SkyHook and SimpleGeo Present SpotRank, Now You Can Always Find Where The People Are

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In an under-appreciated announcement Skyhook Wireless released a huge set of location trend data. SpotRank, as the data is called, shares out ranking trends for locations around the world. The maps above show the SpotRanks of those locations.

Skyhook has been collecting look-ups for the past five years. CEO Ted Morgan shared these stats “We average about 300 million location requests a day and our reference database has over 200 million wifi access points and over 2 million cell towers.” In total Skyhook has over 40 billion data points that are used to derive

As of right now SimpleGeo is the only way to access this data. I spoke with Matt Galligan and Joe Stump, the founders of SimpleGeo, about the new service and the SpotRank data. The data set is massive. There are half a billion 100mx100m boxes. It will be up to the customer to reverse geocode the location. For each location there is an entry for every hour of the past week (Stump said to picture it like a 7×24 grid). Right now the updates lag by an hour or two. The time to update will decrease over time.

For each time-location pair there are four different datapoints. As Skyhook describes them:

Worldside Rank – How one Spot compares to all other Spots worldwide.

City Rank – The City Rank illustrates how one Spot’s city compares to other cities at any given time.

Local Rank – Local Rank ignores data from other cities, and shows how one Spot compares to others within that Spot’s metro area.

Trending Rank – The Trending Rank is provided on a five-point scale of -2 to +2, indicating whether activity in a Spot will increase, decrease, or hold steady over the next hour.

(I included the full description after the jump)

This is a new type of data. Never before has something like SpotRank been released. It will be used mobile apps and mobile ads (as Stump pointed out, it could cost more to show an ad in a busy part of a city). I can also see it being used city planners and corporate real estate agents everywhere. It will also give us great insights into human behavior.

I asked Morgan what the most interesting thing that he’d learned from looking at this data. He replied “Two things, 1) that human behavior is highly predictive but that 2) they don’t do the things we think they do. We are still learning a great deal about the data and the underlying behaviors and we hope with SpotRank others can now help us figure it out as well. ”

Some final thoughts come to mind:

1) How much longer will Skyhook remain independent?

Location is going to become increasingly important. Skyhook’s wifi geolocation is one of the best systems out there and is going to keep on growing. Over time SpotRank will become even more accurate, How long till Apple buys them? Skyhook is baked into the iPhone and OS X. Apple’s been making other geo moves (like buying Placebase). Will Google give up its own wifi geolocation project in favor of Skyhook? Would Microsoft or Intel (a Skyhook investor) decide that they want to location-enable their stacks?

2) How long will SimpleGeo remain independent?

Stump & Galligan pulled off quite the coup getting this data and being the only provider. The company is creating an ecosystem of geodata. When they throw open the gates developers will have a one-stop shop to access almost a terabyte of data (all hosted on a geo-ified version of Cassandra known as Gazelle Giselle). What large company wouldn’t want this business? Heck, Twitter already bought their primary competitor Mixer Labs (who had the product GeoAPIRadar post).

3) I want more ranks!

Google has PlaceRank. I’d like to know more about it, I think everybody would. Expect John Hanke to talk about it at Where 2.0 on his panel with Danny Sullivan – though I do not expect a SpotRank competitor from Google anytime soon.

Where 2.0 is just two weeks away in San Jose on 3/30-4/1. Both Ted Morgan and Matt Galligan will be speaking along with representatives from Twitter and GeoAPI. Register now with whr10pcb for 25% off.

Here’s Skyhook’s full explanation of the various data points:

Worldside Rank

How one Spot compares to all other Spots worldwide. A W-2 rank would signify an area that’s quiet compared to the rest of the world, like a suburb in Lincoln, Nebraska. W-10 ranks are in the world’s most active areas, like SoHo in Manhattan or the busiest neighborhoods of London.

City Rank

The City Rank illustrates how one Spot’s city compares to other cities at any given time. On weekday rush hours, a C-10 Rank would give Manhattan a 10 vs. Omaha’s 1. Ann Arbor, Boulder and Burlington would all be ranked C-5 at 8pm on a Saturday.

Local Rank

Local Rank ignores data from other cities, and shows how one Spot compares to others within that Spot’s metro area. The most active areas of Cheyenne, Wyoming or Cedar Rapids, Iowa will get a L-10 Rank. The least active areas in Paris and San Francisco, although far more active than the Cheyenne and Cedar Rapids hotspots, would be assigned a L-1 Rank.

Trending Rank

The Trending Rank is provided on a five-point scale of -2 to +2, indicating whether activity in a Spot will increase, decrease, or hold steady over the next hour. Penn Station at 6am, just before rush hour, will get T +2 Rank, indicating that a throng of rush hour traffic is about to hit. Denver’s Lower Downtown will get a -2 Rank at 1am on a Saturday morning, indicating that the partygoers are about to leave the clubs and head home in the next hour.

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