Blip Systems: Traffic management through physical device tracking
The Danish company Blip Systems deploys sensors in cities, airports, and railway stations to help understand and analyse traffic flows and improve planning. In the UK's city of Portsmouth, a network of BlipTrack sensors was installed in 2013 by VAR Smart CCTV, and the data it has collected is used to identify problem areas and detect changing traffic patterns. The city hope that adding more sensors to identify individual journeys will help reduce commuting times, fuel consumption, and vehicular emissions. In airports such as Amsterdam's Schiphol, New York's JFK, and others in Copenhagen, Brussels, and Dublin, Blip's sensors are intended to help study and improve traffic flow and understand passenger habits. The company's mobile sensors use open wifi and Bluetooth connections to passively mark electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets as they pass, using the device's hardware Media Access Control (MAC) address to track passengers from the time they enter the airport until they reach the plane. At JFK, where the system helps inform passengers how long they will have to wait, it's estimated that BlipTracks reach 19.5 million passengers per year, and the company managing the most crowded terminals hopes to use the data to influence future airport design to increase efficiency. Finally, in the Danish city of Aalborg, Blip's sensors have been installed in the pedestrian areas to track visitor behaviour. The data is intended to help measure, optimise and improve the layout of the town centre.
Blip is an example of the next wave of data analytics companies, relying on tracking and data collection in the physical world instead of online. Few members of the public realise these companies exist, and still fewer realise that they are being tracked through public locations; consent is not asked. MAC addresses are not typically seen as personal identifiers, but they can be under some circumstances, and they may provide a useful link to match stores of data that would otherwise remain separate.
Publication: PRWeb, tnooz, TechCrunch, NFC World
Writer: Marisa Garcia, Rian Boden