A New York-based company called Sense Networks is using public and private location-based data to figure out where consumers are going and what they’re doing–patterns that have obvious potential value to, say, retailers trying to figure out where to locate stores and hedge funds trying to figure out how the economy (or a retailer or restaurant chain) is doing. Not surprisingly, the company is funded by…hedge funds. NYT:
Sense Networks earlier this month released Macrosense, a tool that…applies complex statistical algorithms to sift through the growing heaps of data about location and to make predictions or recommendations on various questions — where a company should put its next store, for example. Gregory Skibiski, 34, the chief executive and a co-founder of Sense, says the company has been testing its software with a major retailer, a major financial services firm and a large hedge fund.
Tony Jebara, also 34, the chief scientist and another co-founder of Sense, said, “We can predict tourism, we can tell you how confident consumers are, we can tell retailers about, say, their competitors, who’s coming in from particular neighborhoods…”
Sense’s models were developed initially from sources like taxicab companies that let it look at location data over such a period. Sense also uses publicly available data, like weather information, and other nonpublic sources that it would not disclose. “We had three-quarters of a billion data points from just one city,” Mr. Skibiski says.
Mr. Jebara’s statistical models interpret those patterns and look at whether they correlate with things in the real world, like tourism levels or retail sales… The Macrosense tool lets companies engage in “reality mining,” a phrase coined by Sandy Pentland, an M.I.T. researcher who was also a co-founder of Sense and now advises it on privacy issues….
There’s little doubt that products we use everyday, like our mobile phones or cars, will increasingly allow for us to be tracked. And after years of hype, there also seems to be demand for services built around location. Gartner, a technology researcher and consulting firm, says that the market — which includes various navigation and search devices and subscriptions and services — will nearly triple in revenue this year, to $1.3 billion from $485 million in 2007, and will reach $8 billion in 2011.
Full article at NYT >