Near is experimenting with Drones for Data Collection | MMA Global
February 5, 2015
Submitted by Near

Drones are being tested for multiple use cases these days, from delivering goods to gathering news to pure recreation. At Near, we always think of innovative approaches in technology. One interesting approach is on how we are prepping to collect wireless data across regions.

Till now, Near has been using bikes, cars, trains, and even walking up the stairs to collect data including Wi-Fi and cell tower signals. This wireless data helps Near’s location platform precisely locate devices without the need of GPS or operator assistance. This also ensures that the first party location data we collect is of high accuracy, and hence the mobile audiences created by analyzing the data are precise. Currently, location data accuracy is an existing issue for many players, and first party data could be a solution.

Today, Near started initial tests with drones to collect data. And the results have been fantastic! Besides, this turns out to be the most efficient mode. We are the first player in the ad-tech industry to test drones for collecting data, and are very excited on how this could ease data collection.

Here are the three most crucial aspects that give us distinctive advantage of using drones over other mediums:

o Better altitude coverage
o Radius beyond roads
o GPS controlled flight path

The usage of drones for location data collection would tremendously reduce human intervention and ease the process of regularly updating signal strength across the region. Drones will also enable quick assimilation of a large scale of location data, which would mean faster market entry for us, since it does take much higher time at present. On the system end, we would need to update our data analytics engines accordingly to convert unprecedented levels of data into actionable information. We are talking a new level of scale all together.

Near plans to use drones in select geographies post successful completion of these tests to collect the wireless data that is crucial to its audience profiling data. Privacy and legal compliance are of highest importance to us. We only collect signals passively and do not record videos or photos. And there is no PII involved either.

For brands, this would mean more data points for accurate audiences, more location points for consumer insights and targeting, and maybe, bringing in the third dimension in locating the consumer.