Directions Magazine (DM): Syniverse’s Location-Based Services solution is a mobile device location aggregator/platform. From what sources do you aggregate position information on a device? Which ones are used, in particular, for indoor positioning?
Lisa Paccione (LP): Syniverse Location-Based Services provide a scalable solution that can work with any mobile device, any GPS or network technology, any mobile operator network, and any enterprise type. Syniverse serves as a location information aggregator that obtains information from multiple sources, including direct connections to operator network infrastructures. In this way, Syniverse aggregates information across operators, technologies and location sources to provide mobile service providers and enterprises with a single Web interface where they can access their customers’ location information.
A majority of the technology that we are implementing today centers around the network-based model of location-based services. One of the key advantages of this is that it provides more accurate indoor positioning, especially when compared to GPS, which has limited penetration inside buildings or any locations where high structures may block a satellite signal. The network method offers superior coverage inside buildings because there are more cell towers than satellites, and the larger number of signals from cell towers provides more ways to overcome potential interference points.
Another advantage is that network location-based services require almost no engagement by an end user to set up and activate – other than opting in for the service. The network method automatically locates a mobile device by identifying the cell towers to which the device is connected. In contrast, for GPS location-based services, users must have a basic knowledge of how to operate a smartphone or tablet. They must find, download and set up an app, and they must keep the app for location-based services active.
Cell tower signals also consistently reach mobile devices in near real time for the network method. The GPS method is not ideal for many location-based services because of the difficulty of establishing location in real time. Even in ideal conditions, there is latency in achieving an approximate location fix with GPS.
DM: How does an enterprise using your service determine which of the positions provided is to be used for a particular application? Said another way, how do they know which one is “best” at a given moment? Does the platform provide any guidance in that area?
LP: Syniverse’s solution simplifies the experience for our enterprise customers by providing a single Web interface through which they can access their end users’ location information. We work together with our customers to help them design and implement policies based on business needs and desired use cases, and then make determinations around prioritization and potential sequences. We also handle the complexities on the back end. This simplifies the process for our customers, which in turn makes things easier for their end users.
DM: The solution is device-agnostic. What does that mean?
LP: Our platform is device- and technology-agnostic, which means the Syniverse solution works with any device, whether it is a GSM or CDMA phone, smartphone or feature phone, GPS-enabled phone or non-GPS-enabled phone. End users are not required to download an application or configure their phone settings in a specific manner, enabling enterprises to send personalized messages in real time, directly to their customers that opt in, based on their location.
DM: The solution sits between an enterprise and the carrier. What extra do you provide the enterprise that the operator does not?
LP: We provide the enterprise a cross-operator solution with a single connection that enhances efficiency and coverage. For example, instead of the enterprise working with just one operator, we handle all of the complexities that accompany connecting with multiple operators. This cuts down on integration time, and the need to develop multiple business relationships. When contracting with a single operator, the enterprise is limited to coverage within that particular operator’s network. Our solution increases efficiency and offers much broader coverage. We also maintain and manage consumer opt-in and opt-out – a critical element to enabling location-based services.
Figure 1: Syniverse’s location in the flow of data between the carrier, enterprise and end-user.
DM: How is the solution priced?
LP: Our solution is a transactional-based business model. We want to drive adoption and success for this channel and believe that if enterprises are able to implement location-based services that deliver value to consumers, it will be a win-win for everyone involved.
DM: Do you have an existing case study/user story you can share about how the solution is saving money/making money for a client?
LP: Our initial findings have been positive within a number of industries, including financial services, retail, and travel and hospitality.
To use financial services as an example, consider if a consumer who is traveling without location-based services tries to make a purchase on her credit card, but gets declined due to a false positive for fraud. This leads to an undesirable customer service experience and risk of the customer using another credit card for her current and future purchases. Using location-based services, we could verify that the customer is in the same place as the actual purchase, and stop this false positive from happening.
Retailers can also use our service to deliver special discount offers to their customers when their mobile devices are detected to be nearby one of their outlets. Travel and hospitality companies can use location-based services to provide tourists with real-time concierge services, messages regarding restaurants and attractions, important local alerts, hotel information, directions, transportation options and maps, all in real time while they are within specific geographic boundaries.