Telecommunication companies are sitting on a gold mine. With the prevalence of mobile devices in our every day life, for example reports from Google IO are that 400 million Android devices have been activated at a rate of 1,000,000 activations per day, the data that we generate as a collective group is phenomenal. Phone companies are collecting all sorts of data from location to browsing history to who you phone and message.
Telefonia plans to set up a group called “Telefonica Digital Insights” to explore this data and link the data together to create anonymous profiles based on demographics and location. Using the data they will be able to sell fine grain locational data (up to hundredths of meters) to retailers, for example, of certain demographics groups frequenting the area. This data combined with footfall data that retailers already have would allow them to see where demographics go when they are outside. The one controversial decision is that there will be no opt-out of this service. If your’e one of the 23 million UK subscribers then you’re already collecting the data for them. But they are not the only company to use this sort of data to understand the demographics using their services.
Verizon, a US telecommunications provider, are also selling anonymised personal data. One astute user noticed a clause in the terms and conditions which allows then to sell the data derived and collected through normal use of service but unlike Telefonica, customers have 30 days to opt-out of the service.
It remains unclear what the data will show and how these companies will start to make value from the analysis of data but it is clear that our normal day to day activities can be linked and we can be used as sensors. The original story can be read on BBC News.