The BBC reports on how real time data on mobile phone use in Rome is being used by MIT researchers to observe how people move around the city through the day.
Anyone who has ever driven in Rome or any city in Italy knows the chaos which results from traffic congestion. Researchers are looking to the mobile networks for real time data on the movement of people through the city. Mobile networks must track phones to execute handoffs between towers as one moves in through space to ensure optimal signal strength.
There is little doubt that the mountains of data we generate when using our phones for talking, texting surfing the web or engaging with our social networks offers astonishing opportunities for new applications, targeted marketing, and new lines of business for those who house and store our data.
In Rome, one possible application for all this real-time information is its use by traffic planners to expand roads or increase public transportation resources in obviously high traffic areas. The article extends this idea.
…in future sic buses might not stick to a fixed timetable or even route.
Sending busses to where the people are rather than vice-versa could mean fewer wasted journeys, so Real Time Rome might ultimately be good for the environment.
Better route planning for buses and cars could mean less time standing in traffic, pumping out noxious fumes.
Another example of how this data might be put to use was a demonstration by Verizon Wireless for the AdAge’s Madison+Vine event in LA last year. Verizon wanted to show Madison Avenue the power of data mining its users to generate targeted advertising. The demo consisted of a list of Verizon users in the LA area who had downloaded a hiphop ringtone during the previous 30 days. A group of 10,000 of these identified subscribers were offered concert tickets for a same day outdoor concert and all of the 10,000 tickets were purchased in the span of one hour, according to John Stratton, chief marketing officer, Verizon Wireless.
And finally, consider MySpace’s move to launch a record label, and now, it’s own TV network. These new lines of business are enabled and assured by the knowledge of what music and media (think YouTube) that MySpacers are consuming and promoting to their networks. Further, the company knows much personal information about the demographics they can target with new media services.
The backend data from social networks, mobile phone networks and of course, mobile social networks and social media is a treasure chest for the data miners, researchers and marketeers wishing to understand or monetize your interactions.