Sense Networks: anonymous location data for nightlife discovery



Sense Networks: anonymous location data for nightlife discovery
Never wondered where is the real nightlife happening in a city, in realtime? Well, this is the promise of Citysense, launched this week in San Francisco by U.S. start-up Sense Networks.

The company announced on Monday its software platform Macrosense, which analyzes historic and real-time location data from mobile devices. Based on this platform, Sense Networks is debuting the alpha version of its so-called “real-time social navigation and nightlife discovery application”, Citysense.

In April 2008 Sense Networks raised an A round from hedge funds (including Passport Capital, Drobny Global Asset Management and the Challenge Funds) and angel investors. The amount was not disclosed, but VentureWire reports that it was $3 million.

How does it work?

Macrosense collects massive amounts of anonymous location data emitted from mobile phones and automobiles. The platform leverages machine learning technology to analyze each new data point in the context of billions of historic location data points. This allows companies and investors to quantify aggregate consumer behavior and uncover macro trends in spending and sentiment in real-time.

Search with Google and Yelp
Search with Google and Yelp
Search with Google and Yelp
Search with Google and Yelp
"Just as Google indexed pages on the Internet to optimize web discovery, Sense Networks has indexed the real places in a city and characterized them by activity, versus proximity or demographics, to better understand the context of consumers' offline behavior," said Tony Jebara, Chief Scientist, co-founder of Sense Networks, and Director of the Machine Learning Laboratory at Columbia University.

Citysense
The Citysense alpha release is a mobile map application that shows users nightlife hotspots in real-time, initially in the city of San Francisco. Users can identify the busiest places, with another option to only view spots with unusually high activity based on years of historic data. From any real-time hotspot, the application allows one-click searching of nightlife activities and restaurants in that area on Google and Yelp.

"Citysense demonstrates the power of combining anonymous, aggregate location data for social navigation," said Sandy Pentland, Chief Privacy Officer, co-founder of Sense Networks, and Director of Human Dynamics Research at MIT. "The idea is similar to automobile GPS systems sharing and pooling current road speed conditions so that everyone can avoid congestion."

Users can download Citysense on BlackBerry phones; a version for the iPhone will be available on July 11, when the iPhone App Store launches.

Thursday, June 12th 2008


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