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Gaining business insight by pairing mobile geolocation and mass transit

Gaining business insight by pairing mobile geolocation and mass transit

Posting in Cities

Bay Area Rapid Transit explains how its partnership with mobile geolocation service Foursquare has allowed it to gain valuable insight into straphangers hurting through San Francisco.

Location, location, location.

Urban life is all about locations, and mass transit is the connecting thread between them.

Last year, Bay Area Rapid Transit partnered with mobile geolocation service Foursquare to allow straphangers to win a "badge" when they "check-in" to multiple BART stations.

At Web 2.0 Expo, BART senior marketing representative Melissa Jordan explained how both the transit company and its riders added value to their morning commutes while using the mobile service.

According to Jordan:

  • 38 percent of people said using Foursquare made BART more fun to ride.
  • 19 percent rode BART because of a Foursquare recommendation.
  • 14 precent rode BART more often because of their interaction with Foursquare.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect? BART gained valuable insight into its riders thanks to their Foursquare habits before and after their commutes.

For example, the "mayor" -- that is, most frequent visitor -- of the Civic Center BART station also likes to frequent pizza places and art museums.

And the mayor the Downtown Berkeley BART station? He's quite the jet-setter.

"This could be very valuable data for the businesses that are advertising in mass transit stations," writes ZDNet Web Life blogger Andrew Mager.

Here's what Mager had to say about the value proposition for businesses:

Businesses that are adjacent to BART stations also benefit from a Foursquare partnership: people add tips about places nearby when they checkin to the station, and other users benefit. Advertisers win in this situation too.

It's not just for local mom-and-pop joints, either: imagine gaining insight into the habits of customers who check-in to a certain airport gate, or gaining more knowledge about the habits of customers who travel through certain areas of the city.

Some examples: a financial district; a garment district; a hip neighborhood; a stroller-strewn 'nabe.

What do you think: the next step in smarter transportation? Or simply better, more targeted mobile advertising?

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure