The Value of Location Sharing in a Mobile First World

By Tim Vanevenhoven, Blog Contributor
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Have you ever been at a large conference and looked for your manager to introduce an important customer, but couldn't find her? Maybe you sent a text, but her ringer was off. Maybe she couldn't hear the ringer over the noise of the crowd.

Have you ever tried to find your significant other at a large sporting event? Or tried to locate your friend for a quick coffee at the airport, but now he's nowhere to be seen?  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to find a sales associate when you have a product question?

Nearly everyone carries a phone with them all the time, but that doesn't necessarily make them easy to find. Even with a flurry of texts and calls, it's easy to lose someone in a crowd, especially in multi-floor venues with poor or non-existent GPS access. There really hasn't been a good way to locate people quickly and easily. Until now.

Location Sharing is a unique people-finding tool available on the Meridian Mobile App Platform.  Location Sharing helps people find each other using their mobile phone.  It's a simple add to a mobile application via the Meridian AppMaker or the Meridian SDK.


Meridian AppMaker is the component of the Meridian Mobile App Platform that enables non-developers to create branded iOS and Android apps that can include location sharing. Using AppMaker, organizations can implement a "Find my Friends" feature for their location. (Aruba Beacons in location mode are required for this feature.)

To protect user privacy, "Find my Friends" is an opt-in feature. You only share your location with people you choose.  The scope of the sharing only covers the mapped area inside of that app.  For example, at a trade show, if you choose to share your location with a friend during the show, they can only see your location when you're on the show floor, but not during dinner at a nearby restaurant.

As part of the complete Mobile First solution, including BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), Meridian's Location Sharing is integrated with the Aruba ClearPass product line.  BYOD users who connect to the Wi-Fi network via Aruba ClearPass can log into their mobile app and don't need to create a new profile – their profile is ready to go!

The location sharing feature can be further extended by custom mobile app developers using the Meridian Android and iOS Software Development Kit (SDK).  For example, custom app features such as "Find the nearest sales associate" in a retail store, "Find the nearest volunteer" in a museum, or "Find the nearest manager" on the manufacturing floor are all possible.  Each of these could be built today on top of the existing capabilities provided by the Meridian SDK.  The sky's the limit for people-finding applications!

As more venues provide specific mobile apps for their visitors, the competition to differentiate has raised the bar.  The ability to easily locate a friend or associate is one more tool that provides compelling value to the mobile user visiting your location or venue.  Location sharing can be combined with best-in-class wayfinding to provide mobile users a powerful application that will keep them engaged and coming back to a venue.

For years, Meridian has been able to help mobile users find places of interest within a building or venue.  Now this can be extended to include finding people of interest. Location sharing is one part of the complete Aruba Mobile First solution that includes secure guest access, BYOD support, Wi-Fi, analytics, and best-in-class wayfinding.  This proven solution allows large public venues like airports, museums, and stadiums the opportunity to engage visitors in useful and exciting new ways.

Tim Vanevenhoven is senior solutions marketing manager for mobile engagement at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.