DRAFT beacon payload

DRAFT Beacon payload

The intention of this payload is to allow fixed beacons in shops and restaurants that the mobile phone can use to build up a diary of movements.

This payload provides ‘check in’ information about the current venue. E.g. “John’s Italian, Sheffield Road, Chesterfield - Seating section A - website url”

Click here to View the Formal Specification for the Beacon Payload

Instead of signing in and filling out a contact tracing form (which many people do not bother to fill in) or require the scanning of a QR code at a venue (which many people do not do), this history would be built up automatically on each user’s phone if they had been present under the same beacon for a while.

The Herald envelope payload ID range 0x30-0x37 is reserved for this Payload.

This payload is identical to the Simple and Secured payloads except that it provides a different payload format.

This approach also aids manual contact tracing for locations where people have not been using an app.

This payload greatly reduces the workload on a venue and individual to manually ‘check in’ to places they visit, increasing contact tracing ease and utility, and greatly reducing manual contact tracing time.

Payload content

The payload contains the following fields. Note order is Big Endian (Network order). All types are C++ standard data types.

Note that the Extended Data format is the same as used by the Secured Payload. This allows the following data items that are of interest for a check in app:-

Code Description Size and format
0x10 Textual short name description of premises (E.g. College, Restaurant) 1+ bytes UTF-8 String
0x11 Textual short name description of beacon location within premises (E.g. Seating area B) 1+ bytes UTF-8 String
0x12 Textual disambiguation (optional) for beacon area (E.g. Seating Area B - West wall, and Seating area B - East wall). Useful for large rooms such as sports halls, football stadiums, shopping centres/malls. 1+byte UTF-8 String
0x13 Location information URL (optional). MUST be https. 1+ byte UTF-8 URL

Payload distance estimation

It is likely that the same consumer device running Herald will receive multiple beacon payloads for the same location code, but different beacon locations within premises.

Check-In apps supporting Herald MUST NOT provide multiple popups / notifications / registrations for these but treat them as the same premises if the mandatory Location Code field is the same value. This reduces the workload on the app user, and minimises the number of registrations required for multiple beacons on one premises.

As the user moves within a location their device (phone or wearable) will take distance estimations to this Herald beacon. A map can be created of the location either via manual creation (more accurate, more difficult), or via distance estimations between devices with known performance characteristics in free space. (Less accurate, easier to do).

Privacy and Security

It should be noted that the beacon will record all nearby payloads sent to it by devices. If those devices use the Secured Payload then the ‘identity’ of the visitors is not known and so cannot be used as a tracking capability by the owner of the premises or the state apparatus.

The Beacon’s payload is not encrypted. This is because the venue will presumably have a sign outside the door with the name of the premises anyway, and because this payload is intended as a public ‘check-in’ protocol, where phones are not known to the owner of the premises a priori.

This is useful for public venues and venues that allow external visitors - their Herald based apps will be able to interact with this payload easily with no code changes between venue owners, or complex registration requirements.

Getting Started

To help you get started, see the documentation.