Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reality Mining: Predicting Where You’ll Go and What You’ll Like

The New York Times published an interesting news today, in its section of technology, about a predictive analytics tool, called Macrosense, released earlier this month by Sense Networks, a software analytics company based in New York City.

According Sense Networks: "Macrosense is the world's first platform capable of collecting and analyzing massive amounts of anonymous, aggregate location data in real-time" and "Macrosense applies complex statistical algorithms to sift through the growing heaps of data about location and to make predictions or recommendations on various questions — where a company should put its next store, for example".

The Key Features of Macrosense are: Real-Time Activity Analysis, Powerful Analytics, Historical Data Normalization, Contextual Data Inputs,and Flexible Interfaces and Visualizations.

Sandy Pentland,co-founder of Sense Networks, said that Macrosense tool lets companies engage in “reality mining”, term coined by her.

Reality mining raises questions about privacy, but according the company, it is interested only in aggregate data and that it’s looking for broad patterns, not the specific behavior of individuals.

Sense Networks also announced another tool, called Citysense, defined by them as: an innovative mobile application for local nightlife discovery and social navigation, answering the question, "Where is everybody?" Citysense shows the overall activity level of the city, top activity hotspots, and places with unexpectedly high activity, all in real-time. Then it links to Yelp and Google to show what venues are operating at those locations.

They are testing Citysense in the city of San Francisco, California; and it is currently available on BlackBerry devices and will be released for the Apple iPhone soon.

I think the use of predictive analytics will allow several kind of applications like that, and that is just beginning.

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