As requested - Real Time Locating Systsm (RTLS) Using WiFi to locate devices.
Disclaimer - I am in no way commercially linked to any RTLS company. References are for information only.
We have all seen sci-fi movies where our hero is being monitored in 3d as he moves his way round a building. As is often the way in the movies, the reality is much less glamorous.
RTLS over WiFi uses tags attached to devices or people, and then a high density deployment of access points to monitor the tag and best-guess as to where the tag (and therefore the equipment or person to which it's attached) is located. The two current market leader for this technology in the WiFi space are Ekahau and Aeroscout.
Here is a picture of some Ekahau tags for scale, I placed them next to a pen and a Post-It. The flat one can be tied to a device, the stubby one can be worn round a wrist.
There will be an overlay locationing system (various vendors) tied in with the wifi that is able to use metrics between the tags and the access point to guess where the tag is, and position it on the map.
The WiFi needs to be very carefully designed. Design Rules of thumb when we plan networks:
* WiFi for data only - must see one access point with a signal strength of -67 db
* VoIP - must see two access points with a minimum strnngth of -67dbm
* Location tracking - must see three access points with a minimum strength of -67dbm.
If you don't plan correctly, you face a significant problems. The system will not be able to accurately place the devices and may even locate them to the wrong floor in multi-floor environments. With careful planning, it can be very accurate - the best I have seen is accurate to within 15ft and always the right floor - Tallahassee Healthcare, Florida.
So the challenge is to squeeze a lot of access points into a small space. Here is a design for a single floor measuring 110 ft by 70 ft - this space contains 22 Cisco access points on 2.4GHz, so three channels are in use.
In order to reduce any co-channel interference (access points able to see each other on the same channel), the access point power was reduced to the bare minimum and extremely detailed attention paid to the use of directional antennas.
Here is the map showing the TOTAL interference, the green is 0% and yellow is 10%
This is a truly remarkable achievement, and takes great skill, time and dedication.
So why go to all this trouble ? Well, most of my experiences come from healthcare (hospitals), so I will give you some examples of the use cases there, though you may be able to think how this may help in education:
Crash carts for heart attack patients are very expensive so each floor may only have one or two. If you need on quickly, RTLS will show you on a floor plan where it is.
Infusion pumps are expensive to buy so one hospital leased a multitude of them, tagged them then tracked them as they were used. They worked out how many they really did need, and how much use they got, thereby working out if it was cheaper in the long run to continue to lease them or buy them. This use case saved over $10 million alone.
Valuable equipment can be "geofenced", so if it is moved outside a boundary an alarm will sound as a means to prevent theft.
People can be tracked - key staff can be located, patient movements can be tracked and analysed, and so on.
There are many other uses too, centred around the system giving you information and you using that information to make business critical decisions.
I hope this helps answer questions you may have.
A final word - you may all have seen the map functions in Ruckus, Aerohive, Aruba Airwave, Cisco and others that shows client devices on a map. This can't really show you where the device is, the placement is just random - what the system is really trying to do is show you the devices and the access point to which it's associated, so it will add an icon to the map but it has no way of showing the true location, and doesn't even try to guess.