• Fiona Moloney

Find me! This is how location based tech can.

A key component of all duress solutions should be the ability to provide an accurate location of the duress or emergency event to security personnel, police and first responders.

Without an accurate location the amount of time to respond is significantly increased, resulting in casualties and potential fatalities.

In general, all technologies below fit under a generic with the Real Time Location Services (RTLS) heading.

The main goal of any duress solution is to minimise the response time in order to ensure a better outcome.

Duress events can be divided into 2 main categories:

  1. Personal Duress: This relates to individual duress events such as sexual assault, verbal assault, accidents or health related issues.

  2. Mass Duress: This relates to an incident where multiple people may be under threat from dangers such as active killers, terrorism, fire or chemical spills.

A duress solution should be capable of addressing both of these areas at a minimum along with additional preventative measures.

The 5 main location based duress technologies are:

  1. BLE

  2. GPS

  3. Wi-Fi

  4. RFID

  5. Noise Makers


  • A simple, robust and accurate way to deliver an indoor and outdoor solution.

  • A user is located with a dedicated device or a smartphone.

  • Positions are based on proximity to the nearest beacon.

  • Beacons can be configured in ranges from approximately 5 metres to 60 metres.

  • User device only needs to hear 1 beacon to accurately generate a position.

  • Little or no cable or mains power requirements are required.

  • Non proprietary network.


  • Simple non-disruptive installation

  • Accurate locating

  • Require no cabling

  • Small / easily hidden / long life span

  • Easy calibration, remote configuration

  • Room by room accuracy

  • Fully managed and Monitored

  • Data points IoT

  • Range configurable per device

  • Mass notification functionality


  • Low cost per device

  • Requires a battery (3-5 year life span)

  • Can be subject to EMI

  • Design and configuration expertise required


  • Highly effective for locating outdoors and can be used with smartphones or dedicated devices.

  • Many trackers use poor components and cheap chipsets in manufacturing.

  • Various enhancements such as A-GPS using mobile towers to improve accuracy are used.

  • In a building GPS can only give a very rough estimate of location indoors e.g. wing or side.

  • Incapable of providing room or floor level accuracy.


  • Accurate outdoor location

  • Dedicated trackers / smartphones

  • Known tech

  • Can only location to building location details

  • Requires no additional infrastructure


  • Accuracy depends on sufficient received signal quality and receiver

  • Inaccuracy error avg of 5-10 metres 

  • Inaccurate indoor location

  • Cannot locate down to room level

  • Can be subject to EMI


  • Tracking using Wi-Fi Access Points (WAPs) to triangulate the position of a device.

  • Most systems work on the Received Signal Strength (RSSI) of the access points.

  • To accurately locate indoors a device must receive a strong signal from at least 3 Wi-Fi Access Points.

  • For accurate locating a dedicated device must be carried by a user.

  • The density of Wi-Fi access points for standard internet browsing is NOT sufficient to run a locating service.

  • A network of enterprise grade access points are required.

  • Significant installation and maintenance challenges.


  • Triangulation

  • Controlled environment

  • Accurate indoors


  • Requires additional dedicated devices

  • Requires additional wifi access points

  • Additional installation/cabling/calibration and power points

  • Enormous density

  • Very costly solution

  • Recalibration through out lifecycle

  • Non resilient

  • Requires skilled IT resources

  • Can be subject to EMI


  • Radio Frequency Identification requires a network of locator beacons which tend to be proprietary.

  • Specific readers and tags re required for the application which cannot be open-sourced.

  • Proprietary network risk exposure to pricing increases with no alternative solutions provider.

  • Most smartphones cannot read active RFID and therefore dedicated hardware is required.

  • Little or no new development is taking place around Active RFID technology. 

  • RFID antennas can be expensive to deploy.

  • Requires cable and mains power.


  • Long range

  • Low Power Readers

  • More Components 


  • Complex form of RFID

  • Requires large battery

  • Expensive

  • Limited Lifetime

  • Large and Heavy

  • Can add noise to the environment

  • Can be subject to EMI


  • The most basic of all duress solutions.

  • Requires a separate hardware device.

  • Noisemakers simply emit a very loud noise in the range of 120db, at this level damage to hearing is possible.

  • Noisemakers do not allow for any locating ability which also means that further data cannot be collated.


  • Basic solution

  • Can be very loud

  • Cheap solution


  • Can be very loud / causing hearing damage

  • No accurate locating abilities

  • Reverb can confuse first responders locating

  • No further data can be collected

  • False alarms

  • Fear of making noise

  • MaintenanceLoss of device & replacement

  • No mass notification functionality