There’s a Geofence Around You and You Don’t Even Know It


It’s a trend you might have missed, but there’s a rapidly evolving technology out there called geofencing that’s coming to an app near you.

In fact, it probably already has.


The apps know where you are

If you’ve ever walked near a coffee shop and received a message to your phone offering you a discount latte, that’s geofencing. The app reacts because it knows you love coffee and that you’re close enough to smell it.

Still not sure what geofencing is or what it does? You’re not alone. Type “What is geofencing?” into Google and you get more than 2 million answers — not all of them clear.

So to find out what people know about the technology and how they feel about it, we recently asked 400 U.S. employees whether they’ve used geofencing before and, if they have, what the experience was like.

The results — as you’ll find in The Unstoppable Rise of App Notifications — were surprising. If you think people are wary of apps that can track their location when they’re not using them, according to the data, you’d be wrong. To the extent that we trust the app that’s tracking us, we’re mostly happy to let it know where we are.

And we’ll do anything for free coffee.


When geofencing fails

Given all the hype around geofencing, did our respondents have good experience with the technology? Not when they used it at work.

Close to half of the employees we surveyed said they ran into problems with geofencing and almost 1 in 10 said the problems were so severe they had to abandon the technology entirely. Not a ringing endorsement.

And yet, geofencing has huge potential. Say you run a landscaping business and your employees are constantly moving from one property to the next. So often, in fact, that they tend to forget which customers they’re working for. That’s a recipe for sloppy time tracking that makes payroll a nightmare and job costing impossible.

But what if you had an app that could automatically clock your employees in as soon as they arrive at each job? Sounds great. Until one glitchy geofence becomes a barrier that actually prevents employees from clocking in. In this scenario, something that should have made life easier does the opposite. You see the problem.


We ♥ app notifications

Still, there is hope. By a slim margin, the majority (53 percent) of our survey takers said geofencing worked well for them when they used it at work. And an even larger proportion, more than three-quarters, said they’re happy to receive app alerts that go in the new direction the technology is taking.

So why aren’t more of us disabling these notifications? Aren’t they annoying?

To get these answers and more, read The Unstoppable Rise of App Notifications for the full scoop on how geofencing is shaping our lives.