The world's largest directory of proximity companies, Proximity.Directory, released its Q2 2017 report, which takes information from a plethora of Proximity Solution Providers (PSPs). All in all, 400 PSPs from 55 countries participated in the report, which uncover some of the latest facts and figures about location data. In particular, this report happened to delve into trends in asset tracking, which doesn't sound sexy but is actually a major factor in the evolution of industries as diverse as tourism, mining, and healthcare.

Here are some mind-blowing observations from the report:

#1: Hospitals can save hundreds of thousands dollars a year with an immediate ROI of 275%.

"Tracking the physical location of people and assets has some critical real life applications in many industries where accurate and timely location of moving objects is crucial for achieving the best results," explains Thomas Walle, the co-founder and CEO of Unacast, the company behind the directory. Proximity technologies, Walle explains are no longer relegated to the world of retail marketing alone; more and more industries are realizing that proximity data can help improve operational efficiencies.

Case in point: the estimates indicate that hospitals will purchase 10 to 20 percent more portable equipment than they actually require for operational needs. Hospitals that invest in an asset tracking system, so they don't have to buy as many expensive IV pumps in the first place, should be able to easily earn a 275 % ROI (return on investment). Moreover, that's with an immediate payback time.

#2: Over 15 million sensors have been registered around the world.

As of Q2 2017, 15,176,500 sensors have been registered at Proximity.Directory. Of the PSPs registered, 40% are located in Europe; 39% in North America (the United States and Canada), and 12% in the Asia Pacific region. Europe and North America's apparent dominance of the market is mostly due to fact that retailers in those regions have omnichannel marketing strategies that are more active than those elsewhere, although the average number of PSPs per European country is six.

#3: Wi-Fi sensors are seeing 25x growth year over year.

The number of Wi-Fi sensors in use around the world has increased more than 25-fold, compared to the same period last year (Q2 2016). Meanwhile, the number of beacons has increased by 1.7 times, although the number of NFC (near-field communication) sensors has remained relatively constant.

#4: iBeacon is supported by 87% of the industry.

While iBeacon is supported by nearly 9 out of 10 PSPs, Google's Eddystone standard is not out of the race yet, as it is currently supported by 56% of the proximity industry. As the report notes, most PSPs choose not to work exclusively with one or the other as some protocols might work better with certain use cases than others. At any rate, it looks as though Apple and Google will remain the frontrunners of the beacon protocol industry, no doubt due to the influence both companies have over the mobile industry.

#5: 24 million articles of luggage were lost in 2016 due to poor location tracking.

Because I myself have been the victim of an airline losing (or misplacing) my luggage far too often while traveling for Firebrand Group, this statistic doesn't surprise me as much as it might surprise others. Of the over 24 million pieces of baggage that were lost in 2016 alone, over 1 million have not yet been recovered -- more proof of the decreasing standard of airline travel. Nevertheless, in an effort to combat one of the biggest frustrations of traveling, Samsonite teamed up with In The Pocket to introduce Track&Go, a suitcase with a Bluetooth beacon located inside.

In order to activate the beacon, the owner of the suitcase has to register it by using the Travlr app on his or her smartphone. This then allows them to check the location of the suitcase, provided it's within 70 meters, and see whether it's moving closer to or away from them. If, heaven forfend, the luggage goes missing, the owner can flag it as lost on the app. That's where the cool part comes in: once the luggage has been identified as being lost, Travlr will use its user base -- other luggage owners with the app installed and Bluetooth and location services active on their smartphones -- to see whether they can pick up any signals from the lost suitcase. If someone's phone picks up the EID (ephemeral ID) being emitted from the luggage, it automatically triggers a notification detailing the time and location of the suitcase that is sent only to the suitcase's owner.

The Track&Go suitcases are not yet on the market, but once they are, the luggage industry will be yet another industry to be transformed by proximity and location data. Is your industry next?

Published on: Aug 31, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of