Phone Tracking to Increase in Shopping Centres
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Phone Tracking to Increase in Shopping Centres

 


 

For years now we’ve been aware that cameras follow us around the local shopping centre, but now we can also be tracked using our cell phones while we browse and shop.

The Rundle Mall in Adelaide has considered mobile phone tracking as part of the $30 million design that it has undertaken. The management have claimed that it will enable stores to understand more about their customers and how they shop, rather than being focused on security.

Ian Darbyshire, the head of the Rundle Mall’s Management Authority, claimed that new tracking in the Mall will use the system when it hosts various events to see which parts of the event were popular for future organisations. 

While it may seem like something alien to a lot of Australians, it’s worth remembering that Amazon and eBay are just two online stores that already track our every click. The way that websites are programmed gives the management of those websites access to statistics which include how long we have browsed a certain page, which pages are the most popular, and which products have the highest click-to-sale ratio.

Companies who sell the tracking systems have said that their intentions are to allow high street stores to compete with online retailers by targeting popular and successful products, filling a desperate need that many stores have.

The tracking will be completely anonymous, and will only be presented to stores in the form of an aggregated total, rather than individual’s browsing habits. In fact that way the systems work is that the system itself works to remove any personal trace from the data, so that no personal information whatsoever is stored by the companies who provide this service.

The question over how Australian shoppers will deal with the new tracking system has mixed answers. Some have said that as long as it’s an aggregated total and the statistics are only used to help retailers on the high street compete, there is no problem. 

Others, however, have called the tracking system “intrusive” and have suggested that it’s too close to what Orwell may have been warning us about.

The system itself will have no ability for users to opt in or out of being tracked, and there are currently two systems being offered by companies. The first involves using the wi-fi signal that a customer’s mobile phone gives off, whereas the second uses the mobile network signal.

It has been made clear, however, that neither system will have any access to your phone or personal documents. 

One aspect that has concerned some citizens is that there is no obligation for shopping malls to tell you that you are being tracked, and those who distribute and run the systems keep the location of where the systems are in place completely secret. 

One company providing the system already has 20 companies who use the system, with more set to follow suit. While opinion is divided, one thing is clear: security cameras were just the beginning of monitoring in shopping malls.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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