Vodafone > Case Studies > Increased Range and Flexibility for Custodia Systems Customers

Increased Range and Flexibility for Custodia Systems Customers

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 Increased Range and Flexibility for Custodia Systems Customers - IoT ONE Case Study
Technology Category
  • Networks & Connectivity - Bluetooth
  • Networks & Connectivity - Cellular
Use Cases
  • Track & Trace of Assets
The Customer
Custodia Systems
About The Customer
Custodia Systems is a UK security consultancy and the global distributor of a market-leading tracking device. It needed a fail-safe communications infrastructure to support its products and services. To ensure consumer confidence and provide a competitive
The Challenge
Custodia Systems is a security consultancy based in the UK. It was founded in 2005 by Peter Thompson, a former Goldman Sachs technology and engineering lead, with start up capital of £4,000 (approximately €4,800). It is now the global distributor of Appello tracking devices and its products currently protect £150 million (€180 million) of construction machinery in the UK. The Appello device is a small, portable unit (no bigger than a smartphone) with a battery life of up to two years. It has no external wiring and cannot be located by scanning devices used by professional thieves like GPS (Global Positioning System) units. The device is hidden, for example among the engineering of a piece of plant machinery and sends out a regular signal to mark its present location. Worldwide, Custodia Systems claims 80% of stolen equipment is recovered and back with its owners within eight hours. To ensure consumer confidence and provide a competitive advantage, Custodia Systems needed a fail-safe communications infrastructure that needed to be international, reliable and as accurate as possible. In addition, to support the launch of the AppelloGEO – a new product that can be used globally – Custodia Systems needed a global platform and fixed price international tariffs.
The Solution
Peter Thompson was already familiar with Vodafone’s business services from his time at Goldman Sachs. He was confident Vodafone’s Location Based Services would provide the most effective asset recovery solution, with a pre-installed SIM sending out a signal, indicating an estimated location. A recovery team could then track the device on the ground using a radio beacon.

To be most effective, the devices would need to transmit over long distances. Vodafone operates on the 900MHz frequency in the UK. This frequency penetrates buildings and materials more effectively than the 1800MHz frequency used by other communications service providers. It means the signal can travel significantly further (up to 20 miles, as opposed to two miles on 1800MHz) and the device can be located even in the most inaccessible places. Stolen assets have been found in concrete bunkers, steel shipping containers and underground car parks.
The Vodafone network supports accurate positioning by using the direction and distance of the tracking device from the nearby cellular masts, meaning Custodia Systems would be able to narrow the search area by two-thirds.

“Vodafone also stores a cache of the last location,” says Thompson. “Every network registers the current location, but Vodafone is the only network in the UK to archive the last known locations.”

The AppelloGEO device is dormant for most of the time, saving energy and making it hard for thieves to detect a signal, however it switches on to send regular alerts. “Being able to detect the location based on the last signal is an even more important feature than the Timing Advance. It means we can prove when the device was last switched on and that it was working before the asset was stolen,” says Thompson.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Nine out of ten stolen items tracked by Custodia Systems are recovered.

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