What is mobility data, and why is it important?

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Mobility and footfall datasets have grown exponentially in recent years. With Google and Apple changing the landscape for mobile devices, the prevalence of mobility data has skyrocketed.

The quality and diversity of mobility data accessible to people and organizations have increased as technology continues to evolve at an extraordinary pace. But what exactly is mobility data? Where does it come from, and how can you use it to your advantage?

What is mobility data?

Mobility data records how people and technologies exist and interact with their surroundings and includes footfall, catchment regions, dwell-time analysis, and customer journey mapping, and more.

Footfall

Footfall is the number of people entering a specific location, like a business, during a particular period of time. Footfall data helps measure the effect of architectural changes, marketing campaigns, and more.

Catchment regions

A catchment region, also called a catchment area, is the geographical area that a business or organization draws customers or members from. A catchment region’s size and shape can vary widely as it’s defined by how accessible the location is as well as the distance to competitors or comparable services.

Dwell-time analysis

Simply put, dwell-time analysis examines the time that visitors spend in a location, region, or, at its most granular, how long they spend in a specific part of a store or facility. This helps evaluate customer engagement and enables companies to build more engaging customer experiences.

Customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping looks not just at where customers go, but how they get there. Knowing the paths customers take inside and outside a location helps optimize store layouts, identify mobility trends, and, at a higher level, know how to select new sites or plan future construction.

Mobility data is typically visualized in charts or heat maps, such as below, to better understand trends in the information.

mobility data
Source: https://ai.googleblog.com/2019/11/new-insights-into-human-mobility-with.html

Understanding human mobility is critical in many industries — first and foremost in retail and real estate. By analyzing movement patterns and behaviors of people through a particular store, location, or region these industries can pull deep insights that impact everything from weekly sales and marketing promotion to expansion plans and site selection or risk assessment.

Mobility analysis is also useful for a wide variety of use cases including building urban and transportation infrastructure,  predicting diseases, understanding people's reactions to conflict and natural catastrophes, and many other vital disciplines.

Previously, cutting-edge mobility data depended on cell carrier records or location "check-ins" and was only available in restricted regions — where the telecom provider operated. However, population flows worldwide are now collected from multiple sources. By leveraging machine learning and AI, mobility data can be sourced from dozens of inputs including things like  bike-sharing and ride sharing, and new modes of access, such as travel planners or smart tickets.

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Where does mobility data come from?

People move, and how they move - on foot, bike, vehicle, or train - leaves a digital trace.

Mobility data can be sourced from both first- and third-party data, and the sources are constantly evolving with technology and behavioral trends.

gps data
Source: https://www.wired.com/story/twitter-location-data-gps-privacy/

Common Sources of Mobility Data

  • Traffic Cameras
  • GPS data
  • Foot traffic counters
  • Public Transportation
  • Rideshare and as-a-Service Transportation providers (e.g. dockless bikes and scooters)
  • Social Media Tagging
  • Application Usage
  • Wifi Beacons

When aggregated to show population trends and movements, these data points become incredibly valuable to organizations of all types.

The benefits of mobility data

There are considerable benefits to business to collecting mobility data as this data is now a critical component of broader location and business intelligence efforts.

  1. Footfall data
    Mobility data helps to understand footfall traffic in a particular area. The information is valuable for commercial planning, real estate selection, investments, and marketing opportunities. 
  2. Demographic trends
    Mobility data helps to understand trends and patterns of footfall and vehicle traffic. You can split these based on geographical areas, age, gender, and other factors, helping to understand the audience before making decisions. 
  3. Discovering and predicting trends
    Mobility data helps augment decision-making by uncovering and predicting existing and growing trends in behavior. By quantifying the local market size, catchment area, and footfall traffic your business can discover opportunities based on actual data rather than "gut feel."
  4. Future forecasting
    Mobility data can show the historical movements in particular areas, putting you in a position to predict the future regarding revenue. Such data is pivotal in retail estate planning and investment opportunities.
  5. Benchmarking
    Mobility and footfall data can compare places of interest with peers and competitors to gain a more accurate view of performance.
  6. Adding context to data
    Integrating mobility data with other datasets, such as transactional information, can show the precise impact of footfall traffic on your business.
  7. Deliver insights quickly
    Traditionally, businesses would use a manually counting method to gather mobility and footfall data. However, modern techniques such as cameras, GPS, tagging, and sensors allow for real-time insights. You can make quick decisions rather than waiting for the data to be collected.

Use cases for human mobility data

There are plenty of use cases for mobility data. We have highlighted some of the top ones below.

Government

While firms profited from comparable data before Covid-19, it wasn't until the pandemic that it was the center of worldwide conversation, primarily due to big tech's engagement. To assist governments worldwide, Google and Apple made high-quality mobility data reports available for free to give insights into people's movements and help limit the spread of coronavirus throughout their populations.

Understanding population movements allowed governments to better understand how Covid-19 was affecting communities and put measures in place to keep their communities safe and prevent the disease from spreading.

Retail Planning

Mobility data reveals how your targeted populations move, where they come from, how far they travel, and how long they may remain in any area. These metrics are crucial to understanding and forecasting purchasing habits and projected spending.

You can utilize mobility data to discover a wealth of information about your region, location, town, city, or even street, which can significantly aid your positioning and planning efforts. Mobility data can be used to discover location hotspots - areas where people prefer to assemble - and identify behavioral trends or business opportunities.

Site Planning

Investors can use mobility data to understand the best location for their next site. They want to understand the local community and broader population when formalizing an investment opportunity. Mobility data can point towards peak retail times, vital catchment areas for a niche, and competitor behavior. Combining everything helps to select a new location for a business confidently.

Top mobility data providers

As its usefulness grows, the number of mobility data providers grows as well. Before choosing one, it’s important to understand what capabilities are important to you. Some key features might include regions covered, types of data available, API access, and data integration capabilities. Below are some of the top mobility data providers today, along with a look at how they stack up.

Unacast

The Unacast mobility data is sourced from multiple inputs and cleaned and stabilized by machine learning to provide robust data sets. When paired with our platform, mobility analysis is not only more accessible, but delivers deep insights.

Coverage

US Only

Types of Data

Foot traffic, cross-visitation, trade areas, migration patterns

Data Integration?

On top of our API-based integration, we can also help you process the location data you’ve already gathered while maintaining security and privacy compliance

API Available?

Yes

BlueFox

BlueFox provides a modern, cloud-based solution with a robust API that allows integration with third-party (3P) systems.

Coverage

Global

Types of Data

Footfall, Dwell-time analysis, Catchment areas, Customer journey mapping

Data Integration?

BlueFox data is available for integration via the APIs

API Available?

RESTful APIs with support for webhooks and push architecture

Carto

Designed for modern location intelligence efforts, Carto is a cloud-native GIS product that was designed to integrate with a modern tech stack.

Coverage

Global

Types of Data

Footfall, Dwell-time analysis, Catchment areas, Customer journey mapping

Data Integration?

Integrates with major cloud and big data platforms

API Available?

Yes

Cherre

Cherre focuses on the real estate and insurance industry to identify actionable data patterns and opportunities faster than the market. The ability to add third-party and internal real estate data pipelines to a management and analytics platform allows businesses to make decisions about affluent or densely-populated areas with demographics that represent their target audience.

Coverage

Global

Types of Data

Footfall, Dwell-time analysis, Catchment areas

Data Integration?

120 Partner-enabled data integrations available

API Available?

Yes

CleverMaps

The CleverMaps platform is an analytics platform designed to bridge business and location intelligence efforts. Multiple types of data are available in their data marketplace.

Coverage

Global, dependent on data sourced from their data marketplace

Types of Data

Dependent on data sourced

Data Integration?

Connect customer or CM data via DB connector, ETL tools, or the API

API Available?

Integrates via the API and customer-built apps or embeds with supported BI platforms

Placer AI

Placer AI gives you unprecedented visibility into consumer foot traffic. The company harnesses mobile data from millions of devices and applies the latest tools to generate accurate insights and behavioral predictions for any store or location.

Coverage

US Only

Types of Data

Footfall, Dwell-time analysis, Catchment areas, Customer journey mapping

Data Integration?

Via API or automated bulk download feeds

API Available?

Integrates via the API and customer-built apps

SafeGraph

SafeGraph has a mission to grant open access to geospatial datasets like points of interest and foot traffic. They work to empower firms with better analytics and geolocation intelligence.

Coverage

Global

Types of Data

Footfall, Dwell-time analysis, Catchment areas, Customer journey mapping

Data Integration?

Via specific partners

API Available?

Places API fetches POI data

Snowflake

Snowflake is a data marketplace offering foot traffic data from multiple providers in both raw and curated forms.

Coverage

Global, dependant on data source selected

Types of Data

Dependent on data source

Data Integration?

Multiple tools and partners for data ingestion and integration

API Available?

SQL RESTful API available

Veraset

Focused on gathering, curating, and delivering high quality mobility data, they provide raw and pre-processed population movement datasets.

Coverage

Global

Types of Data

Footfall, Dwell-time analysis, Catchment areas, Customer journey mapping

Data Integration?

None, delivers raw data regularly

API Available?

No

Get started with mobility data

Book a meeting with Unacast to see how we can deliver innovative and dynamic demographic, location, and trade area data. Work with a team of data scientists to get the perfect view from one of the most accurate sources in the industry. If you are ready to level up your data game, speak to Unacast today

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