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Directions Magazine

Indoor positioning for B2B

Thursday, December 12th 2013
By Joe Francica

What would you want to know if you had a business where it was important to understand space utilization? You'd want to know about how often offices and conference rooms were being utilized and perhaps the foot traffic in the coffee lounge. Perhaps this might lead you to reduce space allocation or negotiate a new lease agreement.

If you were a restaurant, you'd like to know about how long a customer will wait before being seated … or if they left frustrated because of the wait time. Perhaps you'd like to know if they were a repeat customer. Answers to these questions  might lead you to change the table configuration or to offer customer incentives.

And, if you were a mall retailer, maybe you'd like to know how often someone passes by your storefront and whether they decided to stop in. Or if you were the mall's real estate developer, you might even adjust your rental rates on based on foot traffic.

But the application can extend outdoors as well. What if a city wanted to provide free WiFi in a downtown park area? The same type of metrics can be acquired.

The challenge is to capture this data and analyze the results. GISi Indoor's GeoMetri, released this past week. is a web service that provides an analytics dashboard for each scenario mentioned above. Here's how it works:

Foot traffic is determined by pinging a cell phone's Wi-Fi radio every two seconds. In each place of business, a minimum of five Wi-Fi nodes are installed and trilateration is used to determine location. Data is restricted to a geofence established ahead of time. The geofence can be restricted to just the building footprint or include an extended area such as a parking lot. To anonymize the data for privacy concerns, the MAC address is hashed, taking only the first 5 characters and the user is essentially invisible to the application, according to GISinc.

Once the data is captured, an analytics dashboard provides information on traffic by time of day, frequency of visits and other metrics.

What's unique about the application (regardless of what you think about it's privacy implications), is that, for the user, it's more passive than downloading foursquare, for example. If a business wants to offer free Wi-Fi to customers, they turn on their Wi-Fi, agree to terms, and that's it. No downloading of an app. A splash screen can show an advertisement and the user may also receive a coupon or other incentive. There are no "check-ins" required and the user can opt-out. If the user returns to the place of business, the GeoMetri will recognize the returning customer's cell phone and there is no further intrusion to opt-in or check-in.

If you want more details, check out the GeoMetri website or see the infographic below.

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