Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Location tracking visitors to Korean beaches

Korea is using location monitoring of smartphone users to track beachgoers attendance at various Korean beaches this summer in real-time, to better plan for numbers and provide proper numbers of amenities.

Real-time snapshot of users of Haeundae beach. Screenshot: SPHinfo/Carto

Here is a snapshot of a day at Haeundae beach in Busan, on what looks like a surely brisk February 12, 2019 day. You can see from the image the relative hotspots with high density plus things like the spread of gender, age, etc.

This particular monitoring system seems to be run via SKT so I'd assume only data on SKT cusomters is included. I'm a bit curious however about how this personal data is compiled. I didn't see an exact answer, but I would guess from records of the service customers.

So if I were at the beach, the cell towers would get a ping that customer # 010-XXXX-XXXX, who according to service records is a male in a certain age bracket, is triangulated to be at that spot right now and has been for the last 2 hours. It wouldn't be hard to compile this type of customer data as they've clearly done here, and it's interesting to see this Big Data used in this way. I guess I just wonder if customers realize this sort of tracking is going on. We love it when we're in an emergency or when our phone is lost/stolen, but I doubt many people really think about the fact that KT/SKT/LG can reconstitute your movement history. Great for solving crimes but I always wonder what could happen if a friend slipped $50 to a worker with access to this info to keep a tab on his wife or what not.

This seems to use SKT customer data, but what could really make this amazing is if they used Naver logged-in data. You could potentially not only track current numbers/ages/genders of people on the beach, but dive into what their interests are (are a large percentage searching for raw fish restaurants right now? Good time to display an ad for a local place or even alert the restaurant to expect customers soon).

There is also a news video about this technology:
[단독] 언제 얼마나 몰려올지…"해운대는 다 알고 있다" : 네이버 뉴스

According to the video, they've gleaned other interesting tidbits from users phones, such as:

Most popular Korean east-coast beaches overall

  1. 속초
  2. 경포
  3. 설악
  4. 천진
  5. 송정

Meanwhile, there remains a generation gap among where beachgoers tend to congregate:

  • Those in their 20s prefer 경포대 because of a greater variety of fun activities (whatever those are).
  • Those in their 30s prefer 동산 because of its shallow beach which is seen by parents as safer for kids
  • Those in their 40s prefer 죽왕면 and those in 50s prefer 주문진 for the restaurants. 

Pretty neat that you can glean so much info from people but also a bit of a creepy reminder that those rectangles in your pocket are saying more about you than you may realize.


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