical tools can leverage and further process these data for various purposes.

Contextual data collected by the ALE system enable external (3rd-party) applications to utilize information on users, mobile devices, and online apps, regardless of whether they are located in a private enterprise (shopping malls, catering facilities) or in public areas such as city squares, streets, promenades, museums and other exterior or interior public places of interest.

 

How can ALE help me improve my business?

Insights into online customer behavior gathered by analyzing traffic patterns – including most frequently visited points and places of interest, most used paths and the frequency of visits to a particular location – can be utilized for business intelligence and decision-making purposes by correlating with other data sources such as various sensors, user databases, Point-Of-Sales (POS) systems, CRM applications, etc.

These ALE functionalities help enterprises optimize business premises (such as shopping malls), assess the efficiency of marketing activities, and offer personalized access and next-level customer experience to the end user or employee, while increasing overall operating performance of their businesses.

3rd party analytics and data overview apps as well as so-called big data mining services analyze traffic flows and patterns and aggregate them in various loyalty databases to facilitate a better understanding of user behavior. Within such analytical architecture, ALE collects as much data as possible from the wireless network and delivers relevant data to a variety of applications for analysis. There are two main types of content that can be retrieved from the ALE system: Presence feed – indicates whether a particular device is within a WLAN range, and Events feed that records when WiFi devices enter, pass through or leave a predefined (so-called geofenced) area.

 

 

Some users need to understand what types of devices are entering their premises and ALE provides them with information on the manufacturer, model, operating system, IP and MAC addresses, usernames (if this type of authentication is used on the network), destination URLs, and other data.

In addition, ALE enables, empowers, and supplements business intelligence for the purposes of enhancing customer experience and achieving set sales results, as well as other corporate goals. As an example, traffic monitoring and analysis of client presence in specific areas can assist stores in making decisions on the necessary increase or decrease of sales power during increased (or decreased) density of mobile customers. For example, analysis of customer density in specific areas can help airports to optimize visitors’ movement paths in order to reduce crowding and shorten queues.

 

What about privacy protection?

Someone will certainly pose the following question: “Am I in violation of GDPR by using this system?” IT industry is well aware of how sensitive private data can be, and so is Aruba. By default, all personal client data collected by ALE are anonymous; including usernames, IP and MAC addresses, and so on. In that sense, all Aruba products are “GDPR compliant”.

However, depending on the design of the relevant solution, there’s a possibility that personal and sensitive data may be collected, so it is strongly recommended to check with regulatory authorities what statutory provisions apply to the protection of personal data and to obtain consent from the end user (WiFi client) and ensure that all required conditions and provisions are met before collecting and analyzing any data from public areas.

Who should use this solution?

There is almost no branch of modern industry that cannot utilize location services in one way or the other. Aruba Networks Location Services based on ALE are ideal for shopping malls, hospitals, squares, promenades, hotels, stadiums, sports halls, faculties, conference centers and business premises… basically any place where people tend to gather.

 

 

All data collected by ALE from the lower network layer can be made available via the API to a higher application layer where numerous 3rd-party tools can leverage and further process these data for various purposes. Some of the major Aruba partners handling the analysis and display of these data come from different industries. Companies such as Skyfii, RetailNext, ShopperTrack and Walkbase specialize in analyzing the attendance, presence, and behavior of customers in stores and catering facilities, others like Software AG provide financial and hospitality services, while for example, Rifinity leverages predictive analysis and workspace optimization capabilities of the ALE system in the business intelligence segment.

Have any questions? Would you like to set up a demonstration, presentation or meeting? Contact us!

 

 

 

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