Cloud Managed vs Cloud Analytics

When discussing wifi hardware options with customers, sometimes they become confused about whether or not they need a Cloud Managed access point solution to use a cloud based WiFi Analytics access point solution.

There are also customers with security concerns about their “local network data being in the cloud” when it comes to WiFi Analytics.

So let's start at the beginning.

Cloud Managed vs On-Premise Solutions

Cloud Managed hardware shouldn’t be confused with a Cloud based WiFi Analytics solution.

A Cloud Managed controller solution is one where the access points are managed from a cloud based controller.  Meraki, Aerohive, Aruba Central, and Ruckus Cloud are good examples of this. When the access points first boot up, they connect to their respective wireless controllers that are controlled through a website.

The real alternative for a Cloud Managed access point system is an On-Premise access point system.  On-Premise controller solutions are what most IT professionals think of when they hear the term wireless controller.  They’ve been the standard for over a decade now. In an on-premise wireless controller solution, the access points connect to the wireless controller on the same network or related VLAN.   This usually means that the access points and the wireless controller are in the same physical building. Good examples of this are most Cisco wireless controllers, Aruba Airwave, Ruckus Zone Director, or Ubiquiti.

Cloud Management has a lot of benefits.  For instance, distributed access points can be easily managed and changed by a single administrator, despite the physical distance between access points.

A good example is if you’re managing 7 locations across 3 states, and you need to make a default WPA2 encryption key change across all of them, with an on-premise solution, you’d be driving to all 7 locations to change the key.  However, with a cloud managed solution, you can easily change the encryption key across all access points, all from your home location.

Cloud based WiFi Analytics Solutions

Cloud based WiFi Analytics Solutions are independent from how the access points are managed or controlled.  Yes, most WiFi Analytics solutions are hosted in the cloud, however, they are NOT dependent on using a Cloud Managed controller solution.

The ability for an access point vendor to be a strong candidate for WiFi Analytics really has to do with the robustness of the API available from the controller.  The API and integration options that a controller provides to 3rd party analytics or internal development teams is what designates its ability to be useful for WiFi Analytics.

For example, both Meraki and Aerohive have strong API support that they make available to customer’s internal development teams and 3rd party analytics companies.   Both Meraki and Aerohive are Cloud Managed solutions, and they’re also are good WiFi Analytics hardware choices because of their integration options.

However, Aruba and Ruckus are also widely supported by the WiFi Analytics community.  Aruba has both an on-premise solution, Airware and ALE, and also a cloud managed solution, Aruba Central.  While Ruckus has the Zone Director on-premise solution with vSpot, and a cloud managed Ruckus Cloud solution.

Interestingly enough, both Aruba and Ruckus’s on-premise solutions are currently more widely supported by WiFi Analytics companies than their cloud managed options because of the robustness of their on-premise APIs.

It should now be clear the difference between Cloud Management and Cloud based WiFi Analytics solutions.  A Cloud Managed controller solution is not required to have Cloud based WiFi Analytics.

Security Concerns

We have customers with concerns about their network management being in the cloud.

It should be noted that even with a cloud managed solution, like Meraki, Aerohive, Aruba Central, or Ruckus cloud, no local network traffic ever goes to the vendor.  Only information about the network, like devices, uptime, etc. goes to these cloud management solutions.  But for those that choose not to use cloud based controllers because they’d like a completely on-premise solution for managing the network, you still have options for WiFi Analytics.

This leads some IT managers to tell us, "if I don’t trust the router companies with my network information, why should I trust a WiFi Analytics company"?

And the answer is that you don’t have to.  Solutions like Who’s On My WiFi completely anonymize all device information before it gets to our cloud platform.  This means that you can still have WiFi Analytics intelligence from your local on-premise solution, without any cloud provider ever seeing any of the real MAC Address information of your visitors.

Yes, you can keep a completely on-premise wireless controller solution, and you can still provide WiFi Analytics intelligence to your boardroom without any other company ever seeing your real visitor information.

A Brief History of Location Analytics [Infographic]

history of location analyticsA Brief History of Location Analytics

Location Analytics is using data from a physical location to learn something.  This article goes through a brief history of how this technology has changed over time.  Like any other analytics, its power grows exponentially with each source of data added. At it’s most basic level, location analytics is just counting what happens is a space. In that case, it’s as old as mathematics. The inventor of Location Analytics would be a Sumerian shop-keeper counting customers on an Abacus.


Fast-forward a few thousand years, and the idea of using maps to visualize data was not well-known. In 1854 a doctor not ironically named John Snow simultaneously invented epidemiology and geospatial intelligence. Dr. Snow was doing some detective work on a cholera outbreak. He super-imposed cholera cases on to a map of London and discovered a single well that appeared to be the focal point of an epidemic. Sure enough, the well was the source of the disease, and thus became the first documented case of geospatial intelligence.


The late 1800’s brought about industrialization and mechanization of many devices, including tally counters. As simple as it seems, the simple hand-held clicker counter did not exist until 1871, but it was quickly adopted in factories and the burgeoning retail industry.


The turn of the century brought new standards for businesses and automation. As corporations grew into international merchants, demand grew for analytics on trade. A particularly clever entrepreneur name Clarence Sanders dreamed of a completely self-service grocery store, and to do that he invented things to improve the store experience. One of those inventions was the turnstile. The turnstile combined with the mechanical counter made running totals of visitors counts an automated process.


World War I and II accelerated the development of technology, and location analytics was hugely influential, particularly in World War II. Geospatial Information was a burgeoning discipline that was growing with the advent of computers. Harvard pushed the research into academia with the Formation of the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis. That laboratory would close within a year, but it was soon followed by computer GIS laboratories all over the country. The Location Intelligence we know today was born.


Macro-level analytics is only part of this story, and people counting would still be in its infancy all the way into the 1970’s. Then, legend has it; a Canadian man used an infrared beam machine the size of a refrigerator to count each time the beam was broken, creating the first beam counter.


The next big leap in location analytics would come with the invention of thermal imaging counters and infrared beam counters. Both were released soon after the turn of the millennium. Stores were able to build reports on visitation at an affordable cost, making foot traffic a valuable data asset.


Before 2004, WiFi Access Points were proprietary technology owned by major corporations. Then, Linksys released the source code for its WRT54G series Access Points after a legal matter regarding GPL code.  The opensource community released the OpenWRT firmware for Linksys routers, allowing anyone to create router add-ons and firmware. This series of events lead to rapid development of new capabilities.


Chilispot made captive portals possible, and consumers were ready. Publicly available WiFi went from an exciting feature to an expected service. Businesses had the opportunity to grow revenue as well as collect information on the customers that visited their locations.


Splash pages aren’t the only great source of information from Access Points. AP probes can be collected to passively gather information on foot traffic without any interaction from customers. Even though AP Probes haven been used since WiFi’s inception, using them to count passersby was not patented until 2010 by Shopkick.

The year 2010 also brought the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Standard. Developers could make apps that passively communicate and report on consumer patterns with laser-precision detail. BLE beacons provide the most accurate detail on consumer foot traffic, with the trade-off of more difficult implementation.

Today Location Analytics uses multiple data sources to gain powerful insights for organizations from every industry. Modern WiFi analytics can be used in conjunction with GIS data to analyze consumer trends across regions or in a single store. There’s never been a more dynamic time to be in location analytics, and the future looks even brighter.

Why You Need Location Analytics

Location Analytics will be as familiar as cell phones within the next 10 years. The technology is not a quantum leap. Your cars won’t fly, and your merchandise won’t teleport to front doorsteps. The reason Location Analytics is so important is not that the technology is so advanced; it’s because it’s so simple.

You already have the hardware

You already have all of the information that Location Analytics can tell you, but you probably don’t know how to get it. Think about the Access Points that allow visitors and staff to connect to the WiFi network.  Some access points have GPS built-in, so it knows where it sits in space. It has a unique record for every visitor that walks by, even those that do not connect to the WiFi network. An access point knows how long visitors are there and it knows when they leave. When a person comes back, voila! They are already connected to the WiFi network. The Access Point remembers.

That isn’t all an Access Point knows.

WiFi Access Points can tell you what type of devices your visitors prefer. Are your visitors Samsung Galaxy owners or Apple Aficionados?  And with the addition of a Smart Splash Login screen, it is also possible to know things like demographic information, contact information, and more.  An Access Point can tell you who a customer is, when a customer comes back, and even compare visitation across multiple locations.

Link your Access Point to the CRM

Every business keeps track of their customers, whether they be retail shoppers, entertainment venue visitors, or clinic patients. A good set of records will track purchasing behavior for the lifetime of the customer. The database will include outreach numbers and email addresses, and any other relevant data your organization needs to know about the customers you serve.

To really connect with customers, you need more than their email address. People are full of frustrations and unmet needs when they visit your location, and they probably won't tell you what those needs are. It's the responsibility of businesses to find out where they can better serve their patrons.  

Let's take an example problem and see how location analytics can make a difference.

A local cafe thinks the construction down the street is causing them to lose customers.  But they’re not really sure. They know the number of cups of coffee that they’re selling have been down since the construction started, and they haven’t seen some of their regulars.  They’d like to ask their former regulars if the construction is the problem or something else, or to be able to tell their regulars once the construction is done if that’s the problem.  But most of their regulars pay with cash or card, and even though they know their first name, they have no means of contacting them.

By adding location intelligence and a smart splash page to their WiFi signup, this same cafe can know with hard data how many people used to walk past their store vs how many are walking past since the construction.  They could also know how long their customers used to stay at the cafe vs how long they’re staying now. And finally, they could collect contact information from their regulars and ask them if the construction was bothering them, or let them know once the construction is complete.  

It's not just existing customers you are challenged to serve. Future customers can be wooed by going just a little out of the way to show them you care.

Razor-Sharp Optimization

They say knowledge is power, and knowledge and real time actionable information is what location analytics provides. On large campuses that means understanding when and what buildings are used the most.  A facility manager can plan and optimize traffic flow to use space efficiently, saving money on lighting and air-conditioning.  Visitors can be measured by everything from revenue per hour to gross tonnage of trash produced.

Right now you have a good idea of how many people are coming and going to your location. Peak times are obvious. But, look a little deeper, and gut feelings lose their usefulness. What are your peak traffic density numbers, and what is the average dwell time of peak visitors? What percentage of visitors stay less than 15 minutes, and how soon will they come back? Using real numbers to answer these questions makes optimization a calculation rather than a guessing game. 

Smart Cities

We've posted about what makes a smart city, but this time let's talk about why smart cities are important. They're safer. City managers are already implementing municipal WiFi networks for emergency workers. Giving first responders access to foot traffic data can save lives.

Police look at behavior patterns all the time.  It's an old adage that as the heat goes up, so do crime rates. What about foot traffic? Traffic patterns are valuable data for understanding how and why people act the way they do. For police, that can mean the difference between whether or not a violent crime takes place.

First response

Emergency planning gets a boost from knowing how many people are in each part of the city by the time-of-day. Emergency response is prepared based on facility capacity and the total of those potentially affected by a disaster. The most effective evacuation routes will change according to the circumstances and time of day, but specific instructions can be sent to different people in the city based on where they are and what their best evacuation route is.

Firefighters and EMTs need to know who's in trouble and how to help them.  A raging fire can make that difficult, especially in a multi-residential building. A fire chief armed with data on the number of people last seen in the building can make a quick and informed decision on who needs to be deployed to an emergency. The best part? That call can be made from an internet connection without having to be on the scene. Faster, more intelligent decision-making is the future of emergency response.

The Complete Story

Integration is the future of data. Everything we touch affects something else. We measure things to improve, so the more we measure, the better we can make them.  There is now available a whole host of location based data that can be used to improve companies and communities. There are many details on this road that are complicated and difficult to solve, but the great hurdles have already been lept. Location Analytics is available now, and we can show you how to get started.

Aerohive plugin now available

aerohive plugin

Who’s On My WiFi is happy to announce the release of our new Aerohive Plugin.

Now anyone with Aerohive access points can connect directly to Who’s On My WiFi Analytics.  Who's On My WiFi Analytics offers additional insights and analysis with no additional hardware.  All that is required is a Hive Manager Select account as well as a Who's On My WiFi Analytics account.  The integration is seamless and can handle both single and multi-location systems.

The trend towards WiFi data being used to aid in business decision making is continuing.  Who's On My WiFi is excited to continue integrating with enterprise router solutions to help our customers make better decisions.

Aruba Plugin Now Available

Who’s On My WiFi is happy to announce the completion of our Aruba integration and the release of our new Aruba Plugin.

The East Meadow Public Library in East Meadow, New York became the first customer to use the new plugin.  They booted up their server last Wednesday morning and began receiving Who’s On My WiFi statistics without the use of an additional agent. Now anyone with an Aruba network can plug in directly to Who’s On My WiFi Analytics with no additional hardware.  All that is required is the Aruba Analytics Engine (ALE) Server, and a Who's On My WiFi Analytics account.

We would like to extend a big thanks to the IT and administrative team at East Meadow Library for working with us through the new offering.  Their feedback along the way allowed us to expedite the development of this addition.

Who’s On My WiFi CEO John Kerber said this about the integration “It was really great working with HP on this.  They were helpful and their staff was instrumental in getting this out in a timely fashion. Big thank you to Joe and Rocco at East Meadow as well.  We look forward to our partnership for years to come.”

Who’s On My WiFi is excited to continue partnering with enterprise router solutions in an effort to expand upon its product offering in a user friendly fashion.

New Demo Video

We've released a new demo video today.

The demo shows some of our Analytics system features and also how it is used to analyze physical spaces providing statistics on dwell time, return visitation rates, and more.

The Pivot

Who's On My WiFi has dramatically changed and improved since it's founding.

Originally starting off in the security space, we made the transition to Location Intelligence and WiFi Analytics back in 2015.

We've been so busy helping customers and improving the product since the pivot, that we're just recently telling people who don't know us what we now do when it comes to analyzing physical spaces.

This new demo video reflects our transition.


Privacy in the era of Big Data

Big data creates stories we couldn’t see before; subtle patterns formed from trillions of gigabytes of data sifting through servers and trickling out of algorithms, finally dispensed as neat and clean business metrics.

  • Doug from Seattle is ready to buy a hybrid. Start sending him financing offers.
  • Zeke in NYC is moving. Send coupons for home improvement stores.
  • Sarah in Cincinnati is likely pregnant. Change the content of her shopping ads to include diapers and cribs.

People have decided to lease out their innate desires in exchange for free content. Every click, like, and retweet is stored and aggregated by data behemoths to understand consumer behavior. We certainly don’t like to pay to view a website, so our behavior is tracked and stored in exchange for content.

Is Privacy a Human Right?

The European Union has made their stance clear with the GDPR’s strict rules on consent to data collection. The legal status of privacy is not so clear-cut in the United States.

To start, let’s get the facts straight: the US constitution does not guarantee anyone a right to privacy. It is implicitly granted in the Bill of Rights, including the right to free speech and the protection from unlawful searches and seizures. Privacy has several components to it:

  • Solitude
  • Secrecy
  • Anonymity
  • Individuality

That is, no one can intrude upon your space, force you to talk, reveal your identity, or impersonate you without your permission. Warren and Brandeis summarize it as “the right to be left alone.”

It’s challenging to translate those ideas into law. The GDPR is one of the most innovative attempts at securing these values as human rights, particularly with the “right to be forgotten.”

Is Privacy Necessary?

That entirely depends on your priorities. If you are a security officer trying to prevent threats, privacy is not a concern. If you are selling private consulting services, confidentiality is crucial to your business.

The issue is not black and white. People feel uncomfortable with being observed without their knowledge or express consent.  Free speech is the right to not only form and voice an opinion but also to keep your opinion to yourself. Imagine a world where everyone was forced to express their opinion on command; it would have a good deal more disagreement! The crucial 2nd element of privacy is the right to secrecy. No one should have to speak unless he or she chooses. The 5th amendment asserts this right.

We humans also crave our alone time. Despite an over-saturation of “interaction” provided by social media, people often feel more disconnected and isolated. Look no further than the failure of the open office as evidence for our need for privacy.

What is Digital Privacy?

All that said, what details are you leaking out by reading this post?

Every Internet-enabled device gives clues to its user.

  • Public IP Address - You disclose the IP Address that your current ISP assigns you to access the internet along with your approximate and sometimes accurate city, state, or zip code.
  • Screen Resolution - You disclose what size your screen is.
  • Browser - You disclose what browser you prefer and all of its extensions.
  • Language - You disclose the text you interpret and the languages you likely speak.
  • Operating System - You disclose your preference for Windows, Android, or iOS as your device.
  • Cookies - Your browser stores information based on the websites you visit. Often that information is used to give you targeted ads.

All of this information can be gleaned just by browsing a web page. What’s even more important is your personal information.  Social media accounts and email addresses are highly sought after by marketers. Their invention is recent, and we treat them trivially. Facebook accounts are often public, and we hand out email addresses to strangers all the time.

As you browse the Internet, websites will ask you to interact with their content on social media. These innocent share and comment plugins are tracking you, pushing your behavior back to Google or Facebook to learn your habits and tastes. It’s easy for the website to collect this information and do whatever they wish.

The result of all of this data harvesting is the advertising bonanza you know so well.

Trust or Power

Any question about your data security previously had one answer: trust whoever holds it. Companies and governments collect data, and citizens have little control.  The GDPR now protects European consumer privacy better than ever before. However, government regulation is not the solution to every problem which poses a new challenge for businesses and private citizens in the modern world.


The answer to anonymity is already well known in security circles and has become popular in consumer technologies such as HTTPS and VPN apps.  Encryption is a key in keeping data safe. Strong encryption can keep information private for a long time.

Here’s how it works:

Lets say that you want to privately talk to person b.  Then you'd need a way to:

  1. Confirm that person b is person b.
  2. Eliminate the possibility of anyone eavesdropping or changing the content of your conversation.
  3. Confirm to person b that you are who you say you are.

To do all of this encryption algorithms convert text or data into long strings of characters using complicated equations. The goal is to create code that is virtually unbreakable even with ever increasingly more powerful computers. The only way you can receive the message is by having the key. It all sounds very spy vs. spy, but how is this useful?

It turns out people use encryption principles for many useful everyday tasks. Confirming the identity of an individual on the Internet is a crucial responsibility for all online banking and communication. Citizens can get news directly from journalists or eyewitnesses from anywhere in the world without intermediaries tampering with content.

Information that is correctly encrypted can safely protect the privacy of the individual that owns that information.

Big Data and Privacy can coexist

There is at least one ideal solution that organizations can start doing now:  full encryption for all consumer data collected. From the first interaction all the way to analysis, all consumer data is encrypted and protected to the point that the company cannot easily tie data back to an individual. This is, of course, not possible in every sector, however, it’s the best way forward and a goal to which all big data companies should aspire.

Will encrypting all identifiable information limit the benefits of Big Data?  No.  Looking at data at a massive scale is what gives the best insight.  Consumer identities are unnecessary for analysis which is done on the aggregate.

Who’s On My WiFi is a pioneer in this field by developing an anonymous location analytics technology. Our analytics solution provides a detailed analysis of physical spaces and foot traffic, all without any identifying information on the people who are visiting a location.  Businesses can make data-driven decisions, while customers can browse in anonymity. We like to think it’s the best of both worlds.

5 Reasons WiFi is the Champion of Presence Analytics


For years a battle has been raging over the field of presence analytics. Businesses want in-store metrics to track visitors like they do website traffic, and several new technologies have risen to the task. Only 1 method is supreme, and we’ll break down how each technology works to show you the winner.

The 6 Methods of Automated Detection

There are 6 ways to track foot traffic:

  • Beam Counters
  • Video cameras
  • Floor Sensors
  • Beacons
  • Thermal Images
  • WiFi

Each method has its strengths and weaknesses.

Beam Counters:

Beam counters work by counting every person that walks into an entrance. 2 boxes placed in an entryway form an invisible beam. When a visitor breaks the beam, it adds 1 count to the day’s total. More advanced beam counters can detect the direction of travel, and thus estimate how many people come in and leave at what times. Beam counters are also very good at detecting fast moving targets. Beam counters cannot adequately track visitor flow or dwell time throughout a space.  They also cannot track an individual or tell how often they return.


Video Cameras / Facial Recognition:

A single well-placed camera can cover the entrance of a door. An employee can view the video footage and get a good deal of information for a specific point in time.  Information such as demographics, visitor flow through a building, and general visitor counts can be seen with video cameras.  Advanced AI algorithms are also now taking that feed and finding individual people with up to 98% accuracy depending on the technology. Facial recognition is an advanced and inexpensive way to track visitors, and see visitor demographics, but it does have its drawbacks. Right now video algorithms cannot uniquely identify individuals to a store overtime unless they are a celebrity.  This means that they cannot detect return-rate or total dwell time information for the business. This technology will improve over time and is being closely watched in the Presence Analytics industry.

Security Cameras vs. Video Cameras? Security Cameras are an excellent tool for any business that invites the public in, but they are not designed to perform foot traffic analysis. The placement of cameras should be designed for security, not just traffic flow. To get the best results from video counting, get dedicated cameras.

Floor Sensors:

Floor Sensors are a very accurate way to provide detailed information on traffic flow. Store owners can gather exact positioning and dwell times, and view where customers linger and travel throughout a space. Floor and pressure sensors are also very good at monitoring fast moving targets, for example runners or bikers on a path. There are 2 significant drawbacks: installation and demographics. Ripping up flooring is a massive project, and floor sensors are probably a better fit for new construction. They also cannot identify users. Floor sensors cannot give information about repeat visitors or tie social media accounts to traffic numbers.


Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons are a new technology that has quickly revolutionized location analytics. Beacons can be used to push location-based information to apps, and to track users down to the meter within a space. They offer tremendous opportunity both in analytics and in contextual advertisements. For all their benefits, beacons have 1 major drawback: they require the user to download an app before a location can gather any information on them. Since most consumers are hesitant to download new apps, this is a significant obstacle for businesses to tackle.

Thermal Images:

Thermal imaging is a non-intrusive and accurate way of gathering visitor counts. A sensor is placed on the ceiling and spots visitors by temperature. Thermal traffic counters can be more accurate at counting groups, identifying children vs adults, and can give brief descriptions of dwell time within a camera range. However, they cannot uniquely identify visitors, so they cannot spot repeat visitors, track dwell times through a store, or see paths.


WiFi networks can analyze foot traffic because WiFi-enabled devices send out AP Probes. Access Points use AP Probes to connect the device to the WiFi network. Access Points can see all WiFi devices in the local area, regardless of whether or not they are connected to the WiFi network. User position is triangulated as visitors move around a space by using a router that records AP Probes and an Analytics program like Who’s On My WiFi.  Visitors are individually identifiable by the MAC address of their smartphone. This means that their return rate can be tracked on top of where they go in the store. This MAC address can also be anonymized before it ever goes to analytics platforms to ensure visitor privacy. The main weakness to this method is that the business access points must be capable of sharing AP probe information.  Also, some smartphone manufacturers are anonymizing the AP Probes before the information can be collected.

WiFi has 5 primary advantages to all other forms of visitor detection

-Identify returning visitors
-Track position throughout a space
-Passively gather information without an app
-Can deploy with existing access points, with no new equipment or expensive renovation
-Ability to do omni-channel outreach to connected visitors.

About omni-channel outreach:

When visitors join the WiFi at a location, demographic and contact information about the visitor can be relayed to the business owner.  This can be achieved by requiring visitors to login to the WiFi with their social media login credentials.  Receiving this contact information allows for omni-channel outreach after the visitor has left the space.

No solution is one-size-fits-all, and many businesses will not have a network compatible with the latest WiFi analytics software. The value added is clear; knowing the return rate and demographics of brick and mortar audience over time with the ability to do omni-channel and personalized pre-sales and outreach is the holy grail of marketing.

Right now nothing does it better than WiFi.

Who’s On My WiFi helps tie together all of your location analytics to give you business insights that improve your space.  If you’d like to learn more, contact us for a demo of how our product can help.

Collecting Analytics Using a Unique Identifier

Sometimes people ask us why they should be using WiFi Analytics at their store or public venue.  After all, beam counters and video cameras have been around for years.  So what’s the value in monitoring the WiFi network if you already have other means of people counting or general visibility?

There are several reasons to monitor WiFi activity at your store or public space to improve organizational decision making.

The one we’d like to discuss today is the concept of a unique identifier.

What is a Unique Identifier

A unique identifier is anything that uniquely tracks an item and attaches any changes or history to that item.

Here are some common unique identifiers that you probably already know.

  1. Email address.
  2. Car's license plate.
  3. Driver's license id.

You wouldn’t want anyone to have the same email address as you, because your emails could be confused with another person's.  The same applies to your license plate or drivers license.  You wouldn’t want someone else's accident or bad driving to cause you to receive a ticket or cause your insurance rates to go up.

Each of these is a unique identifier that ties your history and your things to you.

Importance of a Unique Identifier in Location Analytics

Consider the example of a store that has a simple turnstile and a basic security camera.

Using the turnstile alone, are you able to tell whether 12 people came in at 1 time, or whether 1 person came in 12 times?  On simple systems, you’d need to confirm this with the video footage.

So what about the video footage.  Today, you see a man in a blue hat walking into the store.  Was that the same man in a blue hat that came in yesterday, or was the man from yesterday a different person wearing a similar blue hat?

Was that the same man in a blue hat that came in yesterday, or was the man from yesterday a different person wearing a similar blue hat?

Most modern beam counters now do directional detection to eliminate double counting, and many video systems are starting to incorporate machine learning to identify information such as gender, or relative age. Even with their modern upgrades, both of these technologies are unable to tell if a visitor that comes in today was the same visitor that came in yesterday, or the day before, or a month ago. Tracking information such as return visitation patterns and dwell time can be difficult based on beam counters and video feeds alone.

That is where WiFi Analytics comes in.

The Smartphone as a Unique Identifier

A Mac Address uniquely identifies each visitor's smartphone device.  A smartphone or tablet can be identified whether they connect to the WiFi or not, although it’s much more accurate if they do connect to the WiFi.

WiFi Analytics should be part of your overall Location Analytics strategy. A MAC address is the key identifier for anonymous visitors. Beam counters and video cameras can spot people, but the MAC address tells you how often they come back.

If you’d like to get insights into how visitors are using a space over periods of time, you need a unique identifier, and WiFi Analytics tracking smartphones and tablets is a good solution for this.


Because we're talking about uniquely identifying individuals within a public space, privacy of visitors immediately becomes very important.  We will be covering privacy at length in a future post, but for now, just be aware that this is an important concern for our company as well as other companies in this space.

Who's On My WiFi helps tie together all of your location analytics to give you business insights that improve your space.  If you'd like to learn more, contact us for a demo of how our product can help.

Digital and Physical Analytics Today and Tomorrow

Website Analytics has revolutionized online marketing. It’s now an indispensable tool for any business that has an online presence. Track where your customers are coming from, how long they stay, and what they buy. Send ads based on what products they linger on or return to, and suggest products that they will find interesting based on their past behavior.  All of these are great features that web analytics provide, but most businesses are much more than a website.

Can the power of website analytics be applied to physical spaces?

With all of this information available to website owners, owners of physical locations have felt somewhat envious by the lack of intelligence they can receive about in-store visitors.  By understanding how impactful website analytics has been to their business success, forward-thinking companies are starting to use location analytics in their physical spaces to try to replicate their online success. Leveraging wifi hardware and customer smartphones has enabled some companies to peel back layers of customer behavior like dwell time, repeat visits, and traffic flow in their physical stores similar to their websites.

Just how powerful can location analytics be?

We break down some current similarities and differences between the digital and physical worlds.

Daily visitors

At the most basic level, business owners want to know how many people are stopping by each day. On the website, this is tracked as sessions, and on the physical front, it's the WiFi guest or WiFi passerby total. Both are monitored in various analytics software.


website total visitors


physical total visitors

Time of day traffic

Heat maps are great at visualizing density by time. Notice peak times at a glance and prioritize times that are busiest.


website usage per hour per day


wifi devices used per hour per day

Current active users

Analytics software is useful for taking a snapshot of traffic at a point in time. On the web, you can view exactly how many visitors you have and what page they are currently on. With location analytics, you can see where people are in your space based on beacons, access points or cameras.


website active users


in store camera photo

physical access point beacons

Traffic flow

Optimization is the primary reason for analytics monitoring. Finding obstructions in your visitors' path is a great way to create value for your business. People navigate through a physical space just as intuitively as they do a website; using visual keys and shared experiences to lead them to their goal. If your business is sending mixed signals, you miss out on value.  Digital web analytics is still many years ahead of the physical world when it comes to measuring distinct human behavior with data. Whether using beacons, WiFi access points, or cameras it’s currently difficult in the physical world to be as granular as tracking a single person on a single page on a website over time, but this should improve in the future.


website traffic flow


wifi foot traffic heatmap  in store camera photo

Devices used

Are your customers Apple fans, Android, or Windows desktop users?  Answering these questions could determine where your sign-age, training, or product development should be focused.  Customer device preferences are easily seen on a website and are starting to be possible to be tracked at physical locations as well.


website os detection


physical manufacturer detection

Return rate

Given the high costs of customer acquisition, repeat customers are the lifeblood of most companies.  Return visitations to your website or your physical store can both be tracked.


website return rate


in store return rate


Demographic information is crucial to marketing campaigns. Validating your audience is easy online, with Social Media and Web Analytics tools giving you detailed demographic information about your visitors. So what about physical analytics? There are solutions using Guest WiFi and captive portal logins. By requiring social media to log in to a captive WiFi portal you can collect demographic data on visitors who use free WiFi.  Machine Learning applied to still images and video is also helpful in determining age and gender of in-store visitors.


web analytics demographics chart


guest wifi demographics chartfaces with machine learning demographics


One of the most important things to remember is that analytics grow exponentially more powerful with each additional source of data.  Both physical and digital analytics dashboards have similar attributes that can be easily compared, or even interchanged.

As analytics of physical spaces begins to mirror analytics of websites, a likely synergy between a visitors website user experience and in-store user experience should start to develop and deliver even more value to customers.

These are still the early days of location analytics.  With any new technology, there will be significant advantages and likely areas where it falls short.  All of these examples only scratch the surface of location analytics real potential based on a comparison technology that people already know in web analytics.  Whatever comes of this new technology, the lines are blurring between digital and physical business, as customers and businesses owners weave their experiences from smartphones into shopping malls.

If you are interested in collecting analytics on your business, schedule a demo today!

Disclaimer:  All screenshots are the property of their respective owners, Google and Microsoft, copyright, trademarked, or otherwise protected.  Who’s On My WiFi has no legal relationship with the owners.  The use of the owner's screenshots does not represent any legal association, venture or partnership with Who’s On My WiFi. The use of the screenshots does not represent the owner's sponsorship or endorsement of Who’s On My WiFi or any product or service provided by Who's On My WiFi.  All screenshots are shown for comparative purposes only to help explain the new technology being described.