Location-based services can also handle privacy, says Ontario

The appeal to retailers of mobile location technologies is the possibility that data gathered from wireless smart phones and tablets can be used to boost sales by sending them targeted offers and messages.

It also raises privacy concerns about the possible abuse, leakage or theft of personal data.

But a report released this month by Ontario’s privacy commissioner says mobile location analytics without identity can still give retailers a good understanding of their customers and meet privacy worries.

It also approvingly cites privacy and security strategy of Toronto-based Aislelabs, a cloud-based retail analytics firm whose products capture data from in-store wireless devices.

The company’s Flow service captures only MAC addresses of Wi-Fi enabled wireless devices, uses strong cryptographic hashing to ensure those can’t be personally identified, stores data in a secure cloud infrastructure and allows consumers to opt out of information being grabbed. Its Engage service captures more data through GPS and Bluetooth, but only with customer consent.

Aislelabs can create aggregated anonymous reports from Flow including statistics on the number of shoppers, repeat customers, window conversion, time spent in store, top walking paths and heat maps for frequented spaces. No personally identifiable information is disclosed to the retailer.

Reports are delivered through Web-based dashboards where all information transfer is encrypted, the report says.

While such an approach wouldn’t give enough information to send targeted messages to individual consumers, the report says enough would be gathered for retailers to figure out how to optimize staffing, store layouts and the performance of marketing campaigns.

“At its core,” the report adds, “respecting the user means that, when designing or deploying an information system, the individual’s privacy rights and interests are accommodated right from the outset. User-centricity means putting the interests, needs, and expectations of people first, not those of the organization or its staff. This is key to delivering the next generation of retail experience because empowering people to play active roles in the management of their personal data helps to mitigate abuses and misuses.”

Through its collection and analysis of MAC addresses and signal strengths, mobile location analytics technology could, in theory, tailor marketing to the shopping individuals, the report argues. But such systems, it says don’t have to be designed to do that.

AisleLabs is still able to deliver targeted messages to shoppers from the data collected through Engage. The platform also pulls in data from store point of sales, CRM and email marketing.

On Thursday Aislelabs said it has received venture funding from Toronto’s MaRS IAF, Rho Canada Ventures, Salesforce.com and a number of strategic angels. The investment will be used to accelerate sales and

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

Featured Articles

Empowering the hybrid workforce: how technology can build a better employee experience

Across the country, employees from organizations of all sizes expect flexibility...

What’s behind the best customer experience: How to make it real for your business

The best customer experience – the kind that builds businesses and...

Overcoming the obstacles to optimized operations

Network-driven optimization is a top priority for many Canadian business leaders...

Thriving amid Canada’s tech talent shortage

With today’s tight labour market, rising customer demands, fast-evolving cyber threats...

Staying protected and compliant in an evolving IT landscape

Canadian businesses have changed remarkably and quickly over the last few...

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now