Location Analytics will be as familiar as cell phones within the next 10 years. The technology is not a quantum leap. Your cars won’t fly, and your merchandise won’t teleport to front doorsteps. The reason Location Analytics is so important is not that the technology is so advanced; it’s because it’s so simple.
You already have the hardware
You already have all of the information that Location Analytics can tell you, but you probably don’t know how to get it. Think about the Access Points that allow visitors and staff to connect to the WiFi network. Some access points have GPS built-in, so it knows where it sits in space. It has a unique record for every visitor that walks by, even those that do not connect to the WiFi network. An access point knows how long visitors are there and it knows when they leave. When a person comes back, voila! They are already connected to the WiFi network. The Access Point remembers.
That isn’t all an Access Point knows.
WiFi Access Points can tell you what type of devices your visitors prefer. Are your visitors Samsung Galaxy owners or Apple Aficionados? And with the addition of a Smart Splash Login screen, it is also possible to know things like demographic information, contact information, and more. An Access Point can tell you who a customer is, when a customer comes back, and even compare visitation across multiple locations.
Link your Access Point to the CRM
Every business keeps track of their customers, whether they be retail shoppers, entertainment venue visitors, or clinic patients. A good set of records will track purchasing behavior for the lifetime of the customer. The database will include outreach numbers and email addresses, and any other relevant data your organization needs to know about the customers you serve.
To really connect with customers, you need more than their email address. People are full of frustrations and unmet needs when they visit your location, and they probably won’t tell you what those needs are. It’s the responsibility of businesses to find out where they can better serve their patrons.
Let’s take an example problem and see how location analytics can make a difference.
A local cafe thinks the construction down the street is causing them to lose customers. But they’re not really sure. They know the number of cups of coffee that they’re selling have been down since the construction started, and they haven’t seen some of their regulars. They’d like to ask their former regulars if the construction is the problem or something else, or to be able to tell their regulars once the construction is done if that’s the problem. But most of their regulars pay with cash or card, and even though they know their first name, they have no means of contacting them.
By adding location intelligence and a smart splash page to their WiFi signup, this same cafe can know with hard data how many people used to walk past their store vs how many are walking past since the construction. They could also know how long their customers used to stay at the cafe vs how long they’re staying now. And finally, they could collect contact information from their regulars and ask them if the construction was bothering them, or let them know once the construction is complete.
It’s not just existing customers you are challenged to serve. Future customers can be wooed by going just a little out of the way to show them you care.
They say knowledge is power, and knowledge and real time actionable information is what location analytics provides. On large campuses that means understanding when and what buildings are used the most. A facility manager can plan and optimize traffic flow to use space efficiently, saving money on lighting and air-conditioning. Visitors can be measured by everything from revenue per hour to gross tonnage of trash produced.
Right now you have a good idea of how many people are coming and going to your location. Peak times are obvious. But, look a little deeper, and gut feelings lose their usefulness. What are your peak traffic density numbers, and what is the average dwell time of peak visitors? What percentage of visitors stay less than 15 minutes, and how soon will they come back? Using real numbers to answer these questions makes optimization a calculation rather than a guessing game.
We’ve posted about what makes a smart city, but this time let’s talk about why smart cities are important. They’re safer. City managers are already implementing municipal WiFi networks for emergency workers. Giving first responders access to foot traffic data can save lives.
Police look at behavior patterns all the time. It’s an old adage that as the heat goes up, so do crime rates. What about foot traffic? Traffic patterns are valuable data for understanding how and why people act the way they do. For police, that can mean the difference between whether or not a violent crime takes place.
Emergency planning gets a boost from knowing how many people are in each part of the city by the time-of-day. Emergency response is prepared based on facility capacity and the total of those potentially affected by a disaster. The most effective evacuation routes will change according to the circumstances and time of day, but specific instructions can be sent to different people in the city based on where they are and what their best evacuation route is.
Firefighters and EMTs need to know who’s in trouble and how to help them. A raging fire can make that difficult, especially in a multi-residential building. A fire chief armed with data on the number of people last seen in the building can make a quick and informed decision on who needs to be deployed to an emergency. The best part? That call can be made from an internet connection without having to be on the scene. Faster, more intelligent decision-making is the future of emergency response.
The Complete Story
Integration is the future of data. Everything we touch affects something else. We measure things to improve, so the more we measure, the better we can make them. There is now available a whole host of location based data that can be used to improve companies and communities. There are many details on this road that are complicated and difficult to solve, but the great hurdles have already been lept. Location Analytics is available now, and we can show you how to get started.