June 9, 2022 1.11 pm

How Lincoln council is tracking you in city centre… using your mobile

New sensors improving accuracy of data

Data collection devices installed around the centre of Lincoln are helping the council to track visitor numbers more accurately.

New Geo-Sense devices record visitors’ Media Access Control (MAC) addresses from their phones and turns them into alternative unique numbers in a bid to prevent double counting, a report before the City of Lincoln Council’s Performance Scrutiny Committee said.

It is hoped the new devices, first installed in November 2020 with three more added in 2021, improve the accuracy of data previously collected through the monitoring of CCTV, beam sensors and manual street counts.

Seven sensors have so far been installed, with further plans for additional devices along the Brayford to monitor waterfront events.

The locations include:

  • Castle Square
  • High Street (junction of Corporation Street)
  • High Street (outside Boots)
  • City Square
  • Sincil Street
  • High Street (outside Magistrate Court)
  • High Street (near Sibthorpe Street)

A presentation before the committee, however, reassured members it is “impossible” for the council or the data collection agency to identify individuals and that all data collection was in line with GDPR.

The sensors allow the council to monitor where shoppers or other visitors are going, with live footfall data. It can show the busiest times of day and how long visitors dwelled in an area, alongside weather data.

The data can also be compared with other areas of the country.

An image showing visitor journeys around Lincoln. | Image: City of Lincoln Council

Example screenshots for instance, show that in March this year, footfall had increased by 15.73% on February, with 85% of those being returning visitors.

The busiest “zone” during that time was High Street – South, while the busiest period was between 2-3pm on Saturday, March 19.

The council hopes the data will not only monitor footfall recovery post COVID-19 but that it will also help businesses, event organisers and applications for extra government funding.