Tracking using MQTT with Amazon Location Service - Amazon Location Service

Tracking using MQTT with Amazon Location Service

MQTT is a lightweight and widely adopted messaging protocol designed for constrained devices. AWS IoT Core supports device connections that use the MQTT protocol and MQTT over WebSocket Secure (WSS) protocol.

AWS IoT Core connects devices to AWS and enables you to send and receive messages between them. The AWS IoT Core rules engine stores queries about your devices' message topics and enables you to define actions for sending messages to other AWS services, such as Amazon Location Service. Devices that are aware of their location as coordinates can have their locations forwarded to Amazon Location through the rules engine. For more information about this pattern, see the reference architecture.


Before you can begin tracking, you must create a tracker resource. To create a tracker resource, you can use the Amazon Location console, the AWS CLI, or the Amazon Location APIs.

The following example uses the Amazon Location Service console to create the tracker resource:

  1. Open the Amazon Location Service console at

  2. In the left navigation pane, choose Trackers.

  3. Choose Create tracker.

  4. Fill out the following boxes:

    • Name – Enter a unique name that has a maximum of 100 characters. Valid entries include alphanumeric characters, hyphens, and underscores. For example, MyTracker.

    • Description – Enter an optional description. For example, Tracker for storing AWS IoT Core device positions.

    • Position filtering – Select the filtering that you want to use for position updates. For example, Accuracy-based filtering.

  5. Choose Create tracker.

Create a Lambda function

To create a connection between AWS IoT Core and Amazon Location Service, you need an AWS Lambda function to process messages forwarded by AWS IoT Core. This function will extract any positional data, format it for Amazon Location Service, and submit it through the Amazon Location Tracker API. You can create this function through the AWS Lambda console, or you can use the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) or the AWS Lambda APIs.

To create a Lambda function that publishes position updates to Amazon Location using the console:

  1. Open the AWS Lambda console at

  2. From the left navigation, choose Functions.

  3. Choose Create Function, and make sure that Author from scratch is selected.

  4. Fill out the following boxes:

    • Function name – Enter a unique name for your function. Valid entries include alphanumeric characters, hyphens, and underscores with no spaces. For example, MyLambda.

    • Runtime – Choose Python 3.8.

  5. Choose Create function.

  6. Choose the Code tab to open the editor.

  7. Overwrite the placeholder code in with the following, replacing the value assigned to TRACKER_NAME with the name of the tracker that you created as a prerequisite.

    from datetime import datetime import json import os import boto3 # Update this to match the name of your Tracker resource TRACKER_NAME = "MyTracker" """ This Lambda function receives a payload from AWS IoT Core and publishes device updates to Amazon Location Service via the BatchUpdateDevicePosition API. Parameter 'event' is the payload delivered from AWS IoT Core. In this sample, we assume that the payload has a single top-level key 'payload' and a nested key 'location' with keys 'lat' and 'long'. We also assume that the name of the device is nested in the payload as 'deviceid'. Finally, the timestamp of the payload is present as 'timestamp'. For example: >>> event { 'payload': { 'deviceid': 'thing123', 'timestamp': 1604940328, 'location': { 'lat': 49.2819, 'long': -123.1187 }, 'accuracy': {'Horizontal': 20.5 }, 'positionProperties': {'field1':'value1','field2':'value2'} } } If your data doesn't match this schema, you can either use the AWS IoT Core rules engine to format the data before delivering it to this Lambda function, or you can modify the code below to match it. """ def lambda_handler(event, context): update = { "DeviceId": event["payload"]["deviceid"], "SampleTime": datetime.fromtimestamp(event["payload"]["timestamp"]).strftime("%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ"), "Position": [ event["payload"]["location"]["long"], event["payload"]["location"]["lat"] ] } if "accuracy" in event["payload"]: update["Accuracy"] = event["payload"]['accuracy'] if "positionProperties" in event["payload"]: update["PositionProperties"] = event["payload"]['positionProperties'] client = boto3.client("location") response = client.batch_update_device_position(TrackerName=TRACKER_NAME, Updates=[update]) return { "statusCode": 200, "body": json.dumps(response) }
  8. Choose Deploy to save the updated function.

  9. Choose the Configuration tab.

  10. In the Permissions section, choose the hyperlinked Role name to grant Amazon Location Service permissions to your Lambda function.

  11. From your role's Summary page, choose Add permissions and then select Create inline policy from the dropdown list.

  12. Choose the JSON tab, and overwrite the policy with the following document. This allows your Lambda function to update device positions managed by all tracker resources across all Regions.

    { "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Sid": "WriteDevicePosition", "Effect": "Allow", "Action": "geo:BatchUpdateDevicePosition", "Resource": "arn:aws:geo:*:*:tracker/*" } ] }
  13. Choose Review policy.

  14. Enter a policy name. For example, AmazonLocationTrackerWriteOnly.

  15. Choose Create policy.

You can modify this function code, as necessary, to adapt to your own device message schema.

Create an AWS IoT Core rule

Next, create an AWS IoT Core rule to forward your devices' positional telemetry to the AWS Lambda function for transformation and publication to Amazon Location Service. The example rule provided assumes that any necessary transformation of device payloads is handled by your Lambda function. You can create this rule through the AWS IoT Core console, the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), or the AWS IoT Core APIs.


While the AWS IoT console handles the permission necessary to allow AWS IoT Core to invoke your Lambda function, if you are creating your rule from the AWS CLI or SDK, you must configure a policy to grant permission to AWS IoT.

To create an AWS IoT Core using the console

  1. Sign in to the AWS IoT Core console at

  2. In the left navigation, expand Act, and choose Rules.

  3. Choose Create a rule to start the new rule wizard.

  4. Enter a name and description for your rule.

  5. For the Rule query statement, update the FROM attribute to refer to a topic where at least one device is publishing telemetry that includes location. If you are testing the solution, no modification is needed.

    SELECT * FROM 'iot/topic'
  6. Under Set one or more actions , choose Add action.

  7. Select Send a message to a lambda function.

  8. Choose Configure action.

  9. Find and select your Lambda function from the list.

  10. Choose Add action.

  11. Choose Create rule.

Test your AWS IoT Core rule in the console

If no devices are currently publishing telemetry that includes location, you can test your rule and this solution using the AWS IoT Core console. The console has a test client where you can publish a sample message to verify the results of the solution.

  1. Sign in to the AWS IoT Core console at

  2. In the left navigation, expand Test, and choose MQTT test client.

  3. Under Publish to a topic, set the Topic name to iot/topic (or the name of the topic that you set up in your AWS IoT Core rule, if different), and provide the following for the Message payload. Replace the timestamp 1604940328 with a valid timestamp within the last 30 days (any timestamps older than 30 days are ignored).

    { "payload": { "deviceid": "thing123", "timestamp": 1604940328, "location": { "lat": 49.2819, "long": -123.1187 }, "accuracy": { "Horizontal": 20.5 }, "positionProperties": { "field1": "value1", "field2": "value2" } } }
  4. Choose Publish to topic to send the test message.

  5. To validate that the message was received by Amazon Location Service, use the following AWS CLI command. If you modified them during setup, replace the tracker name and device id with the ones that you used.

    aws location batch-get-device-position --tracker-name MyTracker --device-ids thing123