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.

Encryption

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.

Beacons:

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:

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.

Privacy

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:

website total visitors

Physical:

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:

website usage per hour per day

Physical:

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:

website active users

Physical:

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:

website traffic flow

Physical:

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:

website os detection

Physical:

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:

website return rate

Physical:

in store return rate

Demographics

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.

Website:

web analytics demographics chart

Physical:

guest wifi demographics chartfaces with machine learning demographics

Synergy

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.


10 Use-Cases for Presence Analytics in Brick and Mortar Business

The internet rocked retail to its core. Big institutions found themselves unable to compete on price and convenience with sites like Amazon and eBay. One by one titans fell, from Radioshack to Sears to Circuit City. It's not all dire straits, as the internet has also brought with it a bountiful new advantage to real-world business:  analytics.

Soon stores and other physical spaces will use analytics for everything from customer relationships to staffing, driven by data rather than tradition.

#10 Optimize Shopping Mall Foot Traffic

Track customers as they move from store to store, and identify traffic flow patterns between stores. Determine if some entrances restrict customers' perception of choice. Present new layouts for kiosks and direct people with Calls to Action throughout the Mall. Test everything with data gathered and repeat the whole process.

#9 Healthcare Internal Auditing

Monitor each network in a healthcare facility and store how long devices connected. Auditing is as simple as changing a date range in a database. Use it to optimize power consumption and prove critical machine up-time for insurance purposes.

#8 Manage Restaurant Staffing and Procurement

Managing a chain of Restaurants means allocating resources to multiple locations which may have completely different traffic and peak times. Take the guess-work out using location analytics. Determine exact foot traffic counts and dwell time of restaurant goers, as well as counting repeat visitors. Use a holistic picture of Restaurant traffic to inform management on a per-location basis.

#7 Reduce Universities' IT Budget

College campuses have massively complicated IT infrastructure, with a lot of resources going to waste. Track foot traffic patterns and peak times to spend on resources where they're needed, when they're needed.

#6 Sports Arenas That Find Food for You

Stadiums usher thousands of people through tightly defined sections. Location analytics can track and analyze how people move between seating sections and how long they stay in concession and merchandise areas. Event planners can identify areas where foot traffic is too dense or identify areas that don't have enough traffic flow. Concession and signage can be adjusted to where people are going and direct them to where they need to be.

#5 Improve Retail Layouts

Retail locations are identifying which parts of a store are most or least visited at what times of the day and by which type of customer.  Knowing whether the current layout is encouraging new visitors into the back area of the store or is only encouraging repeat visitors into that area is helping stores improve their layout.  Location analytics is being used to improve a customers buying experience which ultimately improves sales.

#4 Convention Centers that Track Event Popularity

Understanding how guests flow through a space is very important to conference planning, which is why location analytics is so relevant to conferences. Learn which talks were the most popular, and which events attracted the most people or caused them to stay the longest. Plot attendee behavior in year-over-year charts to see where engagement needs to be improved.

#3 Organize Fair Grounds

Fairs present a unique challenge to organizers. Many vendors are spread over a huge area, each wanting as many visitors as possible walking past their space. Divvying up the pie is much easier with numbers and heat maps to show where people walk and how many of them are there. Identify hot spots where people put up their feet and add ATMs. Reroute confusing corners with signage and advertisement. Put a dollar amount to the flow of visitors in key areas for vendors vying for attention.

#2 Smart Equipment at Public Gyms

Location analytics will be a blessing to Gym Managers for the simple reason that they can accurately track machine usage. With pinpoint tracking, users can be tied to the machine that they are using and the duration that they use it. Put a number on the treadmill marathoners and the bench press behemoths while keeping all data anonymous. The usage information is invaluable for tracking customers' preferences over time and offering new experiences that people want.

#1 Spot Freeloaders at Coffee Shops

It's easy to see why coffee shops would be interested in tracking how people use their space. Starbucks pioneered the open space concept, and many other coffee shops around the world have followed suit. Managers have to balance providing an open, welcome space while prioritizing paying customers. So how many people are buying coffee and checking email versus telecommuting and sipping out of a thermos they brought from home?  Coffee shops can anonymously check dwell time and usage reports by adding location analytics integrated with the coffee shop network equipment while still respecting their customers privacy.

Looking to get Location Analytics set up at your business? We can help.


The 4 Best Ways to Discover Devices on an IPV4 Network

After deciding to monitor WiFi Usage to collect insights into your business or organization, you’ll be faced with the choice of how to actually retrieve the device information from your network.

It’s obvious that you can always log in to your wireless router or access point and see the IP addresses and MAC addresses.  However, this type of one time, manual process does not allow for insights or intelligence to be gathered from the changing dynamics of which devices are on the network over distinct periods of time.   To gain intelligence from WiFi Usage on your network, you need an automated method of gathering this information.

There are 4 major ways to quickly discover the MAC and IP address of all of the devices on your network over time. They all work a little differently and are better suited for different situations. ARP scans, DHCP leases, SNMP, and Router API Plugins can all give you device information used for wireless intelligence.  We will cover each one in detail and finish with an explanation of how you can use the right one for your WiFi.

Finding Devices Using ARP

If you run an IPV4 network then you use ARP. It was first defined in 1982 by RFC 826 as a standardized way to discover MAC addresses attached to IP addresses. The way it works is simple. Every host on a network has a list of devices in its ARP table. The ARP table ties a MAC address to an IP address. If a host wants to send to an IP Address, it first checks its ARP table to see if it knows the MAC address. So what happens if the MAC address is unknown? A host can find a new MAC address by sending a broadcast to all hosts on the local network requesting a response from a certain IP address. If a host has that IP Address, it responds with its MAC address. The sending device then stores that information in its ARP table and can begin exchanging information.

ARP works on any IPV4 network where hosts can receive broadcasts on the local network. Some firewalls may restrict ARP for security reasons. Enterprise network equipment will usually have an option for “isolation mode”, which in essence means hosts cannot communicate with anything except the WLAN gateway. This can be implemented through multiple methods, but the end result is always the ARP broadcasts are discarded and cannot be used to discover other devices.

For most single networks, ARP is the easiest method of collecting WiFi Usage information.  As long as your network does not have AP isolation mode enabled, and if you’re trying to monitor a single network, this is the most straightforward method. GearChunk wrote a great article on how you can use our software to get started.

Finding Devices Using DHCP

Almost every network in the world uses DHCP in one form or another. The function of a DHCP server was defined in 1997 by RFC 2131 as “a framework for passing configuration information to hosts on a TCP/IP network”. A DHCP server is critical to the function of an IPV4 network because it gives more than just an IP Address. A DHCP server can be used for multiple purposes:

  • Giving a host its default router information
  • Pointing to a DNS Server
  • Assigning IP Addresses
  • Providing Subnet Mask information
  • Storing MAC address and IP address information about all local hosts

Your LAN almost certainly has a DHCP server running somewhere.  Common locations for the DHCP server are to be running on a standalone server or to be included with the Access Point or firewall firmware.  Most DHCP software has options for the user to manually view active leases for hosts on the network. That’s a very simple way to get an idea of how many users are on your network, but it’s not convenient or consistent. When looking at network usage you’ll want up to the minute information on what devices connect and disconnect. A DHCP server can be surprisingly helpful at this if configured properly.

Scripting to a DHCP Server

Automating information gathering is the key to collecting data. This isn’t always possible in standalone SOHO routers from manufacturers like Netgear, Linksys, etc. A SOHO router that serves all network functions (Router, Access Point, Firewall, DHCP, NAT) usually will not provide a means to extract information to another device. A Linux or Windows DHCP server, on the other hand, can run scripts and store information independently. A simple bash or Powershell script can easily query the DHCP software to view active leases. Repeating this task every few minutes will provide overtime device history, providing that information is stored in a database.

There are two crucial differences between this method and using ARP requests. The first is that A DHCP server typically assigns IP Addresses for at least 8 hours. That means if a device shows up on a network and leaves after 45 minutes, it will still appear on the active lease list for a full 8 hours. 8-hour device blocks are near useless for network device analysis. Manually reducing DHCP lease times to 30 minutes or an hour gives a more granular view of network activity. This will place more CPU load on the DHCP server, but modern hardware will find this an insignificant increase in workload.

The second difference is that while ARP only works on a single network, a single DHCP server can monitor multiple networks. The use of a standalone DHCP server is common in large network environments with tens or hundreds of VLANs. In cases like this tweaking, the settings and storing the lease information can be an easy low-cost way to develop your own network analytics. If a set and forget method seems easier, Who’s On My WiFi can take the DHCP data to our API and display network analytics on a per-location basis.

Finding Devices Using SNMP

Simple Network Management Protocol or SNMP has been in use since the early 90’s to monitor and configure network devices. It’s a basic TCP/IP Protocol that is designed to remotely monitor and update network equipment. SNMP uses databases called Management Information Bases (MIBs) to store device information. MIBs use a tree-like hierarchy to structure information which allows for virtually limitless expansion.

snmp diagram

Different manufacturers can create their own MIBs within this structure to manage their hardware in a specific way. The manufacturer provides their MIB to the users and the users can then use SNMP management software to query and update the device according to the manufacturer specifications.

SNMP Network Discovery

This all becomes relevant when we look at what information we can gather from a device, like a network controller or an access point. The MIB needs to support the Object Identifier (OID) as defined in RFC 1213 which lists active MAC addresses on a network. This is defined officially as the atPhysAddress OID and is supported by major networking equipment manufacturers such as Cisco. There’s always more than one way to crack an egg, however, and other OIDs can perform a similar function. Any SNMP function that lists active hosts will provide adequate output to perform SNMP network discovery.

Implementing SNMP Network Discovery

Before attempting SNMP monitoring, you will need to identify two key pieces of information:

  • Does my network equipment support OIDs that list active hosts?
  • How will I implement gathering the SNMP information and storing it in a database?

SNMP is typically managed through third-party software and a GUI, though some IT admins will configure their own SNMP scripts. The latter option is the only real candidate for this WiFi intelligence usage goal. Running a Powershell or python script on a server is a reliable method to gather your data. The downside is the significant time it takes to produce a custom device discovery tool and database using scripting tools.

Finding Devices Using a Router Plugin

The best source for information about Wireless Visitors is directly from the router, though that’s a deceptively simple task. Typically SOHO routers manufactured by Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link, Motorola, etc. do not provide a function to export data. Sending device data to an external server is only possible from specific enterprise network equipment manufacturers. Even popular Access Point choices like Ubiquiti and older Cisco equipment lack this feature natively. As technology marches forward more businesses are demanding access to this data, so a few companies now provide the option for you to use a REST API to receive the network data directly.

Cloud-managed network controllers are clear leaders in this field. Meraki and Aerohive are great choices and both provide a REST API natively in their cloud dashboard. This allows you to push information to whatever server you choose immediately after setting up a network. Their competitors include Ruckus and Aruba, who both offer a location analytics engine run as a standalone service. Location Analytics engines are deployed as a virtual machine or a VPC that connects to your network and serves as a middleman between the Network Controller and an outbound API.

Client Isolation Mode - Additional Info

Businesses that deploy guest networks are finding Client Isolation Mode also called AP Isolation Mode is an absolute must for privacy and security. Client Isolation Mode narrows communications from client devices so that they can only communicate with the Access Point and the Gateway. It’s only internet access, with no ability to communicate with other client devices. Isolation Mode is offered by every major enterprise network manufacturer, and for good reason; it provides a strong defense from would-be attackers and client devices already infected with malware. The flip side is as a network administrator, Client Isolation Mode breaks traditional networks, such as access to on-premise servers or intranet applications, which is why it's mainly used on guest networks where only internet access is required.

The Best Method for Your Network

If you have an access point system that allows access to the data through the API, such as Meraki, Aerohive, Aruba, or Ruckus, this is the recommended method of retrieving WiFi Usage information.  Even though router plugins are difficult to access nowadays, they offer the most consistent and reliable solution. Data is collected as long as your Access Points are up, which should be all the time. Router plugins are also becoming the only scanning solution in some cases as Client Isolation Mode becomes more popular.

Your next best option is an ARP scanning method.  If you have AP isolation mode disabled and only one network or just a few networks, this is by far the most straightforward method.  If you have multiple networks, if they are all monitored by a common DHCP server, then DHCP scanning is your next best option.  And finally, if don't have API access, and you're running AP isolation mode on a system without a scriptable DHCP server, then a custom SNMP scripting solution is your final choice.

Determining which solution for gathering WiFi usage data will work best for your business will be determined by what networking equipment you have in place and how it is configured. If you are unsure of where to start, the easiest way is to just start scanning. Our Windows and Android agents are available for free, and you can get a quick idea of how your network looks to visiting devices. For more robust analytics you can schedule a demo with our sales team to see how Who’s On My WiFi can use all of these solutions and more to create insightful, business-driven location analytics for your space.

Need to implement WiFi analytics without the hassle? Let us help you get started.


2018 WiFi Analytics Buyer's Guide

Buyers Guide

WiFi Analytics is an exploding industry, full of opportunity and misinformation.  With any new technology, it's easy for customers to feel confused about what they’re buying.  We’ve put together this buyer's guide on what you need to consider when getting started with WiFi analytics.  Who’s On My WiFi has been creating WiFi analytics solutions since 2015 and we've listed what hardware, software, or web services you might consider.

WiFi Analytics is used to track the visitor activity at a physical location like a store or public park in order to improve those spaces.  Using information available to the WiFi network to collect this information instead of traditional counting systems like turnstiles offers more insight into the visitors and their usage.

There are 3 major components of a WiFi network that allow you to collect information about visitors.  This guide goes through the 3 ways to collect information, what hardware or software you might need to purchase, and what each component allows you to know about your visitors.

The 3 major components that can be monitored to know more about visitors are:

  • WiFi Usage
  • Foot Traffic
  • The Guest WiFi Splash Page

Analyzing WiFi Usage

Monitoring which devices and at what time visitors are using the guest WiFi network provides several benefits.  By analyzing this information, stats can be tracked to see how long visitors are using the WiFi network and how frequently they return to the space to use the WiFi.  You can also see peak network usage times, average busy hours, and more. Analyzing WiFi Usage is most beneficial when part of a location’s value to the public is as a place to sit and use the wifi like a coffee shop, library, or coworking space.

The first thing to consider when analyzing WiFi usage is how you are going to collect data. Free network scanning software is an easy way to gather basic information like device totals and dwell time. Saving that data for analysis is more complicated. Once network scans are completed the information needs to be sent to a database, either locally managed or as a service in the cloud. Who’s On My WiFi can collect wifi usage data from multiple sources including router integrations, ARP scans, DHCP leases, and even SNMP Powershell scripts. Network engineers can also create their own database on a local server to collect and organize network scan information.

The easiest and most reliable way to collect network usage data is directly from the router or access point. Enterprise router companies can provide API access from their hardware to your analytics platform. However, the capacity of your access points to do this depends on the model and firmware version. Several companies offer this feature, including:

  • Aruba
  • Aerohive
  • Meraki
  • Ruckus
  • Cloudtrax
  • Sophos
  • But no specific hardware is needed

Remember, if you're main WiFi Analytics goal is in monitoring WiFi usage, no special hardware is needed.  The router companies listed above make it easier since you won't need a monitoring agent, but you can often monitor WiFi Usage on your network with no additional hardware required.

Analyzing Foot Traffic

By analyzing smartphones that are in use near a WiFi access point you can see foot traffic patterns, new vs return visitor usage, busy times of day, and areas where visitors congregate. Foot traffic is collected passively even if a device never connects to the WiFi network. This is most useful in public settings when visitors will not likely connect to the WiFi, for example in places like malls, retail stores, restaurants, and public parks.

Gathering this data is no simple task, and requires specialized hardware to collect and store passerby data.

AP Probe Requests

All devices with WiFi capability send out packets to find nearby access points. These packets are called AP Probe Requests, and devices like cell phones send them everywhere they go looking for WiFi to connect to. Access Points listen for Probe Requests so that they can connect devices to the WiFi network. If the software on an Access Point is set to store every AP Probe it receives, it can effectively pinpoint and track devices as they move around a space.

Smart Routers

Routers that store and track device information in relation to GPS data are called Smart Routers.  Tracking devices by location ideally require at least 3 routers that triangulate the position of client devices. To track passers-by your network equipment must:

  • Share information between routers, either through a cloud controller or local network controller
  • Use GPS information on each Access Point
  • Collect and store Probe Requests for tracking
  • Combine all of this information for real-time monitoring

If seeing foot traffic through your WiFi sounds like a feature you would like to use on your network, the equipment you install is very important. Look at industry leaders offering innovative enterprise network equipment.

  • Aruba
  • Aerohive
  • Meraki
  • Ruckus
  • And a few more

Analyzing the Guest WiFi Splash Page

For guest WiFi, there has been a push to have users see a splash page before joining the WiFi network.  Whether this is to see an Acceptable Use Policy or to have them log in to their social media account and like the businesses page, this trend has grown.

By further analyzing information provided during the splash page, location owners can learn a wide variety of information, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income Level
  • Member status with an organization
  • Other demographic information

Analyzing the Splash Page is the primary method of adding identity to which visitors are using the WiFi network.  This information is most useful in retail environments where re-marketing or demographic information is important.  By requiring a social media account to login users, you can associate a Facebook or Twitter profile with a MAC address and device history.

The specifics of splash page integration vary widely. The information that is shared depends on how the captive portal (splash page) is set up, and what information is requested. At its most basic level, a simple form can collect an email address and add that information to a local database. Professional captive portals and WiFi Analytics providers will often use social media API integrations to pull requested user information directly from their profiles.

What information can I request?

It is very important to be respectful of user privacy with any WiFi Analytics solution, but when collecting data from Splash Pages, one should be exceptionally careful.  Who’s On My WiFi always provides options for completely anonymizing all data collected, so that no information can be tied to an individual user. When you do choose to collect individual user data, it is the responsibility of the business to request no more information than what they need. Connecting to a social media API provides many permission options, including access to a user’s entire post history and permission to make status updates or profile changes. Blanket permissions are completely unnecessary for marketing data, and your captive portal settings should reflect that. Typically the marketing data needed is information like age, education, email address, and location.

Setting up a Captive Portal with a Splash Page

There are many options for setting up a captive portal with a Splash Page, as many enterprise routers have native splash pages that can be edited. Dedicated captive portal software and firmware can also be a great option for a custom approach, and WiFi Analytics companies often offer easily integrated splash pages that feed directly into your Analytics dashboard. The most important consideration when deciding to monitor a splash page is using an access point that supports the feature of a custom splash page. A few of these include:

  • Aruba
  • Aerohive
  • Meraki
  • Ruckus
  • Microtik
  • Ubiquity
  • Sophos
  • Engenius
  • OpenMesh
  • And many more

The most important consideration when deciding to monitor a splash page is using an access point that supports the feature of a custom splash page.  Make sure your network hardware company will easily integrate with the analytics provider that you’ve chosen, or that you can custom create your own local solution.

The WiFi Analytics Provider

No matter what data you gather from the hardware and software options listed above, analytics software or an analytics service is necessary to make a useful analysis of it.  The WiFi Analytics service or software is then used to collect all of the information, combine it, and analyze it to create a more complete picture of how your visitors use your space.

There are several WiFi Analytics solutions out there.  Some are on-premise or custom solutions.  There are also several cloud-based providers of this information as well.  Who's On My WiFi is one of the cloud-based WiFi Analytics solutions available.

Choosing your hardware

It can be difficult to prioritize advantages of different hardware companies and settle on one solution for your network.  However, if WiFi Analytics and visitor intelligence is important to you, then we’d recommend starting your search with some of the router companies listed above.  See who you can work with and who best understands what your network needs are. You’ll probably notice a strong leader in your industry that fits your network needs. Hopefully, with the help of this guide, you are now ready to make an informed hardware or software decision to have all of the pieces ready to utilize WiFi analytics.

Ready to make the jump? Schedule a demo to get your WiFi Analytics launched.


11 Impressive Bluetooth Low Energy Use Cases

Jona Nalder

We’ve covered how Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  Many companies have had difficulty implementing beacons in a way that meaningfully impacts their bottom line. Even with the challenge, a few companies have done incredible things using beacons in innovative augmented reality applications. This technology is being improved all the time, and eventually amazing use cases like these could become everyday features.

 

1. Guided Museum Tours

The Brooklyn Museum of Art is providing tours through their app. Location-based triggers serve content as you walk through the Museum. It’s an engaging way to communicate with visitors and allows the guest to interact with the exhibits in whatever order they choose.

Mike Steele

2. Making new connections

This one is controversial. Augmented reality struggles to stride the balance between amazing new features and gross privacy intrusions. SXSW illustrated this perfectly by a feature in their app that broadcasts your position to other app-users. People could meet up and connect based on similar interests, or by making friends over the many twitter conversations going on at the event. Yes, you could choose to turn the feature off completely. Twitter fans rejoiced.

Dion Hinchcliffe

 

 

3.  Saving a seat on the train

Crowded public transportation is everyday life in South Korea, and finding a seat can be difficult for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and the elderly. To alleviate this problem, pregnant women can download an app provided by the transport system. Whenever she enters a train, a beacon triggers a light that instructs other passengers to give up priority seating until the woman is seated. The app has received universal praise, and alleviates a social concern of not catering to the needs of pregnant women out of ignorance to their condition, especially in the early stages of pregnancy which are not always easily visible.

Jo B

 

 

4. Scavenger Hunting

The Chicago based development firm Codal showcased their beacon technology by creating a scavenger hunt at Techweek. Users interacted with beacons at key points throughout the conference to be entered in a giveaway. Key exhibitors partnered with organizers to guide hunters to important showcases across the event. Hyper-local engagement is an area beacons can truly outstrip other technology.

Kevin Doncaster

 

5. Saving a Firefighter’s Life

Firefighters will rush headfirst into danger, often isolated from help and unable to communicate. To protect those that protect others, the Department of Homeland Security has developed an inexpensive tracker that triggers an alert to emergency personnel when a firefighter is in danger. BLE beacons placed around the perimeter of an emergency zone and on the firefighters responding can pinpoint position and detect when an emergency worker stops moving and immediately send an alarm. The solution only costs about $300, making it affordable for small towns and remote locations.

 

6. Guide the visually impaired

A smart phone app will soon be guiding the visually impaired aboard Wichita, Kansas’ bus and transport system. The city is partnering with the California geofencing and location software company Gimbal to use beacons on their buses to push location-based instructions to blind app-users. The technology is still in its infancy, and as they receive usage information the service will be improved to best serve their vision impaired community.

Naitokz

 

7. Find Your Airport Terminal

Ever had that minor panic of looking at your phone and your boarding pass as you rush to the gate? Miami International Airport hopes to make the airport sprint a thing of the past. Bluetooth beacons have been added to each terminal and key points like food and restrooms. Users can download the airport app and be guided straight to their terminal from the baggage check-in. Many travelers will likely find this extremely helpful, provided they download the app first.

Rene Schietzke

 

 

8. Optimize a Grocery Store Layout

Acuity Brands recently showcased their shopping cart tracking system for grocery stores. Bluetooth Beacons are placed in the light fixtures and on the carts to pinpoint and track the carts’ movement around the store. Understanding how customers move around the store is the end-goal for this technology, which allows product placement and restocking to be optimized in the most cost-efficient manner. Creating analytics around physical items is a huge benefit of BLE beacons, and this use-case proves that location analytics do not have to be invasive to consumer privacy.

Yuya Tamai

 

 

9. Skip the Long Lines

Apple fans will find their visits to the mall just a little more convenient, as all domestic Apple Stores are now using beacons to communicate with customers. The project was kicked off to promote their iBeacon technology, and allows users check in for service and receive notifications specific to their Apple devices. Apple has an advantage because their users all have the Apple Store App, which had Bluetooth Beacon features added in a recent update. Other retailers may find it more difficult to convince users to download more software, however the benefits of the functionality are impressive.

Oswaldo Rubio

 

 

10. Open the Hotel Room with your Phone

Ditch the room key, and open up your smart phone. That’s what SPG is pitching to posh hotels across the world. Their technology uses an app to communicate with a Bluetooth Beacon which triggers the door lock to your hotel room. Guests can walk up to their hotel room and unlock with a gesture. Better not forget to charge your phone!

Elizabeth Greene

 

 

11. Crackerjack Delivery at the Ballpark

Major League Baseball released their ballpark app, which is designed to work at many participating stadiums around the US. In-game highlights and social media integrations are typical event-app fare, but it also features food and merchandise purchasing options which are delivered directly to your seat.

Rudi Riet

Interested in tracking foot-traffic in your space? We can help.