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Sensors Track Outdoor Danish Holiday Market

Merchants in Aalborg, a city in northern Denmark, have deployed a wide array of sensors throughout their annual Christmas market to track the movements of shoppers, according to VentureBeat.

For the 2014 holiday season, the Aalborg City Business Association has installed BlipTrack, a system made by Denmark-based BLIP Systems, to get better metrics on such things as the number of attendees, where they park, and whether the market is increasing revenues for merchants. The primary goal is to make sure the annual event is worth the $160,000 cost.

Sensors have been deployed throughout the holiday market, where they track the flow of pedestrians in real time by collecting data from Wi-Fi devices such as mobile phones and tablets. That lets the system know how long people take to move from one area to another, how long they linger and which shops they visit.

The system maintains privacy by anonymizing and encrypting all information lifted from the Wi-Fi devices — a critical distinction that allows the system to stay in compliance with Europe’s strict privacy regulations, according to BLIP and the the business association.

That data then lets the business association better understand what’s working and what isn’t about the holiday market. Information is shared with merchants so they can better understand retail browsing habits and buying patterns and can adjust times they open and close and the number of staff they have on hand.

The system will remain in place for four years. After the holidays, the city will use it to track traffic, parking and other urban planning issues.

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