De Pere to use geo-fencing pilot program
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – Say goodbye to the signup sheets, the pseudo-contest forms, the customer surveys.
Forget the random sampling, the head counting, the eyeballing, the turnstiles and the clicker counters.
There’s an alternative out there to crowd estimation, and De Pere could soon be using it.
It’s called geo-fencing visitor data and impact analysis, and the City of De Pere will be participating in a pilot program for it.
The De Pere Common Council unanimously approved allocating $1,000 from two downtown tax increment financing districts ($500 from each) to pay for the analysis.
Kim Flom, director of development services for the City of De Pere, said the geo-fencing visitor data technology will give the city some nuts and bolts information about who attends events in De Pere.
“It’s not individualized,” she said, adding that it won’t tell by name who has been to the farmers market, but it will be able to give other information.
“Instead of say, guessing who’s at the food truck rally, or thinking we know who’s at the food truck rally, it would tell us if we have a lot of people there who are coming from outside the city and, if so, how far they are coming from, or whether the event draws mainly from our residents,” Flom said. “We’re able to get this data for a much-reduced amount, and it will help us understand who is using our downtown, and that will help us adjust in the future.”
She said it would enable De Pere to look at data and information from other Wisconsin communities.
“We would be able to see that, ‘Hey, they tried holding this type of event, and this is how it worked for them,’” Flom said.
Alderman Scott Crevier, who has a professional background in technology, said he researched the geo-fencing concept, which uses cell phone data.
“Some of the data provided include the age of the cell phone holder and their originating zip code,” Crevier said. “The data comes from cell phone providers and has nothing to do with location data being turned on.”
He said he read through his own cell phone provider’s fine print and found that it includes an opt-out clause.
He also pointed out that any head count provided by the geo-fencing technology would not be an exact one, because it would not count those who don’t have cell phones, such as small children, and those who have opted out.
“As long as we know that going in, then it’s fine,” he said, adding that he sees the technology as kind of cool.