Business Improvement District (BID) / City / Development / News
Jul 12, 2023
Downtown Arlington Introduces Use of Innovative Foot Traffic Research Database
Downtown Arlington is a nonprofit organization dedicated to activating key spaces downtown, programming events for residents and visitors, and introducing new businesses to the community. We accomplish these tasks through active listening and encouraging downtown enthusiasts to share their opinions through surveys and good old-fashioned vision boards. However, this past year, Downtown Arlington has introduced a new form of research, known as Placer.ai, to better implement our organization’s goals and better serve the greater community.
What is Placer.ai?
Placer.ai is an analytical foot traffic software designed to provide key insights to retail developers, commercial real estate, hospitality, and economic development companies in order to highlight potential markets and new audiences. Founded in 2016 by a team of four friends, Placer.ai helps retailers and investors gain a deeper understanding of their business and supplies them with the tools to make informed decisions through actionable research.
How it Works
Placer.ai uses a combination of advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence, and location data from users’ mobile apps to predict the visitor journey to and from designated geographic destinations. In layman’s terms, when you download certain apps and accept the terms and conditions, you’re consenting to have your device information sent to third-party organizations such as Placer.ai. However, before the data reaches these companies, it is stripped of all personally identifiable information such as name, address, contact information, and other individual identifiers to prevent your identity from being compromised or exploited.
After Placer receives the data, it is then accumulated around specific areas of interest using a K-anonymity of 50 to preserve individual privacy. K-anonymity is the concept of “hiding in the crowd,” where individuals’ data is pooled into a larger group with a set threshold—in this case, 50. Members of these groups share similar attributes, therefore the information distributed to third parties could apply to any one member, thus masking the identity of any specific person in question. These smaller groups function as a sample size for the algorithm to provide predictions and insights for a broader audience.
How We Use it
Placer.ai has proven to be an extremely useful tool in examining the needs of the downtown community as well as determining the success of commercial and entertainment ventures. For example, using Placer.ai we discovered that residents and visitors desired a dog park within walking distance from where they shop, work, and live; this information was deduced from research showing the great number of devices leaving Downtown Arlington to find dog-friendly parks elsewhere. This is what we call a “void analysis.” Using this information, we were able to recruit the help of the renowned organization Project for Public Spaces in bringing this vision to life. Keep your eyes peeled for more information regarding this project!
Other key insights include, but are not limited to:
Number of visitors
Visitors’ favorite places outside of the targeted venue of interest
Visitor journey before and after specified date and time ranges
Hourly visit overviews
Length of stay
Placer.ai is a tremendously beneficial platform for Downtown Arlington and our stakeholders. Using the data collected, our organization partners with various downtown businesses, city departments, and outside agencies to ensure we continue bringing quality enjoyment and recreation and find new ways to advance the district.
The team at Placer.ai is comprised of leading professionals in cybersecurity, data science, and engineering, however, their focus remains on the people. They believe that privacy “is not only a core requirement for [their] technical solutions, but as the cornerstone of [their] business.” With such a heavy emphasis on security and confidentiality, Placer.ai has carved a unique industry identity of technical advancements through the eyes of the involved parties. Other privacy highlights include, but are not limited to:
Never selling user-level data
Data is stripped of identifiers, such as mobile advertising identifiers
Does not provide any data relating to sensitive places, such as military facilities, schools or facilities for minors, places of worship, rehabilitation centers, or women’s health facilities
Uses end-to-end encryption to protect data in transit and at rest
Maps never represent the actual location of any one particular device
About Downtown Arlington
The Downtown Arlington Management Corporation is a private, non-profit community development organization whose purpose is to forge alliances between property owners, business interests, residents, and the City of Arlington to improve and enhance the economic vitality and overall environment of Downtown Arlington. Professionally staffed and governed by a Board of Directors composed of a cross-section of stakeholders and community partners, the 501(c)(3) manages services and operations in Downtown Arlington while promoting economic stability, growth, and community life within this unique neighborhood including the Arlington Cultural Arts District, designated by the State of Texas in 2016. Visit DowntownArlington.org to discover the businesses, events, and activities in Downtown Arlington.