For the last four years Proximity Futures has been working closely with towns, cities, BIDs, local authorities and industry bodies to deliver a range of services. Here at Proximity Futures we pride ourselves on being data providers first and fore most, whether it be through WiFi, footfall monitoring, tracking air quality, car parking or retail insights. We use that data to produce reports that can help place managers make informed decisions.
That all sounds great right, but just who are Proximity Futures? You may know us better as ElephantWiFi, in fact the company has always been called Proximity Futures, but for the last four years we have traded as ElephantWiFi which happens to be the name of our first product.
Skip back four years and our director Rod, who has a company within the Hinkley BID boundary, had the now typical conversation with the then BID manager Jonathan White, along the lines of “what is this BID levy, and what am I paying extra rates for”. I’m sure to any BID manager reading this that sounds very familiar! It’s fair to say, like many business owners, once the BID was explained Rod just ‘got it’, and on the back of that initial conversation started doing some work with servers for Hinkley BID.
Following that initial piece of work, conversations between Jonathan and Rod led to a discussion around public WiFi, and how the smaller towns were being disadvantaged to the larger towns & cities. A little bit of digging and it transpired there was a whole market for public WiFi across the country. At this stage, ElephantWiFi was born, initially through a third-party portal, but we soon developed our own WiFi, allowing us to completely own the process and enabling us to develop the service as we gained more feedback. This has led to a number of other proprietary systems being developed.
Skip down the road two years and again, following a request from Jonathan to look at footfall, Geo-Sense was born, we will expand on this journey and what makes Geo-Sense different from traditional footfall counters in our next blog. However, GEO-Sense is a revolutionary footfall system developed by Proximity Futures for one purpose – to make footfall counting as accurate as it can be. Launched In 2016 as a completely independent system to ElephantWiFi, GEO-Sense turned the footfall analytics market on its head due to the level of accuracy provided.
It is this level of detail and accuracy that has resulted in a collaboration with respected place management specialists British BIDs. On the back of their new quarterly barometer distributed to the industry supplying information on the state of BIDs in the UK. Once we were able to demonstrate the level of detail and information, we can provide it seemed a ‘no brainer’ to also supply regional & national data.
As with all the data we produce, we make it available in one easy-to-use portal that allows place managers to view in real time, sort by comparison dates, download and interrogate, but we wanted to allow access to some of this data to help produce a national picture for the industry. Now, as with all data, our data tells a story of what is happening at a national, regional and local level. This allows place managers to make the best-informed decisions on how their place is being used, essentially “decisions through data”.
However, the advantages of accurate place data can have much more of an impact, sometimes financial/commercial or data to help grow events etc. More importantly, as we start to head into pre-recovery/recovery the need to be able to monitor people’s movement, identifying hotspots and visitor journeys, highlighted as one of the ten steps to recovery in the High Streets Task Force recent paper (view here) in our towns and cities. Proximity Futures are very well placed to provide this data to local authorities and BIDs, quick and easy to install and can be up and running and providing data with a very short lead time.