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Fast food, festivals and free-range marketing

By GeoConnexion - 11th June 2014 - 09:58

For both public and private sectors, location data is moving past static mapping into real-time, contextual analysis, argues James Brayshawâ©

SoLoMo data points can be leveraged by a wide variety of users, including local government and central government departments that need to keep people safer and provide better real-time services. Maximum benefit can be gained when mobile data is combined with location intelligence tools, such as geocoding and reverse geocoding. These tools aren’t just being used by the likes of global organisations such as Twitter and Facebook – they’re playing an increasingly important role at a local level as public sector bodies across Europe will be able to deliver a multitude of real-time, location-based services to citizens, whether that means alternative routing to unsnarl a traffic jam or mapping the nearest hospital to handle an emergency. Commercial organisations are starting to realise that the advent of big data generated by these devices translates into useful data when combined with a location to provide context and business insight into customers behaviours and patterns for a number of application uses. â©

The power of location intelligence has been amplified immensely by the adoption of mobile phones. At the end of 2013, more than 20 per cent of the global population owned a smartphone. That’s 1.4 billion smartphones. This is expected to grow to 1.75 billion smartphones in 2014 and adoption rates for tablet computers are outpacing smartphones by a large margin. â©

For both public and private sectors, location data is moving past static mapping into real-time, contextual analysis. Today, location intelligence is much more about data and the context it can provide than it is about maps. â©

Late-night burgers, served with a side of contextâ©

Much of this will depend on the availability of mobile data, which recent statistics show is quite readily available. This past September, Comscore conducted a study that found that more than a third of mobile users (39 per cent) are now shopping on their mobiles. â©

Currently, though, much of the purchasing process is one-way. Customers use their phones to research products, services and stores but businesses aren’t communicating with them during that process. Geographical contextual data can change that. If someone pauses in the street and Tweets a friend, asking for recommendations about a coffee shop, nearby coffee shops could respond in kind, offering personalised promotions. â©

This kind of dynamic marketing has recently helped McDonald’s to discover that combining mobile, social and context can really work to improve sales. The franchise knew that there was a large potential audience looking for food during the late evening and decided to build a ‘restaurant finder’ app that leverages real-time, geo-location and mapping technology to show these night owls which stores are open in their area. The campaign was very effective, boosting night-time sales by four per cent. â©

Where does contextual data come from?â©

Taking full advantage of this context requires access to related good quality data that is fit for purpose. Some of the necessary data will be recognisable to an experienced mapping or GIS professional. Some data points include lifestyle segmentation, demographics, profiles and similar information. â©

However, in some cases, new forms of contextual data are just becoming available as new data offerings, some fuelled by streams of data from mobile devices and others from a variety of sensors (for example, weather and traffic) are coming online. Data providers must ensure that what they provide can be used by the new breed of enterprise data management and location intelligence platforms that make productive use of all this data. A number of organisations are using data and these platforms from the likes of Pitney Bowes and combining it with their own information to provide real insight into customer behaviours.â©

For example, global geocoding, reverse geocoding and other location intelligence applications and data have become integral to Facebook’s applications and services. Location intelligence technology allows Facebook developers and ultimately their users, high-performance, high-precision location processing, across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile platforms.â©

Twitter knows where you areâ©

For many applications, live streams of the data may be necessary, and one of the biggest sources of contextual data is this constant flow of messages on Twitter. Twitter has itself adopted the moniker ‘Firehose’ to refer to its data stream and has set up a certified partner network to provide access to this data.â©

Some applications, such as real-time sentiment measurement or traffic management for a crowded venue require access to live streams of potentially massive amounts of data. Other applications, such as tailoring an offer to an individual, require historical information.â©

Detailed information on individuals can be obtained from a data provider that has access to historical data from the networks they are covering or from information already collated over a period of time from customers or citizens. â©

For an example of how this could work in principle, try visiting the OpenPaths site OpenPaths is a secure data locker for individuals to track their own location data. The site offers mobile applications to track your location and visualise where you’ve been. â©

A stated goal of this site is to allow individuals to make better decisions and contribute positively to society through a better understanding of their own location. â©

Location information, combined with the context of the surroundings and other factors such as time or season, can be used to draw conclusions about an individual and has a variety of applications.â©

The art of anticipationâ©

Over time, consumers can be segmented according to their location habits – if someone travels a lot, they may be more open to adverts for taxi or airport services. Does a customer visit a certain business over and over? That business will know that the customer is loyal and could have their order ready by the time he or she walks into the store. The innovations made possible by location intelligence will enable mobile marketing campaigns that pull, instead of push.â©

Amazon is already planning to take this strategy a step further. The company just took out a patent on “anticipatory” shipping. By leveraging data about purchasing habits and location history, Amazon hopes to ship products to a customer’s door nearly the second that he or she actually orders it. Other retailers are thinking along these lines, too.â©

Making mobile personal â©

The power of social, mobile and local data now allows local government, big businesses and independent shops to wield location intelligence tools like never before. More sophisticated, user-friendly platforms are leading to a widespread democratisation of location intelligence. Some of the newest tools require little more knowledge than how to connect to the Internet. â©

The latest developments in social media marketing have been promising, too. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn already allow marketers to target by geography. When that data is connected to location intelligence platforms, it becomes a source of streaming, real-time information that can be an invaluable resource.â©

The use of location data is going through a renaissance. With the advent of so many location-driven apps and services on their smartphones, consumers not only understand the basic premise of location intelligence, they also expect organisations to be leveraging it for more than just maps but valuable and helpful insights.â©

The use of location data is going through a renaissanceâ©

James Brayshaw is vice president of enterprise data management, location and GIS, EMEA for Pitney Bowes (

Read More: Addressing Technology Cartography GIS LBS – Location Based Services Marketing & Sales Security & Safety Transport & Logistics Municipal Government Sales & Retail

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