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Commercial Opportunities for Passive Location Data

As communication service providers (CSPs) implement sophisticated location technologies to comply with regulatory obligations, many are investigating associated revenue opportunities to help recover costs. Passive location capabilities consisting of analytics on bulk-collected, anonymized location data, for example, can generate commercial value using information that is currently available to the CSP. Such passive uses are distinct from active location technology, which targets specific devices of interest to resolve their locations in real time.

The potential use cases for passive location technology are significant, made even more so through additional features like geofencing, which uses high-accuracy passive location data to track the presence of people around a specific point or area of interest at a given time. With this capability, CSPs can target subscribers in a given area with SMS-based alerts or various types of multichannel communication. CSPs can develop their own passive location business models, or they can create service offerings for commercial customers, such as selling retailers ads targeting subscribers near their store.

In the aggregate, passive location information can also reveal a wealth of insight about how people move through and interact with their physical environments. For example, concentrations of people within a public space could be tracked over the course of a day, week, or year – information a CSP can offer municipal authorities to help optimize design when implementing new infrastructure projects, developments, and more.

Targeted Location-Based Marketing and Planning

The physical locations and movements of people can be used to guide or refine marketing efforts. For example, retailers often perform customer traffic analysis within their stores to optimize the placement of displays and maximize sales. Traditionally, many such solutions rely on cameras for this customer-movement data, which inherently limits coverage and analytic capabilities. Using mobile network-based passive location, the scope of location information can not only be expanded in the store itself as well as beyond its walls and into its immediate vicinity, but the data itself is more efficiently ingested into a wide variety of analytic and visualization platforms.

Customer movements can be observed before and after visiting retail locations, providing additional insights and context about buying behavior such as associations with nearby entertainment, eating, or other retail establishments. Those insights can power co-marketing opportunities that range from promotions to pop-up stores, generating potential revenue from a deeper understanding of customer behavior. Location information can be used to improve the placement of new stores, signage, or advertising based on customer traffic to reach the greatest number of people, increasing return on investment. Moreover, it can be used to quantify the results of marketing efforts using a comparison of load profiles before, during, and after advertising campaigns.

The potential to guide investments using passive location extends to infrastructure planning more broadly. For example, insights about traffic volumes and patterns over time can help guide the development of public transportation and optimize scheduling. Insights about the catchment areas in public facilities and how people move in and out of them can yield insights about the best placement of entrances, exits, information kiosks, restrooms, and other features. Population flows can be studied at high granularity or up to the postal-code level to make informed decisions about development. The corresponding improvements can help public spaces operate more efficiently and safely.

Collection and Analysis Mechanisms for Passive Location

SS8’s platform includes ARCdata, a tool for passive location intelligence that helps CSPs capture this information and put it to commercial use. It is built to operate at massive scale, ingesting millions of records per second. ARCdata connects to network signaling events via mechanisms that include sensors, operations support system (OSS) logs, or call data records (CDRs) for a constant stream of information about subscribers on the network. The solution’s passive location capabilities can either extract coarse (Cell-ID) location information from these sources or use radio access network (RAN) logs to calculate Enhanced Cell-ID (E-CID) location for greater accuracy.

ARCdata operates across network generations, from 2G to 5G and beyond, and with both home subscribers and roaming users within the CSP network. Detailed analysis of the bulk data collected can be performed using SS8’s Intellego XT Globe interface. An API also streamlines the ability of third-party applications to integrate with the location platform and consume this data programmatically, increasing the overall flexibility of the solution and enhancing support for additional use cases.

The ability to manipulate this data and combine it with other sources provides a robust set of capabilities. Data visualizations such as heat maps and histograms increase the intuitive value of the information and help make it more actionable. The location history of an individual device or set of devices can enable cumulative insights or provide for targeted research as needs require, and functionalities such as adding notes to specific locations increases effectiveness.

The scope of potential uses for this technology is only beginning to be mapped out, and laws and regulations to protect privacy must be established. In some regions, for example, a CSP must stop collecting passive data from any device that remains in a single location longer than a certain time – the assumption being it is the subscriber’s home. Still, mandated location intelligence capabilities are critical to help first responders do their job, and the CSPs that must implement these solutions have great potential to offset some of those costs with compliant, passive location for commercial opportunities.

About Javier D’Agostino

Javier is the Sales Director for the LATAM region for SS8 and has over 20 years of experience as a sales leader. He is responsible for the company’s strategic expansion into Communication Service Providers and Law Enforcement Agencies (Intelligence and Security). He has a BS in Information System Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of CEMA. To learn more about Javier, view his LinkedIn profile here.



About Simon Mason

Simon Mason is a Solutions Architect at SS8 with over 25 years of experience in software engineering and telecommunications. With an emphasis in network location solutions, he is part of SS8’s LocationWise product team, helping law enforcement, government agencies, and emergency services locate and respond to public safety incidents. He holds a Masters in Computer Science from California State University and a BS in Industrial Engineering from California Polytechnic State University. To learn more about Simon, view his LinkedIn profile here.


About SS8 Networks

As a leader in Lawful and Location Intelligence, SS8 helps make societies safer. Our commitment is to extract, analyze, and visualize the critical intelligence that gives law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and emergency services the real-time insights that help save lives. Our high performance, flexible, and future-proof solutions also enable mobile network operators to achieve regulatory compliance with minimum disruption, time, and cost. SS8 is trusted by the largest government agencies, communications providers, and systems integrators globally.

Intellego® XT monitoring and data analytics portfolio is optimized for Law Enforcement Agencies to capture, analyze, and visualize complex data sets for real-time investigative intelligence.

LocationWise delivers the highest audited network location accuracy worldwide, providing active and passive location intelligence for emergency services, law enforcement, and mobile network operators.

Xcipio® mediation platform meets the demands of lawful intercept in any network type and provides the ability to transcode (convert) between lawful intercept handover versions and standard families.

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