The same idea seems to have spread further than the Bluetooth domain, to more location-providing technologies and mediums. There’s already a couple of companies that have to started to use GPS data and data from mobile opperators aggregatively. From the article:
Sense Networks [use] GPS data from taxi cabs and cell phones to detect road and foot traffic, as well as predict tourism and retail patterns. Similarly, Inrix uses traffic data to predict traffic patterns, and Path Intelligence in the UK monitors traffic flow in shopping centers by tracking cellphones.
Other companies I’m sure are already planning to follow and I expect to see a lot more on this sector soon. The privacy concerns, which are obviously there will slowly die down, making this a much more realistic and viable business.
The companies can use this sort of data for all sorts of different analysis, from which a great number of patterns can be identified, mainly for masses and crowds. This covers living patterns and maybe in the future even the possibility to use something like this to find out where and how we’ll be spending our evenings. Indeed, one of the biggest uses of this technology is traffic detection and monitoring, so as to provide drivers with the best routes, according to this article:
Just before midnight tonight, researchers from UC Berkeley and Nokia will release free software that can be downloaded to Global Positioning System-enabled phones that run on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile.
The software will transform the phones into devices that are used to monitor and measure traffic – and show real-time traffic data. The system is similar to the Bay Area’s 511 system, which relies in large part on FasTrak toll tags.
But because it uses cell phones, it could dramatically improve the accuracy of driving time projections, and allow driving time estimates on less-traveled roads, including surface streets and rural highways, the researchers say.
It seems the trend on using location data anonymously to track masses is growing.. And as long as there are strict restrictions and rules about privacy, and allowing people to opt-in, I’m ok with it.