Malls set to track shoppers via cell phones
Wed, 23 Nov 2011 00:00:00 GMT —
Time to face the facts. You are simply a data point that needs to be tracked so that businesses can mold the info surrounding your shopping habits into a more effective message that will make you buy more of their stuff.
As absurd as that statement may sound...at least two shopping centers plan on doing just that starting Black Friday...and they'll do it via signals put out from cell phones even if you don't say it's okay ahead of time.
Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. will be tracking guests movements as they traverse their facilities. While the data that's collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers' paths from store to store.
The management company of both malls, Forest City Commercial Management, tells CNN Money that personal data is not being tracked."We won't be looking at singular shoppers," said Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, vice president of digital strategy for Forest City. "The system monitors patterns of movement. We can see, like migrating birds, where people are going to."
The company is preemptively notifying customers by hanging small signs around the shopping centers telling customers they can opt out by turning off their phones.
The tracking system, called FootPath Technology, works through a series of antennas positioned throughout the shopping center that capture the unique identification number assigned to each phone (similar to a computer's IP address), and tracks its movement throughout the stores.
The system can't take photos or collect data on what shoppers have purchased. And it doesn't collect any personal details associated with the ID, like the user's name or phone number. That information is fiercely protected by mobile carriers, and often can be legally obtained only through a court order.
"We don't need to know who it is and we don't need to know anyone's cell phone number, nor do we want that," Shriver-Engdahl said.
What do you think about the cell tracking technology? If you entered a mall and saw the sign, would you turn around? Would you turn off your phone? Or would you press on as usual and allow your path through the mall be tracked and logged?