User Tracking is what it says on the metaphorical tin. It’s about tracking a user's location. That’s it, this is the blog. Thanks for reading.
It’s more than that, though. To us, user tracking is about using location data for a plethora of reasons related to family and friends, worksite monitoring, salesforce and the elderly. In all those areas, it’s about ensuring safety, privacy, speed, accuracy, and battery efficient location tracking.
This guide is a complete rundown on what user tracking is. We’ll be breaking down the technical details, use cases, a case study, and of course, safety and privacy.
I hope you’ll be able to keep track (painful. Just painful. Worth it though).
Overview of User Tracking
User tracking is the combination of using a reliable accuracy engine, customizable tracking modes, and a privacy compliant data gathering process to serve various industry use-cases. Those are; family and friends; worksite monitoring; salesforce tracking; and elderly tracking. Let me quickly give you an overview of the benefits it brings to all these areas.
All of these use-cases share one commonality. They use real-time tracking to stay up to date with where a user is located.
Enabling real-time monitoring of location and movements can help to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals, as well as provide assistance in emergency situations.
You’ll be able to stay connected with family and friends and keep track of each other’s whereabouts in real-time. That provides an added layer of safety, reassurance and security.
It’s handy to coordinate meetups and gatherings. Personally, I’ve used WhatsApp to broadcast my live location or current location to friends when I’ve wanted to meet up with them in a busy area or a park. Yes, I have friends. That is possible, people tolerate me.
You can monitor the movements and activities of employees, which is better for resource management, safety, and overall productivity. Collecting that real-time location data will help your business understand the performance of your workers, and where they can improve.
Technical Details of User Tracking
Alright, the tech stuff. Going to cut the fluff out here and put on the developer glasses. Don’t worry, the rest of you will be able to follow. If I can, you can.
A lot of what follows are the technical features and solutions we provide at Roam to help you build the best user tracking app.
The accuracy of user tracking depends on the accuracy of the location data provided by the device's GPS and other location services. That said, many factors can affect the accuracy of this data. That includes environmental factors, GPS signal strength, and GPS drift. To mitigate these factors, it’s best to make use of an accuracy engine. An accuracy engine applies various algorithms and techniques to improve the accuracy of location data. That means, if the GPS signal is weak or starts to drift, it will rely on other sensors on the device like WiFi to collect location data within the desired range.
The accuracy engine plays the most important role for a user tracking app, as inaccurate location data can compromise the quality of the app and its service. Therefore, it’s important to invest time, resources and effort in a high quality accuracy engine.
In order for user tracking to work efficiently, it must be reliable. It must work consistently and accurately, even in situations where the device may be offline or disconnected from the internet. There are a few techniques to achieve this:
- Offline tracking: If you’re familiar with our content, you will know that we’ve talked about offline tracking and its benefits for fitness apps. Offline location tracking allows you to continue to pick up location data without internet connection by storing the location data locally on the user’s device. Since this will only take up a few kilobytes of storage, it won’t affect the speed or storage of the device either.
- Mock location prevention: Mock location prevention ensures that your user tracking app receives accurate and reliable location data from the device's GPS receiver, rather than spoofed or fabricated location data. That also means the user can keep using mock location apps, like VPN, without worrying about the effect it could have on your user tracking app.
- Always-on tracking: Always-on tracking allows you to continue collecting location data no matter what state the app is in. That means the user does not have to have the app open at all times for it to function, and that the app will continue to collect data even if it is suspended (closed). Notice: this only works with user permissions. So do try to hit that point home to your users, and that you’re not trying to pull a Zuckerberg on them.
It’s techniques like this that make user tracking reliable, but for user tracking to work effectively in certain use cases, customizability is equally important.
How many times you want to track a user’s location either in distance or in time intervals should be entirely up to you. It’s essential for your app to work optimally. This also includes the control of the start and stoppage of location tracking.
That said, at Roam we do provide 3 standard tracking modes that you can use and interchange between depending on your app and situation. These are:
- Active Tracking: 25 - 250m
- Balanced Tracking: 50 - 500m
- Passive Tracking: 100 - 1000m
Side note: we’ve got a bite-sized blog if you want to learn more about how customizable tracking modes work and how they can save battery life.
For some cases, the current location of a device is better suited to an app's function than just real-time tracking. Our Get Current Location features fulfills that exact task. Getting a user’s current location should also be the most accurate feature, at least when compared to real-time tracking.
Use Cases of User Tracking
Family and friends tracking:
User Tracking can enable family and friends to stay connected and track each other's locations in real-time, providing an added layer of safety and security. It can also be useful for coordinating meetups and gatherings (we’re not going there again).
Keeping track of loved ones during travel or other activities is what a family and friends tracking app is all about. As a parent, such an app lets you keep an eye on your kids when they make their way to school or to a friend's house. And no, this isn’t about spying on what your kids are up to, it’s about making sure they are safe, and in case of an emergency, you’ll know where to find them.
User Tracking can be used to monitor the movements and activities of employees at worksites, enabling better resource management and improved safety. When you’ve got a lot going on at a construction site, keeping track of a workers location will help optimize workflows and improve overall productivity.
To help optimize sales operations, salesforce tracking uses real-time tracking of sales representatives and their activities. This can provide valuable insights into sales performance, enable better resource allocation, and improve overall efficiency.
We’ve seen salesforce tracking being used in ride-hailing and last-mile delivery operations to assess whether drivers and couriers were working efficiently and fairly so they don’t manipulate fees. They’ve also used it to assess route optimization and to better understand traffic flow. This helps improve ETA's.
Elderly tracking uses both real-time and Get Current Location to help provide a peace of mind for family members and caregivers of elderly individuals. Enabling real-time to monitor their location and movements, and getting their current location in emergency situations is important for the well-being of an elderly individual. Location tracking helps ensure their safety and well-being, and provide assistance in emergency situations should the occasion for it arise.
Case Study: SoSafe
To give you an example of how user tracking has been utilized in real life, we’ll introduce one of our clients, SoSafe.
SoSafe is a company that has reimagined personal security. With their app you're one click away to call for help. SoSafe immediately provides the necessary emergency details and information of the person in need to their families and friends. It provides you information such as the device’s battery life, and a voice recording for alarm services and relatives to listen in on the situation.
With our location SDK, SoSafe uses location to provide the current geographic position of the person in distress, and a tracking path of where they’ve been in the period before and during the use of the app. It's an innovative and uncomplicated app that utilizes the latest mobile technology and device features to provide personal safety and security for families.
Ensuring Safety and Privacy in User Tracking
Obviously, there are questions with regards to privacy, as user tracking uses personal data. Location is personal information that cannot be misused, and there are a few approaches to ensure this.
Starting off with our SDK only price plan. With this plan, the location data you collect goes directly to your database, and not our backend. That means the data collection is completely yours and controlled by you, and you alone.
GDPR compliance. This applies to us, and the user tracking app itself. GDPR is a European Union regulation that enforces no personal data to be sold or communicated with third parties. It’s a strict regulation that has cracked down on protecting user data. You can learn more about GDPR here.
Customizable data retention periods means you have freedom to choose how long the data that does go through our backend remains there. Add that to our compliance with GDPR and you’ve got a double layer of security and privacy that guarantees the user location data is never abused.
This was your guide to user tracking for 2023. We covered the technical aspects, use cases, and cleared the air on questions related to privacy. We hope it was a comprehensive blog about all things user tracking and that you are now better informed on the subject.
As we look ahead, the future of user tracking holds tremendous potential for further advancements and innovations. Emerging technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are poised to reshape the landscape of user tracking in the coming years.
With expected advancements in satellite technology, location tracking should become even more precise, reliable and accurate, allowing for more granular and real-time insights.
User tracking will increasingly incorporate contextual information such as environmental conditions, user behavior patterns, and historical data to provide deeper insights and deliver personalized experiences.
The proliferation of smart devices, wearables, and connected technologies will enable seamless integration of user tracking capabilities. This will expand its applications to various domains such as healthcare and smart homes.
As privacy concerns continue to be in focus, user tracking solutions will likely incorporate stronger privacy measures and user control, ensuring that individuals have transparency and control over their location data.
If you’re interested in developing a user tracking mobile app and want to power it with reliable and accurate location tracking, check out our User Tracking page. It offers customizable tracking modes, Get Current Location, offline location tracking, and much more! Check out our User Tracking page to find out more.