GKB: Geodemographics Knowledge Base

This page contains information on, and links to, websites about Real Time Geodemographics. This is a new subject which can be defined as the study of people (or things) according to their spatial location through time.

An excellent example of the application of real time geodemographics is the setting of motor insurance premiums on a 'pay as you drive' basis in which the premium depends on where you drive and at what time of day. There are many others, as the links on this page will show.

Our objective is to provide GKB users with a convenient summary of the main technological and social developments which are shaping this exciting new subject area. You will find the following topics covered:

  • Tracking - through the use of GPS, mobile phone technology and RFID tagging.
  • Virtual worlds - the representation of people, places and things in time and space.
  • Surveillance and imaging - the use of CCTV, satellite imaging and other new remote sensing technologies to monitor the location and behaviour of people, vehicles and other objects over time.
  • Privacy and data protection - which are vital issues which must be addressed if real time geodemographics is to gain widespread public acceptance.

Cutting across all four areas is the use of new visualisation techniques for analysing and presenting dynamic spatial data and a number of the links include details of some of the latest developments.

'A Surveillance Society' - Report for the Information Commissioner

This major report, prepared by the Surveillance Studies Network for the Information Commissioner, looks at surveillance in 2006 and projects forward ten years to 2016. It describes a surveillance society as one where technology is extensively and routinely used to track and record our activities and movements. This can often be in ways which are invisible or not obvious to ordinary individuals as they are watched and monitored, and the report shows how pervasive surveillance looks set to accelerate in the years to come.

A Public Domain Dataset for Human Activity Recognition Using Smartphones

This paper by Anguito et al of DITEN at the University of Genoa and CETpD at the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya describes the emerging research field of human-centred computing. This aims to understand human behaviour and integrate users and their social context with computer systems. One of the most recent, challenging and appealing applications in this framework consists in sensing human body motion using smartphones to gather context information about peoples’ actions. In this context, the authors describe their work on the Activity Recognition Database, built from the recordings of 30 subjects doing Activities of Daily Living (ADL) while carrying a waist-mounted smartphone with embedded inertial sensors. This database is now in the public domain at the UCI Machine Learning Repository. Results, obtained on the dataset by exploiting a multiclass Support Vector Machine (SVM), are also described in the paper.

Addiction in the age of the metaverse

This is a 2022 episode of Analysis from BBC Radio 4. According to a YouGov poll, the majority of Brits can't get through dinner without checking their phone. Children and young adults can now be treated on the NHS for 'gaming and internet addiction'. So, with the arrival of the metaverse, which promises to seamlessly blend our real and virtual worlds, are we facing a future which could potentially turbocharge this issue?

Apple'sNew iPhone 8 and iPhone X Emphasize Augmented Reality

This 2017 article by Jonathan Vanian of Fortune explains how Apple’s new iPhone8, iPhone 8 plus, and iPhone X smartphones are intended to bring augmented technology to the masses. He describes how, with augmented reality, people can see digital images overlaid onto the physical world using their smartphones and cameras. The technology is closely related to virtual reality, in which people wear headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Rift that immerse them into completely digital environments. He reports that, at a recent launch event, Apple’s head marketer Phil Schiller described several technologies intended to make the new iPhones better suited than competing smartphones at displaying AR graphics. The iPhones contain new gyroscopes and accelerometers that help orient digital imagery onto the physical world in a more realistic manner than before.

Are your sensors spying on you?

This 2017 press release from Newcastle University describes how a team of cyber experts led by Dr Maryam Mehrnezhad have revealed the ease with which malicious websites, as well as installed apps, can spy on us using just the information from the motion sensors in our mobile phones.

Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM)

AIM is a global trade association comprising providers of components, networks, systems, and services that manage the collection and integration of data with information management systems. Its members are manufacturers or service providers of technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), bar code, card technologies (magnetic stripe, smart card, contactless card, optical card), biometrics, and electronic article surveillance (EAS).

Autonomous driving development under the metaverse

This 2022 article from iNews explores the background to the metaverse and includes discussion of applications for the testing of autonomous vehicles.

Can the European Union prevent an artificial intelligence dystopia?

A European Union plan to regulate artificial intelligence could see companies that break proposed rules on mass surveillance and discrimination fined millions of euros. Draft legislation, leaked ahead of its official release later this month (April 2021), suggests the EU is attempting to find a “third way” on AI regulation, between the free market US and authoritarian China. As presently worded, the rules would ban AI designed to manipulate people “to their detriment”, carry out indiscriminate surveillance or calculate “social scores”. Much of the language is vague enough that the regulations could cover the entire advertising industry or nothing at all. In any case, the military and any agency ensuring public security are exempt. Full article by Matthew Sparkes in New Scientist magazine.  

Cityware - Urban Design and Pervasive Systems

Cityware is a multidisciplinary research project, integrating the disciplines of architecture and urban design, human-computer interaction and distributed systems. The goal of Cityware is to develop theory, principles, tools and techniques for the design, implementation and evaluation of city-scale pervasive systems as integral facets of the urban landscape.  Advances in pervasive computing infrastructures have the potential to dramatically broaden the role of computing in the everyday lives of people with a greater proliferation of personal wireless devices and with wireless devices starting to be embedded in the urban landscape.

CobraTrak - Stolen Vehicle Tracking

Through its CobraTrak product, Cobra has developed a unique and innovative stolen vehicle tracking service delivered via GPS/GSM technology, which offers theft alerts, vehicle tracking and police liaison throughout Europe. Cobra has now been acquired by Vodafone Automotive.

Collection and analysis of traffic information in real time

ITIS, now rebranded as INRIX, provides traffic services. INRIX is dedicated to helping people more easily navigate their world. By offering traffic information, a suite of directions and driver services and flexible developer apps and tools, its team of international navigation and routing intelligence experts helps organisations bring innovative traffic-powered solutions to market.

Connected Car Insurance Europe | TU-Automotive

Held in April 2017, this was the largest and most comprehensive forum in Europe dedicated to connected car insurance, including Usage Based Insurance (UBI). With over 300 attendees from across 25+ countries globally and 50+ executives speakers, this event addressed the technological challenges and new business models to impact the motor insurance industry as it converges with the connected car.

DBpedia Mobile

DBpedia Mobile is a location-aware Semantic Web client that can be used on an iPhone and other mobile devices. Based on the current GPS position of a mobile device, DBpedia Mobile renders a map containing information about nearby locations from the DBpedia dataset. Geographic locations are currently available for 300,000 of DBpedia's 2.18 million “things”. It uses the Marbles Linked Data Browser to render Fresnel-based views for selected resources, as well as its SPARQL capabilities to build the map view. Starting from the map, users can explore background information about locations and can navigate into DBpedia and other interlinked datasets such as GeoNames, Revyu, EuroStat and Flickr.


DBpedia is a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web. DBpedia allows you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia, and to link other data sets on the Web to Wikipedia data.

eCall - Digital Agenda for Europe

eCall is a European initiative intended to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union. The eCall initiative aims to deploy a device installed in all vehicles that will automatically dial 112 in the event of a serious road accident, and wirelessly send airbag deployment and impact sensor information, as well as GPS coordinates to local emergency agencies. The European Commission is aiming to have a fully functional eCall service to be in place throughout the EU by 2015. According to some estimates, eCall could speed emergency response times by 40 percent in urban areas and by 50 percent in rural areas.

Electronic Map Keeps Drivers Away From Jams

This article from New Scientist Magazine describes the ClearFlow traffic modelling system developed by Microsoft Research at Redmond, California. Using data from GPS-enable vehicles the model integrates this with other road infrastructure and spatial data to generate flow predictions for all categories of road, including un-monitored minor roads. A pilot system in which the predictions are presented in electronic map form is operating in Seattle.

EU Gender Directive

This press release from the European Commission gives guidance to Europe's insurance industry to ensure non-discrimination between women and men in insurance premiums. This follows the ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that different premiums for men and women constitute sex discrimination. In its ruling on the Test-Achats case on 1 March 2011, the Court of Justice gave insurers until 21 December 2012 to treat individual male and female customers equally in terms of insurance premiums and benefits.

Extended Reality in Practice

In this 2021 book celebrated futurist, technologist, speaker, and author Bernard Marr delivers a robust and accessible explanation of how all kinds of firms are developing innovative XR (Extended Reality) solutions to business problems. You’ll discover the new ways that companies are harnessing virtual, augmented, and mixed reality to improve consumers’ perception of their brands. You’ll also find out why there are likely to be no industries that will remain untouched by the use of XR, and why these technologies are popular across the commercial, governmental, and non profit spectrums.

Four Reasons Google Bought Waze

This article by Peter Chan at Forbes from 2013 gives the principal reasons why Google acquired the Israeli mapping service Waze. He gives the first of these, quoting from Bits, as “Unlike Google Maps, Waze has created a culture of user engagement. Waze generates many of its maps by using GPS to track "the movements of its nearly 50 million users”, according to Bits. “A third of Waze users share "information about slowdowns, speed traps and road closures, allowing Waze to update suggested routes in real time [and its] most dedicated fans can also edit the maps directly to improve their accuracy,” writes Bits”

Geodemographics Goes Mobile

At a CGG seminar in 2008 we introduced ‘real time geodemographics’ for exploiting the data from tracking people and things on the move. At our most recent seminar we gave an update on the technologies, opportunities and risks associated with this rapidly developing area – and this keynote gives a brief summary of that presentation. To wet your appetite, the opportunities arise in a diverse range of areas which includes usage-based motor insurance, health and welfare (e.g. fitness tracking), augmented reality, and bricks-and-mortar retailing (tracking the customer journey in-store). This GKB Keynote, written by Peter Furness, is from 2017 

Google and Waymo used driverless cars to make a virtual San Francisco

This is a 2022 article from New Scientist. Software can analyse millions of static photos of city streets taken atop cars and construct a realistic 3D model that could be used to create immersive maps or even train driverless cars safely in a virtual environment. The article includes mention of Neural Radiance Fields. 

Google Moves Into Augmented Reality Shopping With BMW and Gap

This article by Elisabeth Behrmann and Mark Bergen of Bloomberg Technology describes how Google is rolling out a real world application for its most ambitious virtual reality effort - letting shoppers see what they might buy without leaving home. Google has introduced two new retail partnerships, with BMW and Gap Inc., deploying its 3D-scanning project called Tango. The technology uses cameras and sensors in mobile devices to overlay digital images in physical space - akin to the hit mobile game Pokemon Go. As virtual and augmented reality technology rapidly improves, analysts predict the retail industry may be one the biggest beneficiaries. IDC estimates the market for the technologies will explode from about $5.2 billion in 2015 to $162 billion in 2020.

Google Smartphone Decimeter Challenge

The goal of this 2021 and 2022 competition is to compute smartphones location down to the decimeter or even centimeter resolution which could enable services that require lane-level accuracy such as HOV lane ETA estimation. Competitors must develop a model based on raw location measurements from Android smartphones collected in opensky and light urban roads. 

Highstreet shops secretly track customers using smartphones

This article by Sarah Knapton, Science Editor of The Telegraph describes how street shops including Marks & Spencer are secretly tracking the movements of their customers using their smartphones. Companies such as footwear supplier Dune, Morrisons and Topshop are among major retailers taking advantage of new technology which picks up the pings emitted by phones as they look for wi-fi networks to join; for example, the technology provided by Finnish company Walkbase. The shops use the data not only to record the numbers of their customers, but also to see where they move about in the shop, so they can alter the layout to make walking between departments more convenient, or steer customers towards goods they may have missed. Some retailers have even started sending location-based adverts direct to smartphones of customers as they move around the store, while some Westfield shopping malls now send discounts on the spot if a shopper checks the price at a rival store.

Home Office ‘To Integrate Surveillance Cams With Police Database’

This article by Matthew Broersma explains how the Law Enforcement Data Service is to include two existing police databases as well as the nationwide Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system. He describes the concerns of the UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, about this development.

Human Activity Recognition Using Smartphones Data Set

The Human Activity Recognition database was built from the recordings of 30 subjects performing activities of daily living (ADL) while carrying a waist-mounted smartphone with embedded inertial sensors. The database is hosted by the UCI Machine Learning Repository which is a collection of databases, domain theories, and data generators that are used by the machine learning community for the empirical analysis of machine learning algorithms. The archive was created as an ftp archive in 1987 by David Aha and fellow graduate students at UC Irvine. Since that time, it has been widely used by students, educators, and researchers all over the world as a primary source of machine learning data sets.

iapp Privacy Perspectives: The limits of privacy in location data

This is a link to 'Getting lost in the crowd: The limits of privacy in location data' iapp's blog written by Ali Farzanehfar and Florimond Houssiau. 

Before the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation and other modern privacy regulations, there was growing evidence that histories of human mobility containing detailed location data are vulnerable to simple reidentification attacks. This line of research may have eventually led to the GDPR specifically singling out location data that is pseudonymized (i.e., does not include obvious identifiers, such as a name or phone number) as not anonymous. However, given how useful this data can be, academics and industry practitioners have been asking whether there is a simple fix to privacy in these datasets. Namely, if the dataset was big enough, would individual records become anonymous by being “lost in the crowd”?

Improbableand SpatialOS

Through its SpatialOS computation platform, Improbable seeks to transform public and private sector understanding of highly complex problems. Some of the hardest problems decision makers face involve systems that display complex and emergent behaviour, like economies, ecosystems, and infrastructure. These systems cannot be understood through data analytics and machine learning alone. To better comprehend these complex problems, you can now create massive simulations of the real world. Improbable’s technology enables unprecedented spatial simulations that can shed new light on the problems that your organisation faces. Improbable was founded in 2012 by Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, a pair of hyperkinetic computer scientists from the University of Cambridge.

In Business - Location, Location

In this edition of BBC Radio 4's 'In Business' programme, Peter Day finds out about the mobile phone, GPS and other wireless technologies which are helping all sorts of useful objects 'know' where they are - and tell everybody else about it. He hears from the people building companies out of this dramatic new sensing ability.  A number of useful links are provided for the companies featuring in the programme. Test

Into the Metaverse

This is a 2022 episode of The Media Show from BBC Radio 4. In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would change its name to Meta, reflecting its shift towards "the Metaverse". Today, the concept is central to the strategies of the world's biggest tech companies - including Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft - who are spending billions of dollars to build it. But what exactly is the Metaverse, how will it work, and what are the opportunities and dangers ahead? Matthew Ball is a venture capitalist, former head of strategy at Amazon Studios, and now author of "The Metaverse, And How It Will Revolutionise Everything". He joins Ros Atkins for a special edition of The Media Show, dedicated to what some are calling "the next internet"

iPhoneSE - Technical Specifications - Apple (UK)

This specification for one of the more recent (2016) offerings from Apple includes details of the location finding features namely GPS and GLONASS, digital compass, Wi-Fi, mobile data and iBeacon micro-location. It also covers details of motion sensing features, including three-axis gyro, accelerometer and proximity sensor.

Labour to scrap national road pricing plans

This report in The Telegraph of October 2007 describes how Ministers are to perform a U-turn by shelving plans for a national road pricing scheme that would have cost motorists up to £1.30 a mile. The Government has bowed to the groundswell of opposition which saw 1.8 million people back a Downing Street petition and a campaign by The Daily Telegraph calling for the proposals to be ditched.


Founded in 2009, Layar was one of the first mobile augmented reality browsers to hit the market. Today, as part of the Blippar group, Layar is a global leader in Augmented Reality and Interactive Print, helping to bridge the gap between the print and digital worlds. Together, Layar and Blippar have collaborated with many of the world's top brands, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Anheuser-Busch, Elle, Glamour, Honda and BMW. Layar is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Blippar group is headquartered in London with additional offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, India, Turkey, Japan and Spain.

Linking Spatial Data from the Web

The Semantic Web and, in particular, Linked Data, enable crossdatabase, cross-organizational and cross-domain links on a global scale. This paper introduces Linked Data projects that extract and apply location-related Linked Data, such as DBpedia. The case study of DBpedia Mobile, which provides a location-enabled Linked Data browser, is described. We conclude with examples of other applications, which can take advantage of location-related Linked Data from the Web. This paper is authored by Peter Furness and Christian Becker.

London's most popular Uber journeys

This article by Tony Manning of TimeOut London describes the map produce by Uber of the most popular Uber journeys. It shows that across the city, most rides are local – people hopping from one area to another neighbouring area, rather than cross-town journeys.

MobilityLab of the University of Tartu

Mobility Lab of the University of Tartu, Estonia focuses on various research topics such as activity spaces, travel behaviour, tourism, segregation, ICT use and environmental impacts for pursuing a deeper understanding of spatial mobility. In order to gain the best possible understanding of spatial mobility the research group applies both quantitative and qualitative data. One of its main interests lies with the novel methodology based on mobile telephone use, and active and passive mobile positioning data. The latter enables researchers to give a more comprehensive insight into individuals’ activity spaces and spatiotemporal regularities than most of the traditional data sources.

Nielsen Suspends PRISM Data System

This article by Jack Neff from Advertising Age explains why Nielsen suspended its PRISM in-store tracking and measurement system in 2009. Reasons included the general state of the US economy post 2007, the withdrawal of Walmart from the PRISM consortium, and the fact that marketers were not ready for the level of analytical detail provided by the system.

Pay As You Drive Motor Insurance

The Norwich Union is offering pay as you drive motor insurance. Customers have a GPS device fitted in their car and details of where and when they are driving are transmitted to NU. This information, along with other underwriting details such as age, is used to set premiums which are billed monthly.

Pay As You Drive Motor Insurance - Surveillance fears force Norwich Union to scrap policies

The Independent reports that less than two years after its launch, Norwich Union has withdrawn one of its flagship car insurance policies. The big-brother element of Pay As You Drive, particularly the ability to see how fast someone drives, was thought to have put a lot of potential policyholders off.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. An RFID tag is an object that can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radio waves. The tags can be read using remote sensors to identify where the tagged object is and at what time. This Wikipedia entry gives a history of RFID, its potential uses, as well as a discussion of the controversy engendered by privacy concerns.

Real time geodemographics: New services and business opportunities (and risks) from analysing people in time and space

This paper by Peter Furness provides an introduction to the subject of Real Time Geodemographics. New technologies such as GPS tracking and virtual worlds provide an opportunity to describe people in much greater detail in terms of space and time than has been possible in traditional geodemographics. The paper surveys the enabling technologies and illustrates what can be achieved with a series of case studies. It also examines the downside risks, especially the data protection and privacy issues that will impact public acceptance. Finally, it makes a few predictions for how real time geodemographics will develop over the next few years. Visit this page for more Real Time Geodemographics information.

Real Time Rome

Real Time Rome is the MIT SENSEable City Lab's contribution to the 2006 Venice Biaennale. The project integrates data from cell phones, buses and taxis in Rome to better understand urban dynamics in real time. Information is presented in map form and using other advanced visualisation techniques.

Real Time Traffic Routing From The Comfort Of Your Car

This article from Science Daily describes the TrafficAid system developed by IntelliOne of Atlanta. The system takes anonymous cell-phone location information and turns it into an illuminated traffic map that identifies congestion in real time. It takes advantage of the steady stream of positioning cues--untraced signals all cell phones produce, whether in use or not, as they seek towers with the strongest signals. It is the first traffic-solution technology that monitors patterns on rural roads and city streets as easily as on highways.

RFID Journal

The RFID Journal includes RFID news, case studies, industry focus on Retail, Health Care & Pharmaceuticals, Chemical Manufacturing, Transport &Logistics, Defense & Aerospace, Packaging & Labeling, Apparel & Footwear, a list of FAQs and a useful glossary.

Road Worthies

In the Lombard column for the Financial Times, Alison Smith comments on the arrival of “black boxes” in cars to track driving habits and speeds. Prompted by the recently announced joint venture between the RAC and telematics insurance group Ingenie, Alison quotes research suggesting that three-quarters of British drivers would be willing to have their driving monitored if it meant lower insurance premiums. However, she cautions that “sifting reams of detailed information to split policyholders almost into individual categories undermines the pooling of risks that is the very heart of insurance”. Requires registration with ft.com to read the article.

Second Life

Second Life is a three-dimensional online, digital world, imagined, created and owned by its residents. Members/residents are represented in this world by 'avatars' (representations of themselves) which can communicate and interact with other avatars. Several big 'real-world' companies such as IBM, Sun, Nissan and Reuters have a presence in Second Life and use this for product and service promotion, employee communication, teaching and other purposes.


Shopkick is an American company based in Silicon Valley that created a shopping app for smartphones and tablets that offers customers rewards for walking into stores. It uses points called “kicks” which are usually awarded when users walk into participating stores. Kicks are also awarded by scanning product barcodes or QR Codes using a device's camera, and by making purchases. The app is currently available for iOS (both iPhone and iPad) and Android devices and can respond to iBeacon bluetooth and audio beacons in stores. Partner stores currently include Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel, Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, Sports Authority, JCPenney, and many others. The program is also supported by 70 brands, which currently include P&G, Unilever, Mondale, Colgate, Revlon, Disney, Levi's and HP.


ShopperTrak is a leading provider of customer counting technology and statistics to both the retail and retail property sectors. Its advanced digital cameras and electronic equipment help provide organisations with fast, accurate information on pedestrian movement in shopping centres and individual retail outlets. Integrating counts of shopper footfall with sales information helps retailers evaluate operational efficiency and marketing effectiveness.

SiliconValley siphons our data like oil. But the deepest drilling has just begun

This 2017 Guardian article by Ben Tarnoff explains how personal data is to the tech world what oil is to the fossil fuel industry and that’s why companies like Amazon and Facebook plan to dig deeper than we ever imagined. He speculates that one of the reasons for Amazon’s recent acquisition of bricks and mortar retailer Whole Foods is to extend the powerful analytics of its online world into the analytics of offline retailing by using electronic tracking and surveillance in the bricks and mortar stores.

Smart Dust

Smartdust is a hypothetical network of tiny wireless microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors, robots, or devices, installed with wireless communications, that can detect (for example) light, temperature, or vibration.  The devices, or 'motes', are intended to be the size of a grain of sand, or even a dust particle.  When clustered together, they would automatically create highly flexible, low-power networks with applications ranging from climate control systems to entertainment devices that interact with information appliances. A typical application scenario is scattering a hundred of these sensors around a building or around a hospital to monitor temperature or humidity, track patient movements, or inform of disasters, such as earthquakes. In the military, they can perform as a remote sensor chip to track enemy movements, detect poisonous gas or radioactivity. The ease and low cost of such applications have raised privacy concerns however.

Smart Economy - A Forum For Discussing Emerging Technology With Built-In Intelligence

This site, developed by futurist Walter Derzko, includes discussion of the 'Global Intelligence Halo' for integrating satellite surveillance and ground sensor data. Also on the site are postings about new types of surveillance technology, 'smart maps' and other developments.

SMARTLab for Human Activity Recognition using Smartphones

SmartLab is one of the Research Laboratories at the DITEN / DIBRIS Departments of the University of Genova. It focuses on methods and algorithms for advanced information processing and their implementation on electronic systems. SmartLab know-how includes state-of-the-art methods for the analysis and processing of information and the induction of models from experimental data, based on statistical and artificial intelligence techniques. The main research activities aim at combining Computational Intelligence (e.g. neural networks, machine learning methods, etc.) with Electronics and Computer Science to solve real-world industrial and scientific problems, which cannot be effectively solved by conventional methodologies and systems.

Surveillance Studies Network

Surveillance Studies Network (SSN) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the study of surveillance in all its forms, and the free distribution of scholarly information. It produces the journal, Surveillance & Society, and acts as a clearing house for social science and policy research about surveillance.

Surveillance UK: Why This Revolution Is Only The Start

This article by Steve Connor in the Independent newspaper describes the new national surveillance network for tracking car journeys. Under development by the Home Office, the new system will track vehicle journeys by integrating CCTV (enabled with Automated Number Plate Recognition) data from across the UK, including cameras on roads and motorways, filling station forecourts and other sources; and will match this with vehicle road fund licence records.

Technology now used on Toll Roads and in Stores is moving into Hospitals

This article from the Boston Globe describes how tracking and surveillance technologies are being used by hospitals in the Boston area to monitor the locations of patients, doctors and medical equipment in real time within the hospital in order to better manage patient care.

Telematics: How Big Data Is Transforming the Auto Insurance Industry

This white paper from the SAS Institute examines some of the challenges arising from the use of telematics data by auto insurers. It introduces the principal types of telematics-based insurance and discusses their pros and cons. The data challenges include the sheer volume of data being generated as well as lack of consistency in the data provided by different telematics devices. The analytical challenges for risk and pricing decisioning are also discussed. If you would like to read the paper you will need to complete the registration form on the link below.

Ten Things You Need to Know About Indoor Positioning

This article by Adena Schutzberg from Directions Magazine examines the various types of positioning system that can be used indoors and describes ten key aspects in terms of the strengths and weaknesses of the various systems. For example, whilst today’s more sensitive GPS chips can sometimes get a fix (receive signals from enough satellites to determine a location) inside a building, the resulting location is typically not accurate enough to be useful. The signals from the satellites are attenuated and scattered by roofs, walls and other objects. Besides, the error range of many GPS chips (tennis court) can be larger than the indoor space itself (small grocery store)! The article covers a range of technologies in addition to GPS including radio and light beacons, RFID and inertial systems.

The ABI and BIBA publishes consumer guide to help customers buying 'pay how you drive' insurance

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced guidance to help consumers get the most from 'pay how you drive' motor insurance (sometimes referred to as telematics). This insurance reflects individual driving behaviour which can mean lower premiums for lower-risk drivers. It commonly uses small in-car computers often known as a 'black box' to relay to the insurer driving information such as how long, how far and at what time the vehicle being driven for, the types of road used, as well as speed, braking, and acceleration behaviour. This information is considered along with other risk factors such as the driver's age and occupation to set premiums. The ABI has produced two guides, in association with the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA); one aimed at consumers and one for the insurance industry. Both guides are available as pdf downloads.

The Information Commissioner's Office

The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. The ICO's role is to uphold information rights in the public interest. The rights of the public and the obligations of organisations are described on the site.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as "connected devices" and "smart devices"), buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data. In 2013 the Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as "the infrastructure of the information society." The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure,[4] creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention.

The Metaverse - and how it will revolutionise everything

This 2022 book is by Matthew Ball. The term “Metaverse” is suddenly everywhere, from the front pages of national newspapers and the latest fashion trends to the plans of the most powerful companies in history. It is already shaping the policy platforms of the US government, the European Union, and the Chinese Communist Party. But what, exactly, is the Metaverse? As pioneering theorist and venture capitalist Matthew Ball explains, it is a persistent and interconnected network of 3D virtual worlds that will eventually serve as the gateway to most online experiences, and also underpin much of the physical world. For decades, these ideas have been limited to science fiction and video games, but they are now poised to revolutionize every industry and function, from finance and healthcare to education, consumer products, city planning, dating, and well beyond.

The Origins of the Metaverse

This edition of ‘Archive on 4’ from the BBC was released on 12th March 2022. Introduced by Colin Harvey it visits a metaverse of the future and explores its cultural roots.  The idea of a virtual reality, fully immersed life, spent in a structured, created, illusory perceived universe has its roots a lot deeper than the recent announcements by Meta (formerly Facebook), even before the writer Neal Stephenson coined the term ‘metaverse’ in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. Pygmalion's Spectacles, a science fiction novella by Stanley G Weinbaum has hints of the idea. Perhaps it goes back to the beginnings of ancient philosophical traditions. It’s hard to nail down, so ubiquitous is the idea. Indeed, "world building" is in many ways just what film-makers, game-writers, authors and story-tellers have been doing for centuries. More recently, it has even become fashionable to speculate that the universe as we perceive it now is actually some kind of a simulation, running in some sort of super-real computing medium outside of what we can sense.  The programme also features contributions from Keza MacDonald, Guy Gadney and David Chalmers

Tracking the Patterns of Supermarket Shoppers

This article from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania describes research at Wharton into the patterns followed by shoppers in grocery stores using RFID-tagged shopping carts. The research was carried out in conjunction with Sørensen Associates using its PathTracker technology.The results, they conclude, challenge many long-standing perceptions of shopper travel behaviour within a supermarket, including ideas related to aisle traffic, special promotional displays, and perimeter shopping patterns.


Telematics Update provides reference information for automotive telematics, mobile and web industries. It provides industry focused news, events, reports, updates and other information.

UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

This site provides a wealth of background information on all forms of surveillance including CCTV, web cams, millimetre wave radar, facial recognition and other technologies. The latest news in this area is also provided, along with information on how to lobby MPs in order to improve regulation.

UK's RAC to promote 'black boxes' to its 2.5m members

Article by Henry Foy for the Financial Times describes how the RAC Group has formed a joint venture with Ingenie to brand and market telematics boxes, which track driving habits and speeds and can gather evidence for insurers.

Usage Based Insurance Global Study 2016

The Usage-Based Insurance market has continued to grow rapidly since 2013 and is now estimated at 12 million drivers globally. Telematics continues to radically transform the world of auto insurance, not only with different devices, but also by using more of the car’s data directly. This new update brings the insurance industry closer to the world of autonomous vehicles and is the first to estimate the impact of autonomous functions will have on claims as well as the timeline of the impact.

Value creation in the metaverse

This 2022 report by McKinsey examines the emergence of the metaverse: its history and characteristics, the factors driving investment, how consumers and businesses are using it today and may in the future, its value-creation potential, and how leaders and policy makers can plan their strategies and near-term actions. 


Walkbase provides a retail analytics solution for measuring and improving in-store marketing and personalising in-store shopping experience. It is one of Europe's leading in-store retail analytics providers. Walkbase supports a variety of positioning and counting technologies, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth beacons, cameras and beam counters. Walkbase is headquartered in Finland with offices in Helsinki and Turku.

Wearabletechnology: gathering data from tooth to toe

This 2016 article by Geof Wheelwright of the FT describes how, from fitness trackers to sleep monitors, ever more gadgets are on the market to log our waking or slumbering hours. He explains how we are in the era of the “quantified self”, in which the path to self-knowledge comes through wearable technology and the health metrics it can generate. This is not just solipsistic: employers, workplace health schemes, and insurance companies have spotted opportunities for gathering more information about our wellness” too.

Who is collecting data from your car?

This 2022 article from The Markup is by Jon Keegan and Alfred Ng.  A firehose of sensitive data from your vehicle is flowing to a group of companies you’ve probably never heard of. Today’s cars are akin to smartphones, with apps connected to the internet that collect huge amounts of data, some of which is highly personal.  Most drivers have no idea what data is being transmitted from their vehicles, let alone who exactly is collecting, analyzing, and sharing that data, and with whom. 

Why Big Data analytics has become the next battlefront in insurance

In this article from Ptolemus Consulting, Thomas Hallauer summarises some of the results from a major study, the Connected Insurance Analytics report. He describes how, in a survey of 60 insurers globally, the three most challenging aspects of offering usage-based insurance are: (1) Lack of understanding about how to extract value from driving data. (2) The shortage of data scientists. (3) Flexible IT infrastructure.

Wi-Fi location analytics

This guidance report by the ICO explains how operators of Wi-Fi (wifi) and other communication networks may use location and other analytics information in a manner that complies with the Data Protection Act (DPA). It makes clear that organisations must give clear and comprehensive information for individuals to make them aware of the processing. Organisations must also avoid excessive data collection and take steps to reduce the risk of identification of the individuals in the collected data.

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