September 12, 2019

Location, location, location data

Simon Babes, Director of Analytics at Movement Strategies, considers the opportunities presented by the growing amount of location data now being generated by networks and sensors in an increasingly “smart” world.

‘Data is the new oil’

You might be surprised to know that this well-known and regularly quoted phrase dates way back to 2006. It’s credited to UK mathematician Clive Humby, creator of the Tesco Clubcard.

Significantly however, he caveated this with: ‘It's valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used’, particularly as organisations of all types and across all sectors increasingly seeking to turn all types of data sets into profits. It’s proving to be a challenging process for some.

In order to succeed, they need to answer the all-important “so what?”question. This is the real challenge, and the pathway between processing raw data and extracting insights. This supports better decision-making, with a more positive impact on a business’ bottom line.

Location, location, location

The last five years has witnessed an exponential growth in the amount of location data becoming available.

But what exactly is location data?

Well, it’s the data generated by networks and sensors as they detect the location of a device or object at any specific time. Because of the vastness and diversity of its sources, it’s typically very noisy and complex to ingest, clean, process and evaluate.

RFID, Bluetooth, wireless networks and cellular networks generate billions of data points every day. Given their size, it’s essential that efficient data science techniques are applied when gathering and analysing, otherwise costs can quickly escalate out of control.

Wireless networks generate location data, either by detecting presence when a wireless device connects to an access point, or when a location estimate is generated by the Cisco DNA Spaces location engine. DNA Spaces uses existing Wi-Fi infrastructures to digitise physical spaces for greater insights about people and things within that location.

Many Cisco customers now generatea significant amount of location data. And the increased accuracy of the data,as well as its richness, is encouraging them to investigate its potential,resulting in the opportunity to take full advantage by extracting valuable insights.

Movement Strategies has been working with big box retailers to derive insights from this location dataset, one example being to help them understand customer journeys through a store. This can be achieved in real time and used to alert staff, enabling them to pro-actively ensure customer experience targets are met – the time spent queuing at checkouts, for example.

Camera ready

The Meraki MV family of smart cameras also produces location data, detecting the presence and movement of objects within the field of view. The analytical capability of these cameras generates data in real time, which can be ingested, analysed and turned into insights by partner solutions.

As for us, Movement Strategies is delivering a range of solutions for customers, delivering use cases that use live data feeds to better understand customer movement and behaviour within a location.

And by working with the various lines of business within a client organisation - including marketing,customer experience and operations - we’re able to deliver answers to that “so what?” question for the first time.

Appropriate data access and use

GDPR sets out very clear guidance regarding how personal data should be treated. Thorough privacy impact assessments are therefore key to ensuring compliance. They also safeguard that appropriate measures are taken by both data owner and processor.Most importantly, there should always be a legitimate purpose for processing location data. The use cases I mentioned have been established through close collaboration with customers, with the legitimate purpose articulated in a clear and simple manner. Some use cases may only be answered by merging several data sets, with location data as the “backbone”.

And that’s where we come in. Movement Strategies is the recognised leader in delivering cloud based solutions, using the best location data sets available to generate business relevant and actionable insights across Cisco’s key verticals. By doing so, we aim to help our customers to transform their location data into the “new” oil.

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