My friend Jerry sent a terrific blog posting from Jeff Jonas, who writes about “information management and privacy in the information age.”
Talk about a topic full of angst. We inhabit a world in which we despise the fact that Google peers inside our personal email to target click ads, or decides its alright to post pictures on the Web of our backyard. We hate it when government puts cameras up at intersections to catch folks running red lights, or when we plow snow for the state and are required to carry a GPS so our employer knows our whereabouts. And the thought of having an RFID tag on a jar of baby food, so a retailer knows to offer us a discount on diapers, just creeps us out.
Mobile devices in
are generating something like 600 billion geo-spatially tagged transactions per day. Every call, text message, email and data transfer handled by your mobile device creates a transaction with your space-time coordinate (to roughly 60 meters accuracy if there are three cell towers in range), whether you have GPS or not. Got a Blackberry? Every few minutes, it sends a heartbeat, creating a transaction whether you are using the phone or not. If the device is GPS-enabled and you’re using alocation-based service your location is accurate to somewhere between 10 and 30 meters. Using Wi-Fi? It is accurate below10 meters. America
The data reveals the number of co-workers that join you Thursdays after work for a beer, and roughly where you all go. It knows where these same co-workers call home, and just exactly what kind of neighborhood they come from (e.g., average income, average home price) … information certainly useful to attentive direct marketing folks.
Large space-time data sets combined with advanced analytics enable a degree of understanding, discovery, and prediction that may be hard for many people to fully appreciate. Better prediction means a more efficient enterprise and nifty consumer services.