I’m surprised the tin foil hat wearers haven’t been all over this one, but here’s an interesting company out of Gosport, recently moved to Port Solent, Portsmouth:
Path Intelligence, a company based in Portsmouth (UK) install networks of radio detectors in shopping centres and follow the path of customers through units using the unique signatures of their individual mobile phones. Given that most people nowadays carry a phone it seems to be a pretty good way of accurately obtaining live footfall information.
The system was first used in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth where it measured interaction between stores, store types and the movements between the centre and Spinnaker Tower.
Update: Looks like the tin foil hats are out, with articles from The Times and The Register (and undoubtedly many others) covering the chilling effects of data aggregation. Fellow blogger Chris has also written about it, and plans to switch his phone on and off.
Me? This just seems like a much more sophisticated version of the footfall counters you get at shop entrances, and the company assures us that only aggregated information is stored which cannot be linked back to CCTV images. It’s up to you whether you believe them or not, of course.