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Technology & Innovation

Surveillance Cameras to Gather Shopping Data

New software is turning surveillance cameras into a wealth of consumer behavior data. By tracking customer flow throughout the day, shops can better understand what their clients want.

What’s the Latest Development?

That surveillance camera over your shoulder, once there exclusively to protect you and the shops around it, could be being used to gather a wealth of consumer data. New software, designed so that it cannot identify single individuals, can process raw footage from security cameras to “measure the length of the line at checkout, and produce static or animated visualizations showing how people moved around a store.” There are an estimated 40 million security cameras in the US that could be used to gather shopping data.

What’s the Big Idea?

The technology takes an old Internet practice, tracking customer behavior when they visit online shops like Amazon, and brings it to the physical world of local shops and shopping malls. While Internet companies have relied on tracking data to tailor advertisements to individual shoppers, small businesses are often at a loss to tell whether a particular campaign has succeeded in creating a new base of customers who will return to the store later. The software has been called the ‘Google Analytics for the real world’.

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